I adore red velvet cake. It's certainly in my top 5 desserts, maybe #1. We made a couple batches of cupcakes last weekend to share from the recipe my mom always uses and added some aqua candy crystals through a snowflake stencil for the tops. About 10 years ago my dad took the time to scan every old favorite recipe in my mom's accordion file and organized them in a book for my sisters and myself. Pretty thoughtful, huh? Now I can compare my food color stains with my mom's! (I must get my sentimentality from my dad)
After sharing our adventures in cupcakery with my dad on the phone, he told me that mom got her recipe from a friend back in the 60s, who received the cherished instructions in the mail from a fancy restaurant after requesting it...along with a bill for $100. yikes.
The whole story got me thinking about copyright law and wondering particularly if a recipe could be copyright protected. Turns out, according to this article in the Washington Post, it can't*, because instead of an invention, cooking is seen as an evolution. Interesting distinction, huh? I would argue that inventions themselves and any work of art are part of an evolution also. Nobody makes anything, discovers anything, in a vacuum. We're all on the shoulders of giants, right? Such an interesting topic. (Did you know that fashion also cannot be copyright protected? Johanna Blakley gives a pretty fascinating TED talk on how other industries can benefit both in innovation and sales from fashion's free culture.)
So, I feel a little guilty typing the recipe on my blog since, #1 I don't even know the name of the restaurant to credit them and #2 at least in the 60s, they didn't want people to disseminate their cooking secrets for free.
HOWEVER, I do not feel guilty enough to not share that you can find the same exact recipe here.
*Now the particular way a recipe is communicated can be copyright protected just like a poem, but the actual ingredient list and directions are technically free. How to credit folks and when to share is a question of etiquette.
p.s. notice the thickness of the icing....I'm a maximalist when it comes to butter cream icing