Red velvet cupcakes

The brightly-hued American favourite from Konditor and Cook

As a title, red velvet cake is as clear cut as they come, covering colour, texture and definition in three sweet monosyllables. The colour may be something of a red herring for those in search of a fruity flavour, but whatever you think of its lustful shade and extravagant icing, red velvet cake is, indisputably, cake. Not tart, crumble, or any other half-baked half measure: eggs, butter, flour and sugar are its (locally sourced, organic) job description.

As V Day approaches, those in a relationship (or, indeed, if you’re not) will appreciate the unabashed decadence of such a treat.

So why is it red? We hear you muse, as you wander around the Market this Friday, contemplating your treat options. Is it E-numbers, conjuring up a crimson haze like a synthetic smoke machine? Is it beetle’s blood, as the red in red smarties were always rumoured to be? Is it actual blood? No, no and no, says Sophia at Konditor and Cook. “There’s beetroot powder, as well as cocoa and buttermilk in the sponge mix.”

Crimson tint
The chemical collision between alkaline bicarb and buttermilk with acidic cocoa lends the mixture a crimson tint, that’s been further amplified by the addition of Spice Mountain’s 100 per cent natural beetroot powder.

Of course, red velvet cake is American and, in comparison to the esteemed eccles and the venerable victoria sponge, new to the cake scene. It first rose, blazing, in bakeries of the American south in the mid-20th century, but it took Carrie Bradshaw, Samantha Jones and the rest of their high-heeled entourage a good few years to popularise red velvet and its kitsch young friend, the cupcake, over here.

No matter, it’s here at last, and in defiance of the grimiest, greyest time of the year. Eat it, says Sophia, with gay abandon: “On its own—it’s quite rich—with a spoon and a cup of tea.” Officially they recommend serving it at room temperature, but Sophia likes it straight out the fridge. “I actually like it cold, especially the icing.” If there’s one thing you shouldn’t have to wait for in life, it’s cake.