there are few scents as intoxicating as the smell of a spice cake in the oven. immediately, the house feels warm and inviting. once it comes out of the oven, very few can resist the urge to grab a knife and slice a thick slab. just be sure to take it out of the pan first…and speaking of that pan, if the directions call for you to grease and flour it, please, for the love of cake, heed the warning.
sad but true, i did not do as the directions instructed and the results were a lovely cake coated pan. sigh.
doubly sad since not only do i bake for a living, but that recipe was one of my own; i broke my own rule. my excuse, i was in a hurry. even worse, i needed the cake for a meeting and there was no way to hide this. so, off i went, head hanging low and my lame excuse at the ready for anyone who dared to ask.
funny thing is, no one seemed to think much of it. sure, they were a little surprised that i could have such a mishap, but none were the least bit shocked. it was if they knew something i didn’t and had just realized…regardless, i came home with a tray holding just a few small chunks and some crumbs. apparently, they liked it.
when they learned the cake had a secret ingredient, they went back for a little more. it was fun making them guess. spice cakes are easy to hide unusual ingredients in since the spices tend to mask the flavors of the other ingredients. are you curious about that ingredient? well, believe it or not, it was a can of crushed tomatoes. once baked, the tomatoes are not obvious in either appearance or taste. they do add some wonderful color and lots of moisture.
guess again tomato cake with pecans and raisins
makes 1 (10-12) cup bundt pan serving about 16
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup pecan pieces
3 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 ounces unsalted butter, softened
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 can (14.5 ounce) crushed tomatoes-make sure they do not contain things like garlic and herbs!
preheat the oven to 350. grease and flour the bundt pan. place the raisins in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a gentle boil. remove from the heat and allow them to cool completely in the water. drain well.
toast the pecans on a baking sheet for 5-7 minutes, allow to cool before using. in a mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking soda and the spices. in a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. add the eggs and mix completely, scrape the bowl and mix it in. place the dry ingredients into a sifter or mesh strainer and sift them over the butter mixture. fold it a few times by hand. pour the entire can of tomatoes over the top of the batter and fold it all together. fold in the raisins and pecans and scrape it into the prepared pan. bake until a tester comes out clean, about an hour. cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. invert onto a rack and allow it to cool completely.