Ever wake up feeling like treating yourself to something special? This morning, after a run in the rain, I decided to indulge with the Fresh Tomato Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting from The Garden-Fresh Cookbook.
My parents were skeptical: “Seriously? Tomato cake?” I nodded while sifting flour into the mixture. I had never tried, or even heard of, a tomato cake, but figured I wouldn’t feel too guilty munching on this kind of cake in the A.M. hours.
This was also my first experience peeling a tomato, but The Garden Fresh Cookbook was there to help. It’s really very simple: Immerse a whole tomato speared with a fork into a pot of boiling water for about 5 seconds. Plunge it immediately into an ice-cold bath for 3 to 5 seconds. Then, holding the fork with the tomato in one hand, slash the tomato skin with a sharp knife, then pinch the skin between your thumb and the knife’s blade. Voilà! Peeled tomato! The hard part was doing this while taking photos. I don’t recommend trying this at home!
The texture of this cake is similar to that of pound cake, thick and rich. I also couldn’t help myself: I had to try the batter and must say that if there’s any way to get kids to eat tomatoes, this cake (cooked, of course!) will do the trick! I chose to make a layered cake instead of the 13x9 instructed in the recipe, so I used two round pans. With the difference in the size of pans, I set the timer for 20 minutes (instead of 35) and watched the cake carefully during its final 7 minutes.
While the cake was in the oven, I made the cream cheese frosting. Because I was out of vanilla extract, I used maple extract instead. It was an equally delicious alternative to pump up the flavor of the already scrumptious cream cheese frosting.
After letting the cake cool for about an hour, I decorated it with the cream cheese frosting and a few pecans. I eagerly cut myself a slice for breakfast, grabbed my coffee, and enjoyed a morning of decadence with this fancy and filling dessert made with fresh tomatoes!
Fresh Tomato Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting
In the 1930s, tomato soup cakes were all the rage, yet they were a mystery because they did not taste like tomato soup. Make your tomato cake with ripe tomatoes from your own garden!
1 cup dark-brown sugar
½ cup shortening
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped ripe tomatoes
½ cup chopped nuts
½ cup chopped dates
½ cup chopped raisins
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 package (1 pound) confectioners’ sugar
milk, as needed
For cake: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 13x9-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and shortening and mix until creamy. Add the eggs, beating after each. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Sift the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture and stir to blend. Add the tomatoes, nuts, dates, and raisins and stir thoroughly. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool.
For frosting: In a large bowl, combine the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla and mix until creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar. If the mixture becomes too thick, add a little milk. Frost when the cake is cool. Makes 12 servings.
Jane received her Bachelor’s in Fine Arts at Western Washington University where she studied Creative Writing. She now lives in the greater Seattle area, where she writes and drinks copious amounts of coffee. When she isn’t writing, cooking, gardening, or taking photos, you can find her at local shows and concerts, or running to prepare for yet another half marathon.