A Surprising Secret Ingredient Makes this Layer Cake a Southern Favorite
Ask a friend if they have ever tried a slice of tomato soup cake and you will more than likely be on the receiving end of a strange look. You certainly don't see this cake on the dessert carts at ladies' luncheons and you will be hard pressed to find a recipe for a tomato soup cake in a modern cookbook.
Before you completely dismiss the idea of the tomato soup cake, however, think about the following. You've probably served the moist and tender Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake and received rave reviews from your guests. In the summer, when looking for ways to use up your prolific zucchini harvest, you don't hesitate to bake a loaf of Zucchini Bread. These vegetables are used to make delicious breads and desserts.
In a tomato soup cake recipe, the soup replaces the milk. The rest of the recipe is pretty straightforward; all purpose flour, eggs, sugar, butter or shortening, baking powder and/or baking soda (these leavening agents also help cut the acidity of the tomato soup) and wonderful, fragrant spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Once this cake is in the oven baking and your kitchen fills with the mouth-watering aromas of warm spices, all the naysayers will line up for a taste.
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Like many comfort food recipes we love today, the Tomato Soup Cake can be traced back to the Depression era, when home cooks "made do" with what they had. Sometimes referred to as Mystery Cake (perhaps the hostess didn't tell the guests what was really in the cake), recipes for this dessert first appeared in community cookbooks in the 1920s and 1930s. The Campbell's Soup Company, which had been producing condensed soups since 1897, soon developed their own cake recipe in an effort to further market their popular canned tomato product. Tomato soup cake recipes have evolved from the Depression-era single-layer cakes containing little dairy, to a British-style steamed pudding recipe that Campbell's Soup issued in 1940, to the fabulous spice-filled cake recipes of today, baked up as layer cakes, Bundt cakes, or cupcakes.
The cream cheese frosting in this Tomato Soup Spice Cake from Campbell's Soup is a modern addition to this old recipe, so go ahead and add your own personal touch (toasted pecans would be good!) and make the Tomato Soup Cake part of your collection of classic recipes.