Monday, October 4, 2010

4 October 1956 “Red Velvet Cake and Peach Rhubarb Jam”

Yesterday I hosted a birthday party for my friend. I forgot to get pictures of us, as we were having too much fun, but the ladies dressed 50’s vintage and we looked darling. I wore the last dress I shared with you that I made, the blue flowered sheath, with a brown cardigan and belt and shoes, and a brown fabric flower in my hair. Fun was had by all.
I made, upon request of the Birthday girl, red velvet cupcakes.
redvelvetcupcake This is the recipe that I used. I found it HERE. Though it is a modern recipe, it seemed similar to the others and I had not tried them before. I would recommend them. They are quite good and more chocolaty than the more traditional version. Though, it is still a very subtle chocolate cake taste as opposed to a heavier chocolate fudge cake. 
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 fluid ounce red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease two 12 cup muffin pans or line with 20 paper baking cups.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk, red food coloring and vanilla. Stir in the baking soda and vinegar. Combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt; stir into the batter just until blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack. When cool, arrange the cupcakes on a serving platter and frost with desired frosting.
redvelvetcupcake2 This picture actually makes them look redder than they actually did. But, they had the reddish/brown cast you get from the older recipes that don’t call for red food dye, but actually get the reddish color from the chemical reaction of  the acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to better reveal the red anthocyanin in the cocoa. Before  the higher  alkaline "Dutch Processed" cocoa that we now use (most likely what you have in your pantry), the red color would have been more pronounced. This natural tinting may have been the source for the name "Red Velvet" as well as "Devil's Food" and similar names for chocolate cakes.
For example, my Betty Crocker cookbook has this recipe for Red Devils food cake. It does not have red food coloring or vinegar in it: (click to enlarge)
During the war, when sugar was in short supply, cooked beets were often used, for their higher sugar content, thus giving a natural reddish color. Obviously, not a sugar beet, as that is a white vegetable.
I have not tried a beet recipe, but would like to. This ONE I found sounds quite good. If any of you make it, let me know how it turned out.
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp dark cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup fresh pureed beets*
1/3 cup oil (I use a sunflower/ rice bran oil blend)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
*I used 3 medium sized beets and got approximately 1 1/2 cups of purée.
Wash the beets, scrape/ peel and slice them. Cook them (steam cook or microwave) till they’re well done. Cool and purée the cooked beets along with about 3 or 4 tbsps of water, in a blender till smooth. Keep aside. You can do this ahead and refrigerate the purée for a day or else freeze it till required.
To make the cupcakes, first whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl till well mixed. Keep aside.
Put the puréed beets, oil, lemon juice and vanilla extract into another bowl and lightly whisk together till mixed well.
Pour this into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix just enough to combine. Divide the batter equally between 12 cupcake tins lined with paper cups.
Bake the cupcakes at 180C for about 20 to 25 minutes. A skewer/ toothpick inserted into the centre should come out clean once they’re done.
Cool completely and decorate with frosting of your choice. The usual choices are butter roux (boiled) frosting or cream cheese frosting.

I also found this little bit of Red-Velvet cake history from Canada:
In Canada the cake was a well-known dessert in the restaurants and bakeries of the Eaton's department store chain in the 1940s and 1950s. Promoted as an "exclusive" Eaton's recipe, with employees who knew the recipe sworn to silence, many mistakenly believed the cake to be the invention of the department store matriarch, Lady Eaton.
In the 1920’s the Waldorf-Astoria was known for its Red Velvet cake. And according to a legend, a patron asked for the recipe and was billed an exorbitant amount. Her retaliation was to spread the secret recipe through a chain letter.
50sdebballwaldorfastoria Here we see a Debutante Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel NYC 1950’s. Aren’t they lovely?
Waldorf-Astoria Red Velvet Cake
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ounces red food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa (heaping)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup butter (must be butter)

Cream shortening, sugar and eggs.
Make a paste of food coloring and cocoa.
Add to creamed mixture.
Add buttermilk alternating with flour and salt.
Add vanilla.
Add soda to vinegar, and blend into the batter.
Pour into 3 or 4 greased and floured 8" cake pans.
Bake at 350°F for 24-30 minutes.
Split layers fill and frost with the following frosting.
Frosting: Add milk to flour slowly, avoiding lumps.Cook flour and milk until very thick, stirring constantly.Cool completely.Cream sugar, butter and vanilla until fluffy.Add to cooked mixture.Beat, high speed, until very fluffy.
Looks and tastes like whipped cream.
Today I am using up the last of my peaches. My mother in law has peach trees on her property and gave me a good amount. I am amazed by the shelf life of these peaches, as I have had these for the past month in a brown bag in my ice box. They are still fine. They have never been sprayed or any chemicals used on these trees and they are the small natural peaches, not the big over genetically altered grocery store peaches, so  I am not sure if that is why they lasted so long.
peaches Here they are coming out of their ice bath. I blanched them (Place them in boiling water for 5 minutes then plunge into ice water, the skins slide right off).
I also had some leftover rhubarb from early summer that I put in my freezer that I want to use. So, Rhubarb Peach Jam. I will let you know how it turns out.
Until tomorrow, Happy Homemaking.
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