Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tomato Soup Cake

I was kind of a strange kid. I really wanted to live in an old house or farm where I could find lots of interesting things in the attic or barn. Anne of Green Gables and Little Women were my favourite books (oh how I wanted so badly to have red hair like Anne Shirley... now I do). I was fascinated with antiques- I had a vintage vanity set (you know, the hand held mirror, brush and comb on a tray) in my room, and I once brought a hair net to show and tell (Good God that is embarrassing to think). So when I heard that today was the Wilmot Township Historical Society's annual heritage day and the theme was Recipes of Our Past, obviously I had to go.

I had a great morning talking to people from the community manning the tables, each of which were themed. There were old cookbooks, documentation of a heritage home's transformation into a restaurant, a maple syrup booth, vintage table linens, cheese, bread, and beer making in the region, and lots of old kitchen ephemera. All the stuff I geek out about.

I also talked to the women from the New Dundee Women's Society for a while- I would join if the meetings weren't on Tuesday nights when I work. Tyler may be right- I think there is a little old lady living inside me.

There were some handouts for heritage recipes, which I love of course. It is so interesting to see how people cooked and ate in years past. Look at the recipes below- they doesn't have any oven temperatures because baking would have been done in a fireplace. Cool!
Click to enlarge
The recipe for today's post is not a recipe from the Heritage Day, actually, and it's not as old as a lot of the early 1900's stuff I was looking at today, but this cake is vintage to be sure. 1950's I'd say. From what other era would come a recipe for a cake made with Campbell's soup?

I found this recipe in the local newspaper, the New Hamburg Independent. They do a column with "a treasured family recipe and the memories that make it special". The contributor of this recipe for Tomato Soup Cake says that her husband's mother used to make this cake for any and every occasion, and apparently he tried to sell it at a bake sale but nobody was buying tomato soup cake. They changed the name to "spice cake" and it sold out.

I wouldn't have looked twice at this recipe without this accompanying "review" but I'm glad I did. But still, I figured I'd make it once just to see what it was like but didn't expect much. 't is really delicious. It magically does not taste like tomato soup, I swear. Even the batter before baking the cake doesn't taste tomato-ey. It's pretty amazing. Tyler thought it was pumpkin cake. Next time I think I make it with pumpkin pie spices rather than just cinnamon. Yes, there will be a next time which I wouldn't have predicted before making this cake.

I can't think of any witticism to end this post with like I usually do, so here's the recipe. Go.

Makes 12 servings
Adapted slightly from The New Hamburg Independent 

  • 1 can tomato soup (apparently Campbell's works best)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins (I left these out as Tyler doesn't like them)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch square baking pan. In a small bowl mix together tomato soup and baking powder- it will become foamy. Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add tomato mixture, mix well, then add flour and cinnamon. Combine, then add raisins. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing top (can press lightly to level with damp fingers). Bake in middle of oven 50 to 60 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on rack then remove from pan. Serve cut into squares.

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