Rose Cake, (Red Velvet Cake), by Carol Zurawski, circa 1958, invented

Red Velvet Cake …all the rage now. Writers detail the history; Others debunk the Waldorf Astoria link we believed in.  Google “red velvet” and a billion recipes appear.  A red impostor cake mix is sold at grocery stores.  Ugh.

Well, Mom only made elegant desserts. photo 5 Inside the Waldorf Astoria's $1 billion makeover - CNN Style

The Waldorf-Astoria, sold this cake in the 1920s. Recipes for it began to circulate in the 1940s.

Mom and dad married in August 1958, and when they entertained, mom occasionally made this towering, eight thin-layer cake for the very best of their celebrations.  (The layers in my cake pictured above may be much too thick, they should have been split!)

Her typed, mimeographed recipe is titled “Rose Cake,” then in parenthesis, the fancier, “Red Velvet.”  Still, despite the cake’s opulence, my siblings preferred even another name; we called it “Blood Cake” for the deep red color, and for the looks of horror we incited. This recipe is wonderful.  But this recipe is not for the faint-hearted Mom increased the recipe, sometimes using 4 whole, 2 oz. bottles of red food dye.  No other cake compares in flavor.  And she didn’t bat an eye when the U.S. banned red dye in the 1970s.  Thankfully, a government-approved replacement works well, because this cake just does not taste as good without the dye!

Mom used the original whipped, light, creamy, cooked frosting that does not overpower the delicate cake. It must be topped, and sometimes sided, with cracked walnuts, for the flavor pairs wonderfully with this cake and frosting.

The original  recipe found in the cookbook Oscar of the Waldorf is only what you’ll find here.

Ingredients and Directions:

Rose Cake (Red Velvet) For cake {x2} Double the recipe:

Cream together:       ½ c. shortening          1½ c. white, granulated sugar   2 eggs

Add:     2 c. cake flour            1 tsp. salt 2 tsp. baking cocoa        5 oz. red food coloring

Alternating with:     1 c. buttermilk         1 tsp. vanilla

Mix in a cup:        1 tbsp. white vinegar         1 tsp. baking soda Let foam and add to cake mixture; blend until smooth. Grease cake layer pans and coat/dust with cocoa to ease removal of the finished cake from pan.  Bake in layer pans at 350° F. for 30-35 min. Split layers in half to make four layers and frost when cool.

Frosting: Cook until thick {x3} Triple the recipe.

3 tbsp. flour            1 c. milk Stir constantly; let cool thoroughly. Room temperature. Do not chill or it will not whip properly.

Cream together:     ½ c. butter         1 tsp. vanilla 1 c. white, granulated sugar

Add the flour mixture and cream well. Should have the texture of whipped cream. Frost between layers and sprinkle the top of the cake with walnuts.

Note: This is almost exactly how mom’s typed recipe looked (she’s an excellent typist), except for my explanations in italics.


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