Tomato soup in a cake? Not as weird as it may seem when you consider we’ve all been eating carrot cake for years. We love the idea of this daring, but homey fall dessert recipe – bring it along to an autumn gathering so that guests can eat one less pumpkin spiced something! 

We’re all about using fruits and veggies in unusual ways (here’s proof) and if you’re looking for a vegan or gluten-free version of this recipe some of these stories might help you get started: our fave gluten-free flour, a raw, vegan dupe for cream cheese frosting, an a slew of vegan swap ideas.  If sticking with ingredients as is, we suggest using grass-fed butter and free-range, local eggs. 

This clever, cozy recipe comes to us straight from the pages of the new Food52 BakingHere are the Food52 editors with more on the origins of the recipe…

Don’t let the can of Campbell’s tomato soup in the ingredient list freak you out. Former editor Marian Bull’s late grandmother, Ruthie, dared to go there, and we’re glad she did. Despite the inclusion of an unusual ingredient – which apparently originated with Irish immigrants looking for cheap alternatives to bake with – the result is a rich and complex spice cake that wants for a soft cream cheese frosting. Serve it up and ask all of your guests to guess the secret ingredient.

Tomato Soup Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes one 8-inch layer cake; serves 10 – 12


For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1⁄3 cups granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1⁄2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp ground cloves
1 (10 3⁄4-oz) can condensed tomato soup
1⁄2 cup unsalted butter or shortening, melted
2 eggs
1⁄4 cup water
1 cup raisins

For the cream cheese frosting:
1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
2 to 3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
optional flavorings: 1 tsp vanilla, 1⁄2 tsp finely grated lemon zest, or 1⁄4 tsp ground cinnamon or allspice


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans, then shake out any excess flour.

To make the cake, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon and cloves. Add the soup, butter, eggs and water, and, using an electric mixer or whisking vigorously by hand, beat until smooth (and pink!). Fold in the raisins. Pour into the prepared pans.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake springs back to the touch. Let the cake cool completely before frosting.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, then add the remaining confectioners’ sugar as needed to create the desired consistency. Mix in the additional flavoring ingredients to the frosting, if desired.

You can either frost just the top of each layer, leaving the sides of the cake unfrosted, or cover the entire cake in frosting, sides included. To frost just the tops of the layers, use half of the frosting atop each one. To frost both the tops and the sides, put one layer of the cake on a serving plate and spread about one-third of the frosting evenly over the top. Set the other layer on top, bottom (flat) side up, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.

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