Mystery Cake

Tomato Soup CakeWotchers!

A little sweetness this week, with the intriguingly named Mystery Cake!

oooOOoooOOOOooOEEEeeeEeooooooooOOOoooh! Dun-dun-DUNNNNNNNNNN!!!

OK enough sound effects. The mystery with this cake is the secret ingredient that seems to give a subtle warmth alongside the fruit, nuts and spices.

Also sometimes called Conversation Cake, because discussing what the secret ingredient might be can start one, the surprising addition to this cake is a can of condensed tomato soup. Which accounts for it’s other, rather more obvious name of Tomato Soup Cake.

For those of you whose stomachs just did a bit of a flip – I don’t suppose pointing out that a tomato is technically a fruit is any comfort? No?

You’ll just have to trust me when I say that there’s no tomato taste in this cake – just sweet raisins, nuggets of nuts and a wonderful combination of spices.

Using no eggs and very little fat, this recipe originated back in the 1920s, when money was tight and cake a luxury. Thankfully, we don’t have to be quite as careful with rationing out ingredients, but a low-fat cake is a great store-cupboard stand-by in anyone’s book.

Leave it plain for a traditional cut-and-come-again cake or gussy it up with decadent cream-cheese icing. The Depression Era Buttercream is another option, very well suited to this nostalgic and unusual cake.

This recipe is based on one that appeared in the LA Times in 1932.

Mystery Cake

60g butter or cake margarine.
200g caster sugar
1 x 295ml can of condensed tomato soup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2-1 tsp ground cloves
1/2-1 tsp ground allspice
75g seedless raisins
75g walnuts/pecans

  • Turn the oven to 175°C, 150°C Fan.
  • Prepare a loaf tin.[1]
  • Cream the fat and the sugar.
  • Tip the soup into a bowl and stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Let the bubbles subside.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and spices together.
  • Add the tomato mixture and the flour mixture alternately to the butter and sugar, mixing thoroughly.
  • Stir in the raisins and nuts.
  • Pour into greased cake tin and bake for up to 1 hour.[2]
  • Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • The original recipe recommends leaving the cooled cake for 24 hours before serving – presumably to let the flavours develop.

[1] I used a 24cm spring-form cake tin.
[2] My cake was baked in 40 minutes


3 Comments on “Mystery Cake”

  1. Miriam says:

    WoW! This sounds weird but nice! Might try it. I’ve recently been making fat free banana cake, which is great and unless you think about it alot, you don’t realise that it’s fat free. It does have a sort of coldness to it which indicates the lack of fat. But that might just be me… Anyway just wanted to tell you I really like your blog I think it’s cracking.

  2. Carmen says:

    Hmmmm I really love most of your recipes but I think I’ll give the tomato soup a miss… It actually frightens me. So I’ll try this cake without and substitute the soup with something else… Chilli infused tea? Not sure yet… 🙂 by the way: it’s gotta be Heinz!

  3. S says:

    Interesting cake. What is the texture like?


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