I recently shared a picture of my Tomato Soup Spice Cake on Facebook and some of my followers asked for the recipe, so I’m happy to post it here.
First, here’s a little history of this delicious cake. Campbells canned their first tomato soup in 1897. It cost 10 cents a can. In 1922, it cost 8 cents and in 1944, it cost 9 cents a can. The recipe for this cake first appeared on the label of the soup can. It was printed in an undated cookbook, thought to have been published in the 1920s. We can assume Campbells developed the recipe in an effort to sell more soup! What does the can of soup do for a cake? It makes it moist and a little denser than the recipe would be without it. It also adds a flavorful tang that we can’t really detect as tomato. However, unlike apple sauce, it does not replace eggs in the recipe.
The first recipe calls for butter and sugar, both of which were rationed during wartime, so I am a little bit confused by the cake’s popularity during WWII. Shortening was also rationed during this time, but the cake’s popularity continued to rise through the decades. Finally, in the 1950s with the advent of cake mixes, Campbells published a recipe adding a can of tomato soup to a spice cake mix.
I found my recipe in my Mother-in-law’s recipe box. Most of her written recipes were actually her mother’s, so I’m dating my version to the 1930s. It is delicious, versatile and gets better day by day as you store it! My recipe was baked in bread loaf pans and dusted with powdered sugar. Today’s versions, which are all over the internet, suggest cream cheese frosting or buttercream frosting.
Tomato Soup Spice Cake
Combine the butter, sugar and eggs and whip until fluffy. Combine all the dry ingredients (including the spices) and beat it into the butter mixture a portion at a time. This will be thick. Add the can of soup and use the water to clean out the can. Pour the water into the batter. Mix until the batter is creamy. Gently fold in the raisins and nuts. Any nuts will work, and I added dried cherries to my recipe this time. Dates and dried cranberries would be wonderful, too.
This recipe fills a bund pan, but you can bake it in a 13x9 inch pan, or two round layer cake pans. Bake it at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
Let the cake cool 15 minutes, before turning it out of the bundt pan. There are lots of ways to top this cake. I like it with no topping other than a little whipped cream. Add a drizzle of caramel sauce and it is even better.