Some of my favorite cookbooks are not slick hardbound volumes full of colorful photos. Some of them are old, well-used booklets of simple recipes that were put together decades ago for church and school groups with recipes from neighborhood mothers and wives. The colorful books are still wonderful, of course, but there is nothing like seeing some of the recipes that were popular – for better and for worse – just a half century or so ago. I like the entertainment value in some of the “bad” recipes and the nostalgia of the great ones – and I would put Tomato Soup Cake in the latter category. If you have a cookbook like the one I described, I can almost guarantee that a version of this recipe is in there.
Tomato soup cake was, and is, a secret ingredient cake. This means that while tomato soup is one of the main ingredients in the cake, you can’t really taste it in the finished product. Versions of this recipe appeared, at various times, on the backs of cans of tomato soup. Condensed tomato soup is what most of the older recipes called for. I never have condensed tomato soup in my pantry, so I’ve adapted my own version of the classic tomato soup cake to use tomato juice or V8 juice instead (I usually use V8 juice; both work equally well).
Tomato juice seems like a strange ingredient compared to other cakes, but what you end up with is a sweet and moist spice cake that has a great flavors from all of the cinnamon, allspice and cloves in the recipe. It does not taste like tomato soup or tomato juice at all, although it is reminiscent of a carrot cake or pumpkin bread. You can definitely feel good about getting at least one serving of veggies when you eat a slice! Cream cheese frosting is a good match for spice cakes, and just a little bit makes a very nice topping for the finished cake.
Tomato Juice Spice Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 cup tomato juice or V8 juice
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8 or 9-inch square cake pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in spices, egg, vanilla extract and almond extract until well blended. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the tomato juice, followed by the remaining flour mixture. Mix only until no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 28-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow cake to cool in the pan before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
approx 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla until smooth. Gradually blend in the confectioners’ sugar until frosting is thick and fluffy. Add an additional tablespoon or two of confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin to spread easily.
JessikaFebruary 28, 2011
You can add chopped tomatoes (canned, with juice) to the cake over “just” tomato juice. I have decorated this kind of cake with different kinds of cherry tomatoes, and botanical tomatoes, too. On top of the cream cheese frosting i mean.
Kelsey @ Snacking SquirrelFebruary 28, 2011
this has got to be the most creative and delicious way anyone could ever incorporate tomato juice! <3
KelliFebruary 28, 2011
Hmmm…I have heard of this cake and the reviews have been positive, but I am still skeptical. Guess I’ll have to make it and find out for myself!
Nikki (Pennies on a Platter)February 28, 2011
Interesting, I’ve never heard of this cake before. I definitely want to try it out. I’m sure the hubs and I will both like it since we do like spice cakes, especially carrot! Thank you for sharing.
Beau @ SomethingEdible.comFebruary 28, 2011
I love a good community cookbook! Each one has a voice, and it really lets you know what folks were doing at that point in time. In fact, I noticed your post because I too have community cookbooks on the brain this week. =)
LucieMarch 1, 2011
Really interesting recipe! The tomato soup in France is nothing like the one in the US so I’ve never given any of these recipes a try–I’ll know to try using juice next time!
A Tablespoon of LizMarch 1, 2011
This looks good! I’ve never heard of tomato juice in a cake.
annaMarch 1, 2011
tomato juice cake does not sound very appealing…but the pictures of it look great and i’m intrigued. i think i will try to make it! thanks!
hungryandfrozenMarch 6, 2011
I love the sound of this (am always intrigued by baking with unusual ingredients). At first I wasn’t sure, but actually the tomato makes sense if you think about how sweet it is. I’m sure tomato juice would be nicer in the cake than condensed soup!
MarcyJune 5, 2011
I love tomato soup cake, but have never made tomato JUICE cake. I randomly have a case of canned tomato juice but I never drink the stuff, so I’m giving this recipe a go as we speak. It’s looking beautiful but I have to wait for it to cool to try it (but I did a taste of the batter and it was good so the cake shouldn’t be bad, either).
DesJuly 18, 2012
I made this cake following the recipe exactly and it had an odd salty metallic taste. I think that the sodium in the tomato juice added to the salt, baking soda, and baking powder was probably overpowering. It was inedible.
MaryMay 23, 2014
That taste is from the baking soda that wasn’t dissolved properly. Next time, mix it into the tomato juice (it will bubble up, that’s ok).
MaryMarch 7, 2017
Been making tomato juice cake since the 1940’s.. (will taste better without the Almond extract!)
AdamMay 23, 2017
Thanks for sharing, I cant wait to try this