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Tomato Spice Cake Recipe & Video

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This is a recipe for a Tomato Spice Cake. Also known as a Tomato Soup Cake, a Mystery Cake, or a Surprise Cake. Of course, the "mystery" or "surprise" refers to the addition of a can of tomato soup to the cake batter. This cake was first made with canned tomatoes and was considered a cake you made in the winter. Later the recipe changed from using canned tomatoes to a can of tomato soup. I know it sounds a little weird, adding tomato soup to a cake batter. But when you think about it, it isn't so weird as tomatoes are a fruit and they are juicy sweet. While not absolutely necessary, I like to cover the top of the cake with a cream cheese frosting, as its tanginess pairs perfectly with the sweet and spicy flavor of the cake.

It does seem a little gimmicky adding tomato soup to a cake batter. But this is a Depression era cake and at that time there was a trend to use canned soups in cooking. It seems an innovative home economist, working for Campbell's Soup, came up with a recipe in the mid 1920s for adding tomato soup to a cake batter. The tomato soup actually replaces the liquid (milk) normally used when making a butter cake. Don't worry, the cake doesn't have a tomato flavor, it just adds sweetness and makes the cake wonderfully moist. And the tomato soup, along with the ground cinnamon, colors the batter a pretty pumpkin color. I added chopped nuts (can use pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts) to the batter, but raisins are also a popular addition. Delicious with or without the cream cheese frosting.
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Tomato Spice Cake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Butter, or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, a (9 x 5 x 3 inch) (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

Place the pecans (or walnuts) on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes or until brown and fragrant. Let cool and then coarsely chop.

In a bowl, whisk or sift the flour with the baking powder, salt, and ground spices.

In another bowl, stir the baking soda into the tomato soup.

In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat, on medium high speed, until the mixture is light and fluffy (about three minutes). Scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl as needed. Next, add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture (in three additions) with the tomato soup (in two additions), beginning and ending with the flour. Stir in the chopped nuts.

Pour the batter into the pan, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon or offset spatula. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (the sides of the cake will just be starting to pull away from the sides of the pan). Place the cake on a wire rack and let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pan. Let cool completely before covering the top of the cake with the Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. 

Makes 1 Loaf.

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Tomato Spice Cake:

1 cup (100 grams) pecans or walnuts

1 3/4 cups (225 grams) all purpose flour

2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 - 10 3/4 ounce can of tomato soup (305 grams)

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar

2 large eggs (100 grams), at room temperature

Cream Cheese Frosting: (optional)

2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 ounces (90 grams) full fat cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup (60 grams) confectioners (icing or powdered) sugar, sifted

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