Vibrant Red Velvet Concepts Naturally
The Origin of Red Velvet Cake
The vibrant red velvet concept is popular among many consumers and professionals in the food industry all around the world. From Starbucks cakes in the US to protein bites in Germany, it seems to be everywhere. Did you know that the history of red velvet cake goes back to the 18th century? … And it has not lost its popularity since then. Traditionally, red velvet cake is a layered cake topped with French-style butter roux icing, which was later often replaced by cream cheese. The unique red colour originally came from the presence of vinegar and buttermilk reacting with the anthocyanins in traditional cocoa powder. However, for most of the last few decades, the bright red colour has been achieved by adding food colouring, partially because cocoa powder used now is alkalized to neutralize its acidity.
Inspiring Different Categories
After the first red food colouring’s appearance on the US market in the 1920s, red velvet cake made its way into many households. Due to its unique look, the concept has expanded into other regions such as Europe, as well as categories other than cakes. Red, after all, is a colour that grabs the attention and can serve modern consumers’ desire for visually outstanding and instagrammable products.
In 2020, more than 25% of French consumers think a perfect cake or sweet baked good needs to have the “wow” factor according to Mintel.
Cupcakes were a more obvious extension for red velvet but cookies, coffee beverages, chocolate, and even alcoholic drinks demonstrate the breadth of appeal for the idea.
Source: Mintel Data, Behaviours related to cakes and sweet baked goods (2020)
European consumers show a significant interest in new concepts and sweets that are inspired by flavours from abroad. Red velvet cake has a great opportunity to satisfy consumers’ curiosity and desire for new and exciting items, not only in the bakery segment.
The Red Challenge
On average more than 50% of European consumers think that the healthiness of the cake/cake bars is just as important as the taste, Mintel reports. Furthermore, consumers show a significant interest in more natural, simple and recognizable ingredient lists in general.
From a technical point of view, red velvet is not overly challenging when it comes to baking applications traditionally with synthetic colours, however, heat, pH, and oil instability are things to be considered when developers wish to formulate with colours from natural sources.
Although anthocyanins were the original source of colour in red velvet, unfortunately, they are not a very good solution today. On average, baked goods are between pH 5 and pH 7 and in some cases, pH levels can shift even higher which can cause standard anthocyanins to shift from red
Standard beet is another option, but not without its own set of challenges. Beet is a pretty good shade of red at a pH level between 5-7. However, because of the Maillard reaction, beet has a tendency to brown and can sometimes have a bluer tinge than is desired for red velvet baked goods. One great option is to use a stabilized form of beet such as Sensient’s high stability formulations.
UberBeet™ is a platform for natural, heat-stabilized red formulations based on beetroot, enabling food and beverage manufacturers around the world to attain vivid, dark shades of red with natural ingredients. These high-performing, highly-concentrated solutions-colouring foods and natural colours- hold up well to a heat step in the process while complying with consumers’ growing demand for simple and natural ingredients. Natural colours made with the SupraRed™ technology are highly concentrated, therefore the low usage rate helps to minimize off-notes and to eliminate texture issues. Heat-stabilized red products are an excellent solution for not only bakery items but extruded products, dairy, confectionery, and savoury applications.