Every week, Yahoo Food spotlights a cookbook that stands out from all the rest. This week’s cookbook is Food52 Baking: 60 Sensational Treats You Can Pull Off in a Snap by the Editors of Food52 (Ten Speed Press), a community-based recipe site.
Photograph by James Ransom
Makes one 8-inch (20cm) layer cake; serves 10 to 12
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.
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1 1⁄3 cups (265g) granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (10 3⁄4-ounce/305g) can condensed tomato soup
1⁄2 cup unsalted butter (110g) or shortening (100g), melted
1⁄4 cup (60ml) water
1 cup (145g) raisins
Cream Cheese Frosting
1⁄2 cup (110g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces (225g) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 to 3 cups (250 to 375g) sifted confectioners’ sugar
Additional flavorings such as 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1⁄2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, or 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon or allspice (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter and flour two 8-inch (20cm) 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 (250g) 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.
Reprinted with permission from Food52 Baking: 60 Sensational Treats You Can Pull Off in a Snap