A Harte Appetite: Red Velvet Cake

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The non-violent overthrow of Czechoslovakia's communist government in 1999 was called the Velvet Revolution; growing up in St. Louis, the preferred ice cream of my youth was called Velvet Freeze; and the late crooner Mel Torme was called the Velvet Fog (or to those who weren't fans, the Velvet Frog.) But to me the most deserving object of the designation "velvet" is red velvet cake -- a rich relative of devil's food cake only with a distinctive red color and frosted with white icing for contrast. Red velvet cake was all the rage years ago, but its popularity has faded since the 1970s amid safety concerns about the red food coloring in use back then to tint the cake. Perhaps it's time to bring red velvet cake back. Today's red food coloring is perfectly safe and after all, the cake is a uniquely American invention. We'll probably never know who the first person was to create a red velvet cake. The recipe is what culinary professionals call a "grass roots" recipe, meaning it's the sort

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