Origins of Red Velvet Flavor

We did some research on Red Velvet to see if we could find the origins ^_^

Unfortunately there is no exact proven origin, however there are two main stories that tell of the beginning of this wonderful flavor.

The first is of a lady who went to The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City around 1930s.

Waldorf Astoria in NYC

She ate a slice of Red Velvet cake from the hotel menu and truly enjoyed it. She later wrote to the chef in that hotel and asked for the recipe. She was sent the recipe and a bill, the amount is rumored to be from $100 – $200. She was outraged at the bill and to get back at the hotel, went sharing the recipe everywhere, even as a chain letter so as to spread the recipe to everyone. That is one version of the history of Red velvet.

The other version of the story is  that it was a secret recipe of a Lady Eaton, the owner of Eaton’s Department store in Canada.

Eaton’s store in Canada

It is said that they employees of the Bakery department of the store were sworn to silence by their employer as to the recipe of Red Velvet Cake. This is said to be around the 1950s.
As the various hotels and bakeries continued to sell the Red velvet cakes, people begun to slowly make their own versions of the cakes in their kitchens at home. It grew more popular in time.

There’s also a third story that it was a cake developed during the hard times in the United States when sugar was scarce. Sugar beets were used in the baking of the cake; therefore a minimal amount of sugar was required to bake the cake. With the addition of a small amount of cocoa powder, baking soda and use of buttermilk; this created a chemical reaction that darkened the color to that of a deep beet red and gave the cake a ‘velvety’ taste and texture. This is how the color of the ‘Red Velvet’ cake came to be; a deep rich red.

You can choose one story to believe; I believe it’s a mix of all three stories ^_^ Whatever you choose to believe, it’s definitely an un-forgettable cake flavor and every baker should definitely be able to bake a delicious Red Velvet cake.

More recently, Red velvet has gained popularity in different bakeries all over Kenya and is a favorite go to flavor for a lot of cake-lovers ^_^

Red velvet booklet cake slice
Slice of Red Velvet cake

To get our Baking with Amari recipe book, please click here. 

Published by Amari

Baking with Amari offers learning experiences to those who want to experience & know what Bakers & Cake Decorators do in a practical, hands-on settting. We train our students using Cookswell original charcoal ovens. We also offer basic business start-up training for those who want to start small baking businesses. We do groups vocational training anywhere in East Africa as well. We hold classes in our home-based bakery workshop located on Ndwaru road in Riruta, Nairobi; off Naivasha road, next to Pelida School.

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