Last night I found myself at a café with a delightful selection of cakes and pies, many of which were typically American, like apple pie, peanut butter pie, and red velvet cake. I opted for the bright-red buttery goodness of the red velvet cake, layered with white cream cheese frosting, as it had been too long since I’d enjoyed this ultra-American confection.
I remember baking a red velvet cake once in my early days in London and my friends being confused about the vivid red cake I was serving them. I started to see it popping up here and there in cupcake boutiques and specialty bakeries in my later years in London, but it remains a quintessentially American dessert.
Apparently it’s a mystery as to where red velvet cake originated. Many people consider it to be a southern recipe, but other sources say it originated at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.
What is less of a mystery is where its bright-red color comes from: large amounts of red food coloring (the oh-so-tasty red #40 food dye). Although apparently the cake can be made naturally from puréed beetroots. But I feel like that somehow goes against the synthetic spirit of red velvet cake.