red velvet cake

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Some people at my office celebrated a party recently with Buttercup Bake Shop cupcakes. I observed a woman savoring one of their red velvet cupcakes. I was curious about the concept of red velvet cake, so I set off to create a birthday cake to explore (and possibly demystify) the intrigue.

I searched my baking books and was dismayed to find few, if any, recipes for this cake. Even the Cake Bible produced no results. Was this a conspiracy? So I did an internet search and came up with three recipes from epicurious.com, Joy of Baking, and Cakeman Raven’s cake via Food Network. Cakeman Raven’s 1 1/2 cups of oil seemed a bit much, so I leaned towards the other two recipes which called for butter. However, I did not want to eliminate the oil entirely as it would add moisture, so I added a token 2 tablespoons. I tried to use as little red food coloring as possible, but basically ended up using about the entire 2 tablespoons generally called for this cake. The resulting cake was extremely red so I felt I should have added less in retrospect.

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very red cake!

Alas, I concluded that the lure of the red velvet cake was largely psychological. The mere mention of red velvet cake prompts “oohs” and guilty smiles. The color red is indeed seductive, dramatic and has a stimulating effect, but adds little intrinsic flavor value. I figured this is the reason why it was so difficult to find in my recipe books. Overall, though, it was a good cake, turned out extremely moist and was well-received.

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