I'm sure we talked about the history of the red velvet cake when we made it for Rose's Heavenly Bakers, but I don't remember any discussion we might have had. But you have to admit it's an odd, but fascinating, concept. And it really makes you think about how much appearance has to do with taste. Would this cake "taste" the same without food coloring? Or would it taste the same if it had a bottle of green food coloring in it instead of red? I'll probably never know the answer to these questions.
If you have the Rose bundt pan, and if you can get over your trepidation about using a whole bottle of red food coloring, this cake is a snap to make. (It actually took more than one bottle because it looks like McCormick has changed its standard size of food coloring from 37 ml to 29 ml. I had enough from another bottle to get another 8 ml.
And here is all that red color invading the unsuspecting egg whites. Frankly, at this point it doesn't look too appealing.
But the sugar, butter, and oil mixture looks appetizing, so that makes up for it. I don't know if it would work for every cake, but the butter/oil combination is attractive: the taste of a butter cake, the lightness of an oil cake. I wonder if you could do a poppyseed bundt cake with this technique. Sans food coloring, of course.
Oops. Back to unappetizing. The little bit of cocoa can't possibly pack much of a chocolate punch, but it's just enough to make the batter a not very lovely beige.
Finally--the dramatic red color I'd been waiting for! Which returns me to my original question: who thought of this weird idea? Well, here's a link to an article called "7 Things You Definitely Did Not Know About Red Velvet Cake." Neither James Beard nor Irma Rombauer cared much for it, but its current popularity shows no signs of waning.
Ready for the oven.
And done! I checked after 42 minutes, and it was already pulling slightly away from the sides, so I pulled it out. It gained a lot of height during that 42 minutes.
There are two heart-stopping moments in the production of this cake. (And who said that baking was a calm affair?) One is, of course, lifting the cake pan off of the cake, hoping that the cake will emerge in one piece. Mine had a few cracks, but no major damage. The second is transferring it from the cooling rack to the serving plate. My good friend, the giant spatula, helped me a lot.
I loved the raspberry sauce/glaze, even though it's not my favorite chore to press raspberries through a sieve until I get the requisite amount of puree. I guess I should get a food mill, but raspberry puree time is the only occasion when I wish I had one.
It really is a very striking cake, even before you cut into it.
And even more so when you do make that first cut. I served this at a dinner party, and all 8 people ate every bite. That speaks well to the goodness of the cake, although I did at first get some complaints that it wasn't a red velvet cake without cream cheese icing. But when they started eating it, they appreciated the moistness and tenderness of this version, and the surprising addition of raspberry sauce offset by the soft cream.
My only reservation about the cake is the bottle of food coloring, which is really the whole point of the cake, so there's no point in objecting to it. But next time I'm in the mood to OD on food coloring, this will be the recipe I'll choose.