Going Crazy for Red Velvet

Red velvet cake is benefitting from a surge in popularity.

Is Boston going crazy for red velvet cake?

Last week, Flour Bakery held a fundraiser for Brookline non-profit “Lovin’ Spoonfuls” called “OMG Red Velvet!” The event, which had 10 chefs making their best red velvet creations, was cited in a WBUR radio broadcast that highlighted the rise in popularity of the dessert.

Red velvet cake is traditionally a chocolate layer cake (though it can be vanilla) dyed red with cream cheese frosting on top. Perhaps most famously, it has been known as a groom’s cake, though recently it seems to have gained popularity outside of southern weddings.

Food stylist Angie Mosier described how she feels about the cake, saying:

I consider the red velvet cake to be the Dolly Parton of cakes. It’s a little bit tacky, but you love her anyway.

Mosier made the same claim in a 2007 New York Times article that proclaimed the cake “all the rage.” That was four years ago. Does this mean that Boston is behind the trend? Not necessarily.

Much like the world of fashion, when it comes to trends, New York City usually does them first. I’m reminded of this clip from “The Devil Wears Prada,” in which the editor of Vogue explains to the new girl just how her blue, cable-knit sweater made it from Oscar de la Renta to “Casual Corner.” Food trends can begin with a few celebrity chefs trying something new, or putting a twist on something old, and eventually the trend trickles all the way down to local bakeries and restaurants.

Will Gilson, chef at Garden at the Cellar in Cambridge, participated in the red velvet fundraiser but made a non-dessert item. He created a blue cheese fried chicken dish topped with sour cream that looked a bit like a squished red velvet cupcake, but I’m sure tasted very different.

In honor of the event, Boston Food Bloggers posted this recipe roundup of all things that can be made red velvet. It included a Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake Truffles recipe made by Beantown Baker, which seems to be a bite-sized way to eat the treat and take care of leftovers.

Finally, down in Texas, the Cookie Madness has been going wild over red velvet for the past few weeks. Sunday she posted an extensive list comparing different red velvet cake and cupcake recipes.

While red velvet certainly seems to have started out as a Southern tradition, it has definitely found its way across the country and up the coast.

Update: CakeSpy thinks red velvet is less like Dolly Parton and more like Marilyn Monroe. She posted a lengthy, detailed comparison of the two here.

Photo (cc) by sarahheiman under a Creative Commons License. Some rights reserved.

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