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ewrohde Nov 5, 2006 04:00 AM

I'm looking for a fantastic red velvet cake recipe that does not contain shortening. Any help out there? thanks

  1. MaspethMaven Nov 5, 2006 12:32 PM

    There's a good looking one on Epicurious.com. Do a search for "red velvet cake". The one I refer to has berries on it, but I bet you could leave them out.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MaspethMaven
      chocodile Nov 6, 2006 04:54 AM

      I made this for a picnic once and it was very popular (and tasty). Even though I did use the berries, I think it would be fine without them.

      1. re: chocodile
        Foodrat Nov 6, 2006 04:18 PM

        I've made this cake many times (with and without the berries; and cupcakes) and people always love it.

        Here's the link:

        1. re: Foodrat
          CocoaChanel Dec 24, 2012 08:45 AM

          I have made the one Foodrat posted from Epicurious as well (though I omit the berries). I can attest it is fantastic and a real crowd pleaser.

          I make a few modifications:

          I use 2 tbsp red food colouring instead of one - gives it a really deep colour;

          I use 1 1/2 sticks of butter intead of the 1 called for

          I also add a 1/2 sour cream

          I also substituted evaporated milk for the buttermilk once (realized I did not have the buttermilk when I was making it) - turned out just fine, though a bit sweeter


    2. Robert Lauriston Nov 5, 2006 03:40 PM

      Just make your favorite chocolate cake and add two bottles of red food coloring.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston
        BangorDin Nov 5, 2006 04:18 PM

        Many people take you seriously, R. Lauriston! How much liquid coloring do the bottles hold?

        1. re: BangorDin
          Robert Lauriston Nov 5, 2006 05:18 PM

          I am serious, that's verbatim the recipe of a friend who makes it for her son's birthday every year. The usual little supermarket-size bottle. I guess they're an ounce each or something like that. Recipes call variously for one or two ounces or tablespoons.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            BangorDin Nov 5, 2006 07:01 PM

            Sorry to doubt you!
            A one ounce bottle holds 2 tablespoons.

            1. re: BangorDin
              Pei Nov 6, 2006 02:30 AM

              I'll say that for me, one tablespoon of food coloring is more than enough. I added the two ounces stated in most recipes once and ended up with this frightening cupcake:


              Having said that, the Paula Deen recipe I used was was fine, but definitely TOO red.

              1. re: Pei
                BangorDin Nov 6, 2006 03:01 AM

                I've always thought that red velvet cake was truly supposed to look like actual *red velvet*, the fabric, so there's no such thing as "too red"! I'd be afraid though that the food coloring would add an off-flavor. It's supposed to be tasteless, I'm not going to turn my whole mouth deep scarlet to find out.. It's a novelty cake, just for fun I guess, certainly striking on a table. Does eating a cupcake turn your teeth pink for a while?

                1. re: BangorDin
                  Pei Nov 6, 2006 03:06 AM

                  Mine turned my tongue, lips, teeth, and palms red for hours. No one I know has ever seen another red velvet cake as red as the horror I made. They usually look like chocolate with a tinge of red. The flavor doesn't really change much, but it really should be cloesr to brown.

      2. j
        JPomer Nov 5, 2006 05:33 PM

        Saveur Magazine published a great recipe...sometime in the last year...I think around November or December...sorry I can't pinpint, but it's worth digging it up if you can.

        2 Replies
        1. re: JPomer
          Robert Lauriston Nov 5, 2006 05:50 PM

          March 2006. Same Cake Man Raven recipe as this:


          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            Pupster Nov 6, 2006 07:39 PM

            There's a mistake in that recipe -- correctly use cake flour, not AP flour.

            Here's the recipe from the source: http://www.cakemanraven.com/recipe.htm

            I've made it many times -- not difficult to make, moist and delicious. Not very chocolately though.

            Another winner is Jennifer Appel's version from Buttercup Bakeshop in NYC -- very similar to the epicurious version.

        2. rumgum Nov 5, 2006 09:39 PM

          I follow the recipe for a boxed white cake mix. Stir 2 TBl cocoa powder to 2 bottles of red food coloring in a separate bowl. Mix cocoa mixture into cake mixture and bake as directed.

          Don't forget the cream cheese frosting. This makes more than enough frosting. I like a more cream cheesy flavor, so my ratio is a little different from traditional recipes. If you like a sweeter less tangy flavor, reduce the cream cheese and butter by half and add to the pound of sugar.

          1 lb powdered suger (sifted)
          2 8 oz cream cheese (softened)
          1 cup butter (2 sticks softened)
          1 tbl vanilla

          1. i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream Nov 5, 2006 11:27 PM

            Out of curiosity, does anyone make red velvet cake with beets? For some reason I have it in my head that "authentic" red velvet cake is made with beets (someone must have told me this, and a quick internet search shows that I'm not completely crazy). I wonder what effect it would have on flavor, texture etc.?

            11 Replies
            1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream
              Robert Lauriston Nov 6, 2006 12:14 AM

              Sounds pretty dubious, but if you Google "beet cake" there are lots of recipes, e.g.:


              1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream
                Lilula Dec 22, 2010 04:11 PM

                You are 100% correct about the origins of red velvet cake having to do with beets! During World War I there was a ration of cocoa which made it difficult/impossible to get cocoa to make chocolate cake. Some inventive cook substituted pureed beets which with the vanilla makes taste that, although not chocolate, is better than nothing if there aren't any other options.

                Obviously there isn't a chocolate ration any more and has not been for a long time but people fell in love with the look of red velvet cake. It is now become essentially a devil's food cake with a dash of vanilla and as much red dye as the cook can get their hands on.

                SO, if you're looking for a recipe that tastes like modern red velvet cake then you'd most likely want to use a recipe that calls for cocoa and just substitute beet juice for the red dye. Here is a link to a possibly more "authentic" i.e. no cocoa red velvet cake recipe that Tyler Florence made on The View. http://www.food.com/recipe/tyler-flor...

                1. re: Lilula
                  Lilula Dec 23, 2010 06:02 PM

                  I got inspired so today I made the cake as outlined on the link above...

                  I'd never made a red velvet cake the "authentic" way before (no red dye, no cocoa). The results are delicious but it tastes more like a "spice cake" than the red velvet cakes I've had from mixes and at bakeries. Also, it doesn't come out blazing red like the bakery and mix ones do either; more brown with a pinkish tint. After looking around online I found some photos and apparently the brown with pinkish tint is normal.

                  If you like chocolatey and unmistakably red cake then stick to standard red velvet mixes or just add red dye to your favorite chocolate cake recipe.

                  1. re: Lilula
                    Robert Lauriston Dec 24, 2012 10:14 AM

                    Red Velvet cake became popular due to the promotional efforts of a food coloring manufacturer:


                    The disgusting original recipe:


                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      jmcarthur8 Dec 24, 2012 11:07 AM

                      How so?

                      1. re: jmcarthur8
                        Robert Lauriston Dec 24, 2012 01:32 PM

                        Fake butter flavor and shortening instead of real butter, red food coloring and white sugar instead of brown sugar, frosted with confectioner's sugar and shortening with more fake butter flavor.

                        Adding red food coloring has no effect on the flavor, so you can make a tasty version by adding two bottles to a good devil's food cake recipe and using a good boiled icing or cream cheese frosting.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                          jmcarthur8 Dec 24, 2012 02:49 PM

                          Agreed on the fake butter flavors. Agreed on the preferred boiled frosting.
                          Disagree on the suggestion of brown sugar. That would change the cake to something entirely different.
                          Disagree on the suggestion of using a devil's food cake. RV is a buttermilk cake, not a chocolate cake. It should have just a bit of cocoa.

                          For the quintessential RV cake, Mom Mom's Red Velvet Cake here on the CH threads is the one to use. I can post a link when I'm back on my computer.

                          1. re: jmcarthur8
                            Robert Lauriston Dec 24, 2012 04:44 PM

                            Stella Parks makes a good case that the original red velvet cake was a cross between a red (brown sugar) devil's food cake and a velvet cake, which sounds more interesting to me than a cleaned-up version of the Adams recipe. E.g. Alton Brown's:


                            Mom Mom's is a minor variation on the Adams recipe, with Crisco instead of butter in the cake.


                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                              Antilope Dec 24, 2012 05:36 PM

                              Except for the vinegar and salt amounts, Mom Mom's is very similar to this 1963 recipe in a Canadian newspaper:


                              After reviewing a lot of recipes in old newspapers, I believe a lot of "old family recipes" started with Grandma and a newspaper clipping. ;-)

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                jmcarthur8 Dec 24, 2012 07:24 PM

                                It occurs to me that my view of the 'real' RV is based on my own recipe for the cake that was given to me in the early '70s.
                                When I was in high school, my friend's mom made RV cake for her birthday.
                                I'd never seen nor heard of it- but this was in Ohio, and her mom was from the South. She was kind enough to give me her recipe (which has the boiled frosting ), and I admit, I've compared every recipe to that old Southern one. Mom Mom's (here on CH) is just about the exactly the same as the recipe I have. .
                                Whatever the true history of the origins of the RV cake, there's a flavor and texture to this particular recipe that is unique and delicious.

                                1. re: jmcarthur8
                                  Robert Lauriston Dec 25, 2012 10:27 AM

                                  The similarity among most recipes reflects it being popularized nationally by the Adams Extract recipe cards.

                  2. Tehama Dec 24, 2012 04:56 AM


                    I think there was a typo in the recipe in that she didn't include cocoa (I added 2 TBL cocoa sifted into the flour). The recipe, with the cocoa inclusion, was really, really good.

                    Also, her recipe made 20 cupcakes instead of 12 and it took more like 21 minutes to bake instead of 12.

                    I'll be repeating this recipe for sure!

                    1. Antilope Dec 24, 2012 10:27 AM

                      History of Red Velvet Cake type recipes from old newspapers:

                      I believe before it was called "Red Velvet Cake". it may have been called "Red Devil's Food Cake" and it didn't use food coloring.

                      The earliest reference I've found to Red Velvet type Cake using food coloring is from 1950.

                      The earliest reference I've found to Red Velvet type Cake from the Waldorf is 1959.

                      The 1959 story has a Neiman-Marcus $250 type of cookie story attached to it. Someone was supposedly charged $300 for the recipe. So this urban legend goes back to at least 1959. Read the 1959 story link below for details.

                      Here are links to old recipes in newspapers:

                      Red Devil's Food Cake from 1928

                      Red Devil's Food Cake from 1933

                      Red Devil's Food Cake from 1943

                      Red Devil's Food Cake from 1950


                      I found an early instance of the "Red Velvet Cake" using red food coloring from 1950:

                      "Village Inn Red Cake" (same ingredients as the later "Red Velvet Cake").
                      A woman from Monessen, PA sent this recipe into a newspaper recipe contest and it won the first weekly prize of $5.

                      Here's a link to recipe and story:

                      Pittsburgh Post-Gazette July 21, 1950

                      The earliest reference I've found to Red Velvet type Cake from the Waldorf is from 1959.

                      "Red Cake of the Waldorf" from 1959

                      Red Coronation Cake from 1960

                      Red Velvet Cake from 1961

                      Red Velvet Cake from 1963

                      Red Velvet Cake from 1967

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Antilope
                        Robert Lauriston Dec 24, 2012 11:00 AM

                        "By [1910], Velvet had simply come to denote any cake with an especially fine crumb, while Red referred to “red sugar” or, in modern parlance, 'brown sugar.'”


                        From an Adams Extract press release:

                        "Around the time of the Great Depression, Adams Extract & Spice created their own version of the Red Velvet Cake recipe. This more vibrant red cake included all the traditional ingredients such as vinegar, buttermilk, and cocoa, but was the first to incorporate the use of Red Food Color and the substitution of shortening and Butter Flavor for butter in their recipe. This recipe was printed on tear off cards added to product displays around the country."


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