Saturday, October 15, 2011

It's All About The Mystery Ingredient

Popular in the depression era were mystery cakes that featured a surprising ingredient: condensed tomato soup. This cake tastes like a cross between a spice and carrot cake flavored with nuts and raisins. Perhaps this cake was popular during the depression era because eggs and dairy products were in limited supply. Most of the recipes I looked at use a small amount of butter and no eggs. The condensed soup makes the cake moist. Recently I had this cake and would have never guessed the mystery ingredient. The recipe posted is one from a friend's mother dating back to the 30's. If you Google and type in mystery cake or tomato soup cake several similar recipes come up. I think making and serving this cake would be a really good conversational piece for your guests!
Andy Warhol's paintings of Campbell's soup cans transformed him into an overnight sensation when they were first exhibited in 1962. The exhibition featured 32 portraits of soup cans each identical except for the flavor inscribed on their labels. These portraits are now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Of all the varieties of soup Warhol produced the tomato one was his most valued. Once when asked why he chose to paint Campbell's soup cans he said that it had a personal significance to him as a consumer. He used to have the same soup lunch every day for 20 years. The tomato soup can portrait by Warhol is one of the most iconic images of the 20th century ushering in the birth of the Pop Art Movement. It is posted at the top of the blog.

Tomato Soup Cake
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 can tomato soup concentrate(Campbells)
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Cream shortening and sugar
  • Empty soup can into a small bowl and add baking soda-Not to worry it will foam!!!
  • Slowly add soup mixture to shortening/sugar mixture. Not to worry it will appear curdled!
  • Sift dry ingredients together and add to tomato mix
  • Mix well and add nuts and raisins
  • Pour into greased 8 or 9 inch square pan
  • Bake @ 350 for about 30-35 minutes
  • Frost with cream cheese frosting

1 comment:

  1. Hi, came over to visit from the SP front porch.

    My mom grew up in the Great Depression, I'll have to ask her about tomato soup cake.

    Several years ago at work ( a Blood Drive) a man took out a folded up piece of paper from his wallet, a recipe for tomato soup cake from his Aunt- he wanted me to have it; I had just met him-he said it was delicious. Can you post a cream cheese icing recipe. Have a great day!