Food Friday: Tomato Juice Cake

The Penzey’s Spices catalog always has a few recipes in it, and the most recent edition had a recipe for tomato juice cake. This sounded so weird I knew I had to try it. In the catalog there’s a whole backstory about this cake and how it was originally made by the submitter’s father when he was a cook in the Navy, and how it doesn’t really taste like tomatoes. They’re right – it’s kinda like a cross between a quick nut bread and a spice cake. It got an “OK, but not amazing” vote from the guest judge (e.g. my spouse), but it was very moist and I think with a few tweaks it could be a winner.

Below is the original recipe. Changes I made: half a cup of whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup of white; 1 teaspoon baking spice and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice for the spices; 2/3 of a cup of sugar rather than 3/4, less for health reasons than because that’s how much was left in the container, but it turned out plenty sweet anyway; and I put in chopped walnuts but no raisins. I also didn’t bother to make the cream cheese frosting. (I think it’s finally happened; I’ve turned into my mother, the woman who can’t make any recipe as listed.)

Tomato Juice Cake
[Penzey’s Spices, Fall 2012]
1 1/4 cups white flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup tomato juice
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
1/3 cup walnuts, finely ground (optional)

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices; set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, applesauce and sugar until smooth; beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour mixture alternately with the tomato juice, beating until smooth and well blended. Stir in the raisins and ground walnuts, if desired. Pour into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting. For the frosting: in a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Mix until smooth. Spread over the cooled cake and serve.


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