Beware of Red Velvet

Red velvet cake and cupcakes seem to be all the rage these days. These goodies are basically chocolate cake, but have a reddish (or red velvet if you will) colored hue. Flavor-wise, they don't taste very different than chocolate cake (despite the tricky coloring, there isn't any strawberry or raspberry flavoring added to the cake batter). So what gives red velvet baked goods their color? Nothing more than a whole whack of red food dye. You need roughly a whole tablespoon in order to achieve a true red velvet cake batter color. That's a ton of dye!

Those who are concerned with healthy eating should be wary of red velvet cake. Red food dye (also known as FD&C #40 (this dye can be used in food, drugs and cosmetics, hence the name FD&C)) has been linked to hyperactivity in children, can cause rashes, liver and kidney damagecancer, and are generally considered to be toxic. Evidently, the consumption of red dyes should be limited, especially in children.

But red velvet cakes are pretty! What's a baker to do when they want red velvet cake but don't want any artificial food coloring? Make the cake batter with beets, strawberries, pomegranate juice, or raspberries of course (as discussed in my post on natural food dyes). Fruit juices and purees make great natural food dyes. I recently came across this blog post on red velvet pancakes that are made with beets.

Look at how beautiful a naturally colored, red velvet (pan)cake can be!

Image source: The Edible Perspective


  1. Years ago Mom used beet juice to make icing red and we made fun of her.


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