Red Velvet Cake Made From Scratch A Boatload Of Questions

Baking By NJCakery Updated 1 May 2011 , 2:15pm by NJCakery

NJCakery Posted 30 Apr 2011 , 9:26pm
post #1 of 2

I am on a Red Velvet Cake quest, in another forum on Simple Syrup I learned quite a bit, but I still have questions. So if all you wonderful cake gurus can help with the answers that would be fantastic! Perhaps there are others who are wondering as much as I am!

What is the purpose of the vinegar?

Several recipes use distilled white vinegar and others use apple cider vinegar does it make a difference which you use? I am guessing that the apple cider vinegar would have some sweetness to it not sure though.

Several recipes use unsweetened Dutch process cocoa, and others use baking cocoa does it make a difference which one you use and why?

Mostly I have found that the vinegar and baking soda are activated and mixed in last. When mixing the two ingredients do you wait for it to stop foaming? Or do you mix it well enough and pour it into the batter still foaming? Also, it seems that most say mix in for about 10 seconds and not to over beat/mix. Why?

Because the vinegar and baking soda is added last and mixed for only a short time, does this mean you have to put the batter into whatever pans cupcake, various size rounds, squares, etc quickly? And does this mean that the batter cannot be held to be baked later?

In butter based red velvet cakes some recipes instruct you to beat the butter and sugar at medium high for 15 minutes and others for only 5 minutes. I am assuming differences between mixers might be the reason why, and that light and fluffy is really by sight. But what does over beating the butter and sugar do? What does under beating the sugar and butter do?

Thanks bunches icon_smile.gif

1 reply
NJCakery Posted 1 May 2011 , 2:15pm
post #2 of 2

A friend of a friend knew a recently graduated pastry chef, so here are the answers to the boatload of questions I had. Hope these help others icon_smile.gif

Q: What is the purpose of the vinegar?
A: It is used in combination with baking soda for the chemical reaction. It is folded into the batter to make the cake lighter.

Q: Several recipes use distilled white vinegar and others use apple cider vinegar does it make a difference which you use?
A: Both of the vinegars achieve the same chemical reaction needed. It is a preference choice. Apple cider vinegar is sweeter, but can hide the taste of the chocolate in the recipe.

Q. Several recipes use unsweetened Dutch process cocoa, and others use baking cocoa does it make a difference which one you use and why?
A: Dutch versus Non-Dutch cocoa: If a recipe uses baking soda a non-Dutch-Processed cocoa can be used. Dutch-Processed cocoa is neutral in chemical makeup and will not react with baking soda. This means it can only be used in 1) recipes with baking powder or 2) if the recipe has enough other acidic ingredients that will make up a lack in acidity. If the recipe has both vinegar and buttermilk, it should have a high acidity level for either cocoa. That said, either cocoa should work, and becomes a preference choice.

Q: Mostly I have found that the vinegar and baking soda are activated and mixed in last. When mixing the two ingredients do you wait for it to stop foaming? Or do you mix it well enough and pour it into the batter still foaming? Also, it seems that most say mix in for about 10 seconds and not to over beat/mix. Why?
A: Mix well enough and add to the batter still foaming. This produces gas bubbles, which in turn is to make the cake lighter in texture. Overbeating will defeat the purpose of adding the vinegar and baking soda.

Q: Because the vinegar and baking soda is added last and mixed for only a short time, does this mean you have to put the batter into whatever pans cupcake, various size rounds, squares, etc. And does this mean that the batter cannot be held to be baked later?
A: Because you want to take advantage of the vinegar and baking soda chemical reaction. You should fill you pan after mixing the two ingredients in. It is not advisable to hold red velvet cake for a length of time, or freeze it. It will not rise properly, and the texture will be different.

Q: In butter based red velvet cakes some recipes instruct you to beat the butter and sugar at medium high for 15 minutes and others for only 5 minutes. I am assuming differences between mixers might be the reason why, and that light and fluffy is really by sight. What does over beating the butter and sugar do? What does under beating the sugar and butter do?
A: If butter and sugar is over-creamed (creamed too fast or fat is too warm) the fat starts to break down and release the previously creamed-in air bubbles. The purpose to creaming is to add air bubbles in for a lighter cake. Over beating butter can separate the milk solids, which causes air loss and/or not all air bubbles to form when the sugar crystals cut into it during the process. When the fat is cold, the sugar cannot cut into it causing not enough air bubbles to form. Resulting in various problems, such as denseness, flat and/or flavorless cakes this can happen with cookies as well.

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