The Original Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake is trendy.  It's everywhere and in many forms, Red Velvet Cup Cakes, Red Velvet Cake Lollipops..... I've even found two recipes for Red Velvet Cookies! The bright young things doing  professional baking today probably think it's something new. 

Adam Extracts gave out these recipe cards to promote their food colourings and flavourings.  This recipe card is from 1969 but it wasn't the first appearance of Red Velvet Cake.  Some say it is from the days of the Great Depression, some say it comes from the early 1900's. It's probably even earlier than that, when there weren't any artificial colourings and beets were used to moisten cakes and give them vibrant colour. 

I have several different recipes for Red Velvet cake and I love them all.  But I have one very special recipe, it's handwritten, dog-eared and discoloured and  I've NEVER made it.  It's my Grandmother Selph's Red Velvet Recipe. 

There are some things that you can't duplicate.  Some things are best remembered.  I think Grandma's Red Velvet Cake might be one of those things. 

This cake was made for special occasions.  One of them being when our family would visit during the school holidays.  We lived in Missouri and Grandma and Grandpa lived in Tennessee.  We only visited once a year, for five days and every aunt, uncle and cousin would gather at Grandma's house for a very special dinner.  We were a large family then and there were adults and children everywhere! 

It wasn't just dinner  more of  a feast!  Southern people love food and can cook!  Grandma was one of the best!  I don't remember her ever using a recipe but she must have because I have this one.  It's different from most Red Velvet Cake recipes.  She always used a cooked frosting, one with coconut and chopped pecans in it. 

The cake would look HUGE to me... three layers of brilliant red cake on a glass cake stand, topped with that lovely rich frosting and very carefully decorated with cherries cut in half and pecan halves arranged around each cherry forming daisy-like petals... it was lovely! 

Maybe I'll make that recipe one day.... but not yet.  It is going to require a very special occasion.  For now, I'll munch the modern adaptations with gooey cream cheese frosting and savour the childhood memory that is Grandma Selph's very special Red Velvet Cake.


  1. Your borther makes the BEST red velvet cake..from scratch! He has tried several recipies and I think he combines the best parts from each to get his just right. I'm always sent to the store for more red food coloring. I don't mind if it is a bit pinkish but he is a perfectionist and wants it r.e.d.! And the frosting...oh the frosting! I usually get to be on the tasting committee for final approval. Wondering if he is in the mood to bake this weekend....


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