Red velvet cake, while popular in the early 1900s, has begun to have a bit of a resurgence. A sought-after flavor, red velvet is visually appealing as well with a deep red or burgundy color. Although today, the red is generally achieved with food dye, originally it was a toned-down red-brown color.
Good red velvet cake is dense, moist, velvety, and rich. They have a mild chocolate flavor with a bit of acidity as well. Traditionally, they are made with a cream cheese frosting that is sweet and slightly tart.
The exact flavor will vary and depend on how it’s made. However, generally, red velvet is less sweet than other types of cake. But definitely sweeter than an olive oil cake.
Is Red Velvet a Chocolate Cake or Vanilla
Red velvet is commonly referred to as either a version of chocolate cake or a vanilla cake dyed red. Neither of these is really true.
Is It Chocolate Cake
While it is true that red velvet does have cocoa powder in it, it is not the most dominant flavor in the cake. The cocoa powder actually reacts with the acidity of the buttermilk and causes a red color. This means the cake tastes more acidic than chocolatey.
However, traditional cream cheese frosting is used to balance out the acidity with its sweetness and hint of tart flavor.
Is It Vanilla Cake
Many people think that red velvet is simply a vanilla cake that has been dyed red. Although in modern times, we do tend to add extra food color for appearance, red velvet tastes very little like vanilla.
Due to the use of food coloring, people often think that acidic flavor is a chemical taste from the dye. It’s actually the vinegar and buttermilk meeting with the cocoa powder.
The Texture of Red Velvet
Mostly due to the buttermilk, red velvet has a light, moist texture. It generally had a dense, tight crumb close to a carrot or spice cake as opposed to a vanilla cake.
In addition to the cake itself, let’s talk about the texture of the cream cheese frosting. Generally, this is very smooth and has fairly thick frosting. It shouldn’t be thin or runny.
Is Red Velvet Only For Cake
While traditionally red velvet was used for cakes, more recently red velvet has been used in other products as well.
Cupcakes are common as well as pancakes, whoopie pies, and cookies.
To Sum Up
Red velvet cake is mildly chocolatey with a bit of an acidic bite. However, the cream cheese frosting that is traditionally served with it perfectly balances the acid.
This is a wonderfully rich, velvety, dense, and moist cake. If you’ve never had red velvet cakes, it’s readily available or easy to make at home.