Red velvet cake is closer to devil's food, and good


POSTED: Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Last week I made the acquaintance of just about every baking book in the Hawaii State Library, looking for something called the Dwight Eisenhower Red Velvet Cake. I figured it was an oldie, so it should be in some old cookbook.

Pat Terauchi wrote for the recipe, which she said her relatives had cut out of a newspaper 30 or 40 years ago. They'd told her the cake and frosting were particularly good.

I had no luck at the library, but I did find a few online references, with the original source seeming to be the “;American Family Cookbook”; (Culinary Arts Institute, 1974), long out of print.

So I can't vouch for the authenticity of this recipe, but I tried it and it is a very good cake with a nice, marshmallowlike frosting. It's basically a devil's food cake, which is closely related to the classic red velvet. Both have a red (Satan-like) tinge which comes from the interaction of cocoa powder with an acid (in this case vinegar, but in some recipes buttermilk). Contemporary red velvet cake recipes accentuate this color change with food coloring.

By the way, I did find a book at the library called “;The First Ladies Cookbook”; from 1982, which got my hopes up, but they were false hopes. The recipes attributed to Mamie Eisenhower were not at all appetizing—Tomato Pudding and Quail Hash. She liked serving cupcakes at state dinners, though, the book said. Perhaps they were miniature versions of this cake.

President Eisenhower Cake

1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vinegar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup boiling water
3 eggs, separated
2-1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sugar

» Seven-Minute Frosting:
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine milk and vinegar; let sit 30 minutes at room temperature to allow milk to sour. Dissolve cocoa powder in boiling water; set aside to cool. Meanwhile, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry; set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two 9-inch cake pans.

Sift flour a second time, with baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Cream butter and vanilla in separate bowl, then gradually beat in sugar. Add egg yolks one at a time. Add cocoa mixture and beat until well blended. Gradually beat in dry ingredients, alternating with sour milk. Fold in egg whites. Turn batter into prepared pans. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until cake tests done.

Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove cake from pans and let cool completely.

To make frosting: Combine all ingredients except vanilla in top of a double boiler over simmering water. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until mixture holds peaks, about 7 minutes.

Remove from heat; add vanilla. Beat again until cool and thick enough to spread. Spread between cake layers, on top and sides.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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