Gluten-free tomato soup cake? you may be asking yourself. Is that for real? Is that even a thing?
Oh yes. It may sound a little odd to you, but I didn’t make up tomato soup cake. It’s a real thing. And it’s delicious.
Tomato soup cake apparently came out of a time of thrift, since it seems to have originated in the 1920s or 1930s. Home bakers without regular access to fresh milk or much butter set out to make delicious cakes that weren’t terribly dry. Since that soup in the can that Andy Warhol made famous had been around for decades already, those bakers turned to condensed tomato soup and shortening to make a great cake. I had heard of tomato soup cake before, just an odd idea floating around in the back of my memory. However, when the Kitchn published this piece about the history of it, I wrote it down in a note on my phone in all caps: TOMATO SOUP CAKE. Thankfully, Nancie McDermott has an excellent recipe for it in her always incredible Southern Cakes book. She did all the heavy lifting. I made it fit for our home.
I like oddball cakes. I like the cakes that don’t try to imitate the ones that came out of the box. Fact is, I’m not fond of anything that comes out of a box — at least metaphorically. There’s too much pressure in this culture to be exactly like everyone and everything else — light, fluffy, pleasing, no surprises. Oh heck with that. How boring is that?
When you’re first diagnosed with celiac or any other medical condition that requires you to be gluten-free, you might go through some real grieving. (I wrote about the psychological part of needing to be gluten-free in this guide.) You might feel left out, like a 7th grader with no seat at the lunch table. It’s easy to believe you are going to miss the bread or cake or pie, but what you’re probably grieving is the feeling of ease, of being part of the crowd. You’re going to feel like the outsider for awhile. The odd girl out.
That’s why I’m so glad I have the squad of people who love me and never make me feel like a freak because I can’t eat gluten. That’s Danny, who changed the menu in his restaurant to be gluten-free in 2006, since he wanted to feed me everything he made. He’s the one who insists that we keep our kitchen entirely gluten-free. He doesn’t want any chance of making me or Lucy sick. I have dozens of friends who have to be gluten-free. We can eat in each other’s homes without having to ask about cross-contamination. There are the dozens of friends I have who can eat anything they want — and some of them are bakers and bread makers and chefs — but they clean their kitchens and make me delicious gluten-free meals because they want me to feel welcome in their homes.
And it’s you, all of you who have been coming back to read here. I never feel like an oddball for having to be gluten-free. Not with an incredible community like this.
So I made you this cake, as a Valentine’s Day present, to say thank you. This cake is kind of goofy, not the usual. But it’s wonderful too. With the allspice and cinnamon and cloves, it’s a wake-up-the-senses spice cake. Imagine a super-moist carrot cake, with the taste of tomato instead. It’s a cake created out of deprivation and became something to celebrate on its own.
Let’s celebrate our authentic selves, who we are, not who we feel we need to be. You can’t eat gluten? (And for that, you could put in a hundred different realities, of course.) Stand up and say you who you are.
That’s how you’ll find your people.
This post was sponsored by Udi’s Gluten-Free as part of their #GFSquad campaign. While we were compensated to be part of the campaign, the opinions, words, recipe, and images in this post are all my own.
Udi’s #GFsquad Instagram Contest Participation Instructions:
- To participate in the #GFSquad contest with Udi’s, share a photo of your gluten-free supporter on Instagram with a short description of how this person has supported you during your gluten-free journey.
- This contest will run 2/1-2/19
- In your post, tag Udi’s (@udisglutenfree) and include #GFsquad
- What can you win? One (1) First Prize: $500.00 VISA® gift card. One (1) Second Prize: $400 VISA® gift card. Four (4) Third Prizes: $250 VISA® gift card. Total Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”) all prizes: $1,900.00.
- FIND ALL THE RULES HERE: http://udisglutenfree.com/gfsquad-rules/
gluten-free tomato cake
You could use any frosting you like here for this cake. We made a quick powdered sugar-soft butter frosting, with a touch of lemon juice. Cream cheese frosting would be great. (We have a cream cheese frosting recipe we love, along with an entire chapter on gluten-free cakes, in our latest cookbook, American Classics Reinvented.) I haven’t tried it yet, but I bet the coconut-tahini frosting we used on carrot cake last year would be wonderful too.
280 grams gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
275 grams (1 1/3 cups) sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
100 grams (1/2 cup) coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
300 grams (about 1 1/4 cup) tomato soup (we used Pacific creamy tomato soup)
Prepare to bake. Heat the oven to 350°. Grease two 8-inch cake pans.
Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, allspice, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves in a large bowl.
Make the batter. Add the sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. With the mixer running on low, add one egg at a time. When the sugar and eggs and light and fluffy, slowly drizzle in the melted coconut oil on the side of the bowl, ever so slowly, until the oil is fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
With the mixer running on low, add 1/2 of the flour mixture. When it is fully incorporated, slowly pour in the tomato soup. Finally, mix in the remaining flour. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer back onto low. The batter might be quite thick at this point, since the soup is generally thick. Add up to 1/4 cup of water until the batter is the thickness of typical cake batter.
Bake the cakes. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 cake pans. Bake until the cakes are golden brown with no hint of liquid left and the edges are just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 25 minutes. You can also insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. When it comes out clean, the cake is done.
Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes. Turn them onto a cooling rack and allow them to cool to room temperature before serving.
Makes 2 8-inch layer cakes.
Feel like playing? You can easily use another oil besides coconut here, although the taste of it plays well with the allspice and cloves, in particular. Coconut sugar would work here well for the same reason.
gluten-free girl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.