What's the Difference Between Devil's Food and Red Velvet Cake?

What's the Difference Between Devil's Food and Red Velvet Cake?

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Meghan Splawn
Jan 30, 2017

Did you know that for some time in their history both Devil's food cake and red velvet cake shared a similar red hue? They were both baked with a combination of natural cocoa powder and "red" aka brown sugar. These cousin cocoa cakes share a surprisingly similar history with a charming difference.

What's the Difference Between Devil's Food and Red Velvet Cake?

Devil's food cake and red velvet cake share a similar backstory: Both were born from Victorian-era cakes made with cocoa powder and sometimes sweetened or moistened with red beets. In fact, rumors abound that Devil's food was once tinted red, from the combination of cocoa powder and baking soda, as red velvet cake was. Modern versions of both cakes share the same flour and similar leaveners and sweeteners, but each call for a distinct cocoa powder and different liquids.

  • The cocoa: Devil's food cake typical uses Dutch-process cocoa for a richer chocolate flavor, while red velvet is almost always made with natural cocoa to enhance its color.
  • The liquid: Devil's food cake is made with hot coffee, boiling water, or sometimes sour cream. Red velvet has a distinct tang from its use of buttermilk and vinegar.
  • The color: Lastly, and most obviously, Devil's food cake isn't colored with red food coloring, so it has a deep dark chocolate color.

More cocoa intel: What's the Difference Between Natural and Dutch Cocoa Powder?

Devil's food cake is simply a richer, cocoa version of chocolate cake. Most chocolate cakes are flavored with melted chocolate and cocoa powder, while Devil's food just uses the latter. Devil's food also has a tighter, more tender crumb, thanks to a higher amount of moisture from the coffee or water.

Try our favorite Devil's food cake:

Ina Garten's Devil's Food Cake

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