Red velvet cake stirs the romantic imagination. Flowing gowns on the dance floor of the Waldorf Astoria; a nervous young valentine saying, “Will you be mine?”; your grandmother’s hand-stitched wedding dress on the biggest day of your life. Red velvet cake evokes a certain sensuality that makes most other cakes blush.
Red velvet has a chocolate flavour, but the origins of its colour are contested. One theory is pure science experiment: When it was originally developed in the American South, just the right blend of acidic vinegar and buttermilk would react with a certain kind of cocoa powder to release anthocyanin, a water-soluble pigment that would turn the cake a modest but pronounced shade of red. The other theory is a little more practical: During the Second World War, food rationing forced bakers to use plentiful beet juice to both enhance the colour of their cakes and help retain their moisture.
These days, a rich cream cheese frosting is paired with this tender, moist cake to create an enchanting and memorable experience that will complement any occasion calling for a show-stopping centrepiece on the dessert table.
- Yield: 1 (9-inch) double-layer cake or 18 cupcakes
- 1 cup soy or coconut milk beverage
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1½ cups Bob’s Red Mill garbanzo and fava flour
- 0.33 cup potato starch
- 0.33 cup arrowroot starch
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1½ cups organic sugar
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 7 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh beet juice or red food dye
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 batches cream cheese frosting or vanilla
- buttercream frosting
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with canola spray.
- In a small bowl, combine the milk and vinegar. The reaction of these two ingredients raises the acidity of the milk and causes it to thicken somewhat. Set aside for at least 10 minutes to allow the milk to become “buttermilk.”
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, both starches, cocoa powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt. Add the sugar and whisk thoroughly.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the applesauce, oil, beet juice, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, then pour in the buttermilk. Using a spatula, mix thoroughly. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes.
- Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick or a knife inserted in the centre of a cake comes out clean.
- Let the cakes cool to room temperature, then wrap them, still in their pans, in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to overnight.
- When you’re ready to frost the cake, remove from the pans and place the bottom layer on a serving plate. Spread with one-third of the frosting of your choice. Place the second layer on top and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting.