Every family has a recipe handed down from generation to generation that includes some unusual ingredients, such as using Coca-Cola to glaze a ham or mayonnaise on a grilled cheese sandwich. But this particular secret ingredient might just take the, well, cake. For almost a hundred years, there's been a secret ingredient in spice cake that makes it creamy and tangy: tomato soup.
Tomato soup cake is a Depression era cake that uses a can of Campbell's condensed tomato soup in a basic spice cake, which creates a delicious, moist cake. How does it taste, though? This vintage mystery cake has stayed popular for a reason, and using tomatoes in a baked good isn't all that surprising (think tomato pie), plus some international cuisines combine tomato with ground cinnamon and ground cloves (think Indian curry). It's ideal for a birthday cake or party cake, and although you may be hesitant trying it for the first time, you won't be disappointed.
The Origins of the Secret Ingredient
According to Campbell's Soup Company, the original recipe for the tomato soup spice cake was created in the late 1920s or early 1930s, but it didn't show up in their official company records until October 1940. The recipe started off as a Steamed Fruit & Nut Pudding that included cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves along with the can of tomato soup. In 1942, the company changed the recipe to a Halloween Spice Cake by taking out the fruit and adding Halloween decorations to the frosting.
The company continued to improve on the recipe, but in 1966 they hit on a winner. Experiment #38 was the best tomato soup cake recipe yet. Published in Campbell's cookbooks, it's still a popular recipe request today. The company has created other versions of the recipe as well, including a Bundt cake that adds the tomato soup to a gingerbread mix and a version with their low sodium tomato soup.
Tomato Soup Cake Recipe
This tomato soup spice cake recipe is super easy, with no prep time. Pour a box of spice cake mix into a large bowl, and add 1/2 cup water, two large eggs and a can of tomato soup. Add allspice or a cup raisins or pecans for extra flavor! Mix everything together, pour cake batter into a baking pan, and bake at 350°F for a cook time about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
This recipe makes two 8- or 9-inch round cakes, but you can also use loaf pans or make cupcakes instead of a cake pan, just adjust the total time for baking accordingly. If you have a favorite from-scratch recipe, you can use that, just add one can of tomato soup.
Frost the tomato soup cake with a cream cheese frosting, which is just a package of cream cheese, two tablespoons of milk, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and 16 ounces of confectioners' sugar/powdered sugar. Let the cake cool to room temperature on a wire rack before adding cream cheese icing.
This post was originally published on September 30, 2020.
Tomato Soup Cake
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp pumpkin spice
- 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 10.75 oz can Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1 cup raisins
For the Frosting
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 2 Tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 16 oz powdered sugar
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray two 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a bowl combine the flour, sugar, pumpkin spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the tomato soup, water, butter and egg and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Fold in the raisins.
- Pour into the two prepared baking pans and cook until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely
For the Frosting
- In a medium bowl whip the cream cheese until creamy. Add in the milk, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar and beat until smooth and creamy. Frost the cake and serve.