Thursday, October 15, 2009


I have decided to start a Friday series called Forgotten Recipes. I love cookbooks and have been collecting them for years. A few years ago, I decided I wanted to make Red Velvet Cake which was a favorite of mine when I was a little girl. I called my Mom and she couldn't find the recipe. I looked through all of my cookbooks and not one of them had a recipe for Red Velvet Cake. A search of the Internet provided a modern version, but I wanted the original, old fashioned recipe that I so fondly remembered my Mom making.

A month later, while I was at Canton Trade Days, I dug through a pile of old cookbooks laying on a dusty shelf in the back of a booth. I found a 1950's Red Velvet Cake recipe in one of the cookbooks, along with a trip down memory lane of the party foods of my childhood. Thus began my love for Vintage cookbooks!

I can spend hours in an Antique Shop looking through the bookshelves, on the hunt for my next vintage cookbook. Just ask Dorothy Kay! I really enjoy cookbooks from the 1940's, 50's,60's & 70's. I have found if they are any older than the 40's, the ingredients can be hard to find.
Some of the best recipes come from the recipe booklets that were included with kitchen appliances and the vintage pictures of old stoves, mixers, etc. are really great. I also like the Advertising Cookbooks that were put out by companies such as Jello, Nestle, and Pet Milk, just to name a few.

For years, I have collected community and fund raising cookbooks, especially when I travel, as that is the best way to get regional recipes. I consider it my souvenir. So, when I find a vintage one, I feel like I have hit the jack-pot. Of course, no one is probably surprised that I snatch up all of the vintage French Cookbooks. I don't have very many of those, but there is always tomorrow.

To me, vintage cookbooks are like history books. They give you a glimpse of the life and culture of another decade. Throughout time, most important events, holidays, and family occasions are celebrated with meals. Reading cookbooks that describe those long ago meals and celebrations is like stepping back in time. So, if you have any old cookbooks lying around that you want to get rid of, please send them my way. I will give them a good home and you might even get a chance to sample something that I have made from them.

Red Velvet Cake was and still is most common in the South. Due to the red food coloring that is used in the cake, it became very unpopular in the 1970's when red food coloring was linked with behavior problems in children. Despite the fact that red food coloring formulas were changed, the damage was done and red velvet cake virtually disappeared. It began to gain popularity again after a red velvet cake was featured in the movie Steel Magnolias. The armadillo shaped red velvet cake served as a groom's cake for one of main characters. In recent years, it has become so popular that you can find it on many menus and in bakeries. Since my search for Old Fashioned Red Velvet Cake started my love for vintage cookbooks, it is only fitting that the very first Friday post pay honor to it.


For the cake:

2½ cups cake flour

1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

1½ cups vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons (1 oz.) red food coloring

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar

1.Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, and salt into a medium bowl.

3. Beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
4. Divide batter evenly between 3 greased and floured 8″ round cake pans.

5. Bake cakes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Let cakes cool 5 minutes, then invert each onto a plate, then invert again onto a cooling rack. Let cakes cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 pound cream cheese, softened

4 cups sifted powdered (confectioners') sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. NOTE: Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla extract; raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally).
Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using. NOTE: May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Makes enough to frost a 3 layer (9-inch) cake.

Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate, level off with a serrated knife, and spread one-quarter of the frosting on top.

Set another layer on top, level, and repeat frosting.

Set remaining layer on top, level, and frost top and sides with the remaining frosting.

Tip: after leveling cake, turn it upside down to reduce numbers of crumbs. .
Chill for 2 hours to set frosting.
* There are many icings that are associated with red velvet cake. When I was very small, Mom made a 7 Minute Icing, which is a white fluffy icing that reminds me of marshmallow cream. However, she began making the cream cheese icing when I was older and it is my favorite, so that is why I have included that icing recipe.
**To make this even more delicious, I add a layer of chocolate ganache to each cake layer. Remember to let the ganache dry on the cake before spreading the cream cheese icing. Also, I love cupcakes and recently have been making red velvet cupcakes instead of the layer cake. Again I put a layer of chocolate ganache and then the cream cheese icing. For a recent bridal shower, I baked a chocolate kiss in the middle of the cupcake to give it that chocolate punch and I think I like that even better.

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