Happy Birthday, Big Sister…Kinda, Sorta!

Today is my sister’s birthday. Well…not really. My sister is a “29-er,” a “Leap Year Baby.” I won’t tell you which birthday she’s celebrating – or would be celebrating if she had normal birthdays – but she’s in her teens now…barely! The novelty of her birth date has provided much celebratory fun and silliness over the years. And it’s a convenient cop-out for memory lapses: “I didn’t really forget your birthday; you don’t even have a birthday this year!” Just joking! I would never really say that to my dear sister, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to holding that card in my hand – “just in case” I ever need to use it. I do remember consoling her on her 30th birthday by pointing out that she was “really only seven and a half!”
Growing up, my sister’s birthday did mean more than just Leap Year Baby jokes. It meant that our mom would make a heart-shaped Red Velvet Cake. Yes, THAT legendary cake! I only know two people who have regularly made Red Velvet cakes throughout their lives: my mom and my friend, Rebecca. Rebecca’s husband is so protective of her recipe that he tried to sabotage it when she gave it to me. I didn’t fall for his “special ingredient,” though. One-half cup “soy sauce?” Please!
Everyone knows the true special ingredient for Red Velvet cake is red food coloring; however, the amount is up for debate. One cookbook I own only calls for one teaspoon, but I’ve seen recipes that call for 1/3 cup – and if my calculations are correct, that’s still less than what Rebecca’s uses (two 2-ounce bottles). ( I read an on-line recipe that called for zero red food coloring!)
I’m sure my husband probably wishes I would actually make a Red Velvet cake in honor of my sister’s birthday. But how could I share that with all of you? Instead, I’m giving you the opportunity to take this little Red Velvet Cake Quiz. So, it’s a little dry…that’s usually the way my Red Velvet cakes turn out!

Red Velvet Cake Quiz

1. In which part of the U.S. are Red Velvet Cakes most popular?
2. A traditional “RVC” calls for a butter roux frosting. What’s the main ingredient in a “roux” frosting?
3. What is the main ingredient for the “non-traditional” RVC frosting?
4. Which famous New York hotel is associated with the legend that it billed a customer $100 for the recipe?
5. Which vegetable is said to have been used in the past to give the cake its red color?
6. This chef’s “American Cookery” cookbook recipe for RVC only uses one teaspoon of red food coloring. Name the chef.
7. Why did the cake fall from popularity in the 1970’s?
8. For which talk show host is the cake a favorite?
9. Which company markets a “Moist Deluxe Red Velvet Cake” mix?
10. Which 1989 movie featured an RVC?

(Answers are in the “Photo Gallery” section.)


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