Red velvet is one of the most superior cake flavors out there. It takes a chocolate cake to the next level–and no, they are not the same. Red velvet cake is moister, denser and more exciting than chocolate cake. A classic in its own right, red velvet provides a happy alternative to chocolate and vanilla, while not being as complicated as things like German chocolate or black forest cakes.
According to Cheesecake.com, the luxurious velvet found in this flavor is not a figment of the imagination:
Velvet cakes had been made since the 1800s. Recipes called for the use of cocoa to soften flour and make finer texture cakes. This smoother texture gave these cakes the name Velvet cakes.
As for when the "red" was added in, Cheesecake.com has an answer for that as well:
When items ideal for baking (specifically sugar and butter) were rationed during World War II, some bakers began adding beets or beet juice to their cakes. This was done for a variety of reasons. The red from the beet juice made the cakes more appealing, and the beets also acted as a filler and kept the cakes moist...Present day Red Velvet Cake relies more on red food coloring than it does on beets.
The reality is that red velvet is the imposter of the dessert world. Perhaps it held merit in its early days, but now, whether you're grabbing your cake from a bakery or your grandmother's kitchen, red velvet cake consistently tastes artificial.
Refinery 29's Ashely Ford describes her first experience with a red velvet cupcake:
...I took a healthy, but not greedy, bite. At first, all I tasted was sugar, and that was enough. Then, I tasted something else. What was that? It was sweet, but also…metallic? Acidic? In any event, I didn’t like it. In fact, I opened my mouth and let the mostly chewed up cupcake fall back into the wrapper like the trash it had revealed itself to be.
I lamented wasting my birthday treat. Why hadn’t I picked chocolate? Dear God, I could have even picked vanilla! Why, oh, why had I picked this blood-tinged monstrosity?
Perhaps red-velvet haters just have undeveloped palettes. There is science to back red velvet's coloring, giving it a legitimate place on the baker's rack. As Mic's Melissa Kravitz explains:
The original red velvet, and the most authentic red velvet cakes, don't use drops of red food dye, but turn red when the cocoa powder in the batter reacts with vinegar and baking soda, explained Magnolia Bakery Chief Baking Officer Bobbie Lloyd. 'This [reaction] creates a brownish-red color and it's typically dyed red to create that bright red color you see with red velvet cake,' she said in an interview.
Authentic red velvet cake uses this baking soda and vinegar chemistry (think elementary school volcano) to get the red hue....
There you have it–all claims otherwise are a disgrace to the red velvet legacy. There's a reason you can easily find recipes for red velvet cookies, brownies, lattes and truffles all over the Internet. Everyone knows red velvet is the treat-yourself version of chocolate, and with cream cheese frosting to boot, there is no greater indulgence.
Nearly every modern red velvet recipe involves artificial dye–very few people are left doing a science experiment in their kitchen when someone's birthday rolls around. The obsession with red velvet is a miss-use of bakers' talents–use your powers for good, not evil!
Nothing could make you run faster in the other direction than that scarlet hue. As soon as someone cuts into a red velvet cake, you know you should stop and choose another dessert.
Ford continues her dissent of the red-velvet craze:
A person with garbage taste buds will always defend the merits of this ruined chocolate cake, and there is literally nothing to be done about them. Everyone’s on their own journey. That’s fine. But I will always choose the path with the least amount of red velvet anything. And you can too. Free yourself from the fraud.