Not your mother's tomato soup cake

December 30, 2010
2 Ratings
  • Makes 8" square or round cake
Author Notes

One of my fond childhood memories cherishes the wonder of a spice cake made from canned tomato soup. I remember the first time my mother was going to make this for me, I thought she was crazy! The recipe contained no eggs, butter, or milk. How on earth was it going to be any good? But after that first bite of the finished product, it became one of my favs. The cake was moist, creamy, not too sweet, and just delicious. We always made a cream cheese frosting to finish this off. This was one of those recipes my mother had learned during the depression of the thirties. Well updating this for our times, I learned a healthy vegan version at the baking and education center up at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vermont. They use canola oil in their recipe, but trust me, olive oil instead is really wonderful here! I also have added new spices, a different sugar, and espresso. This delicious cake can hold up all week long, if it is not eaten up first. —Sagegreen

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (King Arthur)
  • 2/3 cup muscovado sugar, packed (or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground sumac (Rhus coriaria) or lemon zest
  • 1-2 tablespoons instant espresso powder, your choice of strength, optional
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (Tahitian preferred)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or canola oil)
  • 1 cup low sodium V8 juice
  • 1/4 cup yellow raisins, plumped up in 1 tbl. of V8 juice, optional
  • 1 teaspoon lemon (or orange) zest, optional
  • powdered sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. For convenience measure all the dry ingredients (excepting the sugar dusting) directly into an 8 inch pan. After blending these evenly with a fork, make 2 indentations. Pour the vanilla into one dent and the V8 juice into the other. Stir all the ingredients together with a fork until well blended. Add in the optional yellow raisins (drain off V8 juice before adding) and lemon zest. If you prefer to use a conventional mixing bowl and want to plate the cake, rather than serve out of the pan, then spray your pan with canola oil before pouring the mix into it.
  3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. You can serve this right from the pan. If desired, dust with powdered sugar (or non dissolving sugar) using a fine meshed sieve held about 6 inches above, when the cake is cool. Optionally, you can place an object on the top of the cake and sift powdered sugar around it for a fun decorative effect. You can also serve this cake warmed. For non-vegan options, serve with a dollop of crème fraiche, ginger ice cream, or coffee flavored icing (see photos). Slice into small pieces and enjoy, from one depression era to another.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • nannydeb
  • Panfusine
  • fiveandspice
  • hardlikearmour
  • boulangere

19 Reviews

nannydeb May 3, 2011
I must have missed this one!? I can't wait to make it!
Sagegreen May 3, 2011
Thanks! Your recent cakes look fab!
Panfusine April 21, 2011
wow, the title is soo eye catching, tomatoes, soup... & BAM!! an absolutely unique vegan cake.. LOVE IT!,
Sagegreen April 21, 2011
Thanks, Panusine,...and with that caffeine boost, this is great for breakfast!
Sagegreen April 21, 2011
and sorry for that little typo, Panfusine!
fiveandspice April 21, 2011
Fascinating! What an interesting idea, and great story.
Sagegreen April 21, 2011
Thanks, fiveandspice.
HCR April 21, 2011
wowiezowie. by the way, nice to know you like basel. this weekend i'm going to freiburg. i've never really been there!
Sagegreen April 21, 2011
Thanks, h.c.r. Please say hello to Freiburg for me! Also spent a summer in Staufen studying German...back when they had a Goethe Institut there. I got to work at the Gasthaus zur Krone, at first just ironing linens (mangeln) but then getting promoted to serving food and beer! such fond memories, especially food memories!!! Spargle season.
hardlikearmour April 21, 2011
This is an inspired recipe, as expected! Love!
Sagegreen April 21, 2011
Thanks, hla!
boulangere April 20, 2011
This reminds me of Thunder Cake, that wonderful children's book. I used to organize treasure hunts around my son and daughter's elementary school around that book for the ingredients, and then we would mix and bake the cake.
boulangere April 20, 2011
By Patricia Polacco, the name finally came to me.
Sagegreen April 20, 2011
Thanks! I will look up that book. Love the idea of treasure hunts. I can't wait to go back to King Arthur Flour for more courses this summer! When I first made this cake it did not have any espresso. But it suits this cake really well. With all these recipes this week I will use up my espresso in no time.
boulangere April 20, 2011
Wish you lived closer. I'd love to have you in some of my classes.
Sagegreen April 20, 2011
I would love to learn more about your classes! Any summer offerings? I am thinking about proposing a culinary history class for our honors students next year. And it might fly.
boulangere April 20, 2011
We seriously need to talk. I will email you my phone #.
Midge January 1, 2011
Sounds intriguing! Anxiously awaiting more of your King Arthur-inspired recipes. Would love to take a class there.
Sagegreen January 1, 2011
Thanks for finding this, Midge! I also made a "Margarita" icing with orange zest for this. Highly recommend the KA classes. Am going back this Thursday for another. Btw I love your suggestion of doing a sumac thinking about it!