Instead of telling you what I’m making this week, I’ll let a picture do the work of a thousand words:
See that can there, all the way on the right?
Yes, that’s condensed tomato soup, which can only mean we’re making… tomato soup cake! This rather disconcerting idea was suggested by Jim Dunn of Retrosnark, and seemed just edible enough to qualify for my cooking. (There are some retro recipes I will never try in a million years, such as anything with tongue or canned brains; however, I’ll always bake and eat cake.)
There are a few distinct categories of retro recipes:
- A recipe which has been passed down through generations. Usually delicious.
- A traditional recipe, adapted to (a) deal with a lack of ingredients (e.g. rationing), or (b) use a particular brand (e.g. CAMBELL’S condensed soup)
- A recipe which was made up ONLY to show how versatile your product is. Usually not delicious.
I’m pretty sure the Tomato Cake falls in the third category, or maybe, if I was feeling very generous, category 2b.
Tomato Soup Cake
2 cups sifted cake flour or 1.75 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup shortening
1 can (10.5 ounces) condensed tomato soup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch round layer pans. Sift dry ingredients together into large bowl. Add shortening and 1/2 can soup. Beat on medium speed of electric mixer for two minutes (150 strokes per minute by hand). Add remaining soup and eggs. Beat 2 minutes more, scraping bowl frequently. Pour into pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Let stand in pans 10 minutes; remove and cool on rack. Frost with cream cheese frosting or use your favorite white frosting.
While I was assembling the ingredients, I found myself wondering why there wasn’t any salt listed in the recipe, and whether I should add a pinch. Then I remembered I’m using canned soup.
Eeeeeeyeah. 30% of your RDA of salt is probably plenty.
The tomato soup makes the mixing bowl look like a crime scene involving a wood chipper; once it is blended in, it turns the batter (and eventual cake) into a odd shade of orange.
Now, I wanted to be open-minded about this cake. Both Buzz and I are big fans of carrot cake, which is another odd combination of cake and vegetable. And tomatoes are a pretty sweet vegetable, so mixing them into a spice cake instead of carrot bits isn’t necessarily bad… in principle. But not even a nice cream cheese icing could really save this.
Unfortunately, condensed tomato soup tastes a lot more like ketchup than like tomatoes. (So you can also call this a ketchup cake if you’d like.) In particular, it has quite a lot of salt; this can be appealing in soup or many other dishes. But a salty cake just isn’t quite right. We split one piece of cake, which usually involves grabbing the plate back and forth and fighting over the fork; for tomato cake, it was a picture of politeness.
“No, you have a bite now.”
“No, I insist, you have a taste.”
“Here, dear, I’ve left the last bite for you.”
“Oh no, I couldn’t possibly, you go ahead.”
And so on. (Luckily, the kids both thought it was delicious — which means we won’t have to feed it to the dog.)