The weather is cooling, and fall baking fills the air with the warm aromas of cinnamon and pumpkin spice. Spice cake recipes from turn-of-the-century cookbooks call for early forms of baking soda, which require an acid and the presence of heat to create a reaction that generates carbon dioxide bubbles. Tomato soup being acidic, provides the acid to make that reaction occur, the same way applesauce does. These spice cake balls are using both applesauce and tomato soup, making them super moist and full of flavor.
Who knew that a can of tomato soup could be turned into a cake? Condensed tomato soup appeared in stores in the late 1890s, and recipes for tomato soup cake began appearing in cookbooks in the late 1920s, early 1930s. This cake gained popularity likely in response to the depression, since the original recipe didn’t contain eggs or milk, which were in short supply during that time. Canned goods were an important staple during the depression, and like mayonnaise, the soup serves to bring moisture and bind the cake together. While it does not leave a tomato flavor in the cake, it does give the cake a lovely reddish color.
The Campbell Soup Company didn’t actually produce a recipe until 1940 and by 1960 it was featured on a Campbell’s soup label, making it the first recipe ever to appear on a soup can.
Tomato soup cake has moved beyond its humble origins. It is truly a recipe for all ages and for all seasons, a recipe that has been revised and modified to suit changing needs and tastes, a recipe that has stood and triumphed over the test of time. Around 1966, a cream cheese–frosted version surfaced, which remains the most popular version to this day.
The pumpkin spice cream cheese frosting is truly the ‘icing on the cake‘.