I Can't Believe It's Not Pumpkin Cake!

Today is a very fun day in Mexico.  It's El Dia de los Santos Inocentes.  (The Mexican April Fools Day.)   Now I love a good prank or practical joke, especially if I'm the genius mastermind behind it all.  Because I've been a little busy lately playing around in my kitchen (which once again has running water and electricity) to properly plan a good prank,  I thought it best to surprise Hubby and the kiddies with a fun, quirky cake that none of us have ever tried.

And I knew just the cake.

Making this cake was a bit of a challenge.  My kiddies are used to hanging out in the kitchen, passing me ingredients, helping me grease and flour the cake pans and of course licking the bowl afterwards.  But not with this cake.  I didn't want them to find out the secret ingredient, because if they knew before hand, they probably wouldn't have even tried it.  So I had to wait until they were all too busy and preoccupied with distractions like cartoons, Christmas toys and video games on the computer.  And even then, I kept looking over my shoulder every couple of minutes to make sure they didn't discover the secret ingredient.

As I read and re-read the recipe, I knew that the smart thing to do would be to halve the recipe, in case the cake turned out to be a complete disaster.  But I couldn't ignore that little voice inside my head that kept telling me that this cake was going to be just as delicious as every other cake I've baked from my Southern Cakes cookbook and it would be really fun to play a round of "name the secret ingredient" with everyone for Dia de los Santos Inocentes.   So, I went against my better judgement and made the full recipe.

For the 25 minutes that the cake was in the oven, my stomach was in knots.   I couldn't help but think that this cake was going turn out to be a big, fat, horrible FAIL!

When I opened the oven door, I found a beautiful, golden and aromatic cake that looked and smelled just like Pumpkin Cake.

Now for the moment of truth... I had to pinch off a piece to see what it tasted it like.  (Pause.)  OMG!  It tastes like Pumpkin Cake.  I pinched off  another piece to make sure I wasn't imagining things.  (Pause.)  Yep!  Tastes exactly like Pumpkin Cake.

Once the cake had cooled, I topped it with a little  Cream Cheese Frosting, then handed out slices of cake to Hubby, the kiddies, my suegra, my sister-in-law,  two of my college student nephews and one of my neighbors.  I tried my hardest not to laugh as we all devoured our cake and was pleasantly surprised that no one had guessed the secret ingredient.  Truth be told, I never would have guessed the secret ingredient either.  And no one believed me when I told them what the secret ingredient was.  They all thought it was a Santos Inocentes prank.

So what was the secret ingredient???

Tomato Sauce.


The recipe was for a Tomato Soup Cake, but since I've never seen a can of Tomato Soup here, I used tomato sauce.  And the result was absolutely delicious.  No joke!!!

If you like Pumpkin Cake, then you'll love this Tomato Sauce Cake, that really should be called "I can't believe it's not pumpkin" Cake!

I can't believe it's not pumpkin (or carrot) cake! (Tomato Soup Cake)

I Can't Believe It's Not Pumpkin Cake!
(Tomato Soup Cake recipe adapted from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1-1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1-1/4 cups plain tomato sauce (or one 10-3/4 oz. can tomato soup) 
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup water

Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.  Mix with a fork until well combined.

Tomato Sauce Cake Prep 1

Add in the tomato sauce, butter, eggs, vanilla extract and water.  (My kiddies didn't believe this was really a Tomato Sauce Cake until I showed them this photo. ) 

Tomato Sauce Cake Prep 2

Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined and the batter is creamy.  (About 2 to 3 minutes.) 

Tomato Sauce Cake Prep 3

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan/dish.

Tomato Sauce Cake Prep 4

Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center.  (I couldn't resist pinching the cake over and over again, because it was so good!)  Let the cake cool to room temperature.

Tomato Sauce Cake Prep 5

Prepare the Cream Cheese Frosting by creaming together the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy and spreadable.  (If frosting is too soft, add more powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time until desired consistency.  And if the frosting is to thick, thin it out by adding a tablespoon or two of milk until desired consistency.)

Tomato Sauce Cake Prep 6

Refrigerate the frosted cake for 30 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!!!

Tomato Sauce Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting



  1. I knew it before you even said it!  Well okay, I was going to say Tomato Soup Cake...but close enough, right!?  I made Tomato Soup cake (using that can of condensed tomato soup), and we all thought it tasted like a Pumpkin spice cake.  I used a cream cheese frosting, too...cuz really, it just fits. Looks awesome!

  2. I have made the Tomato Soup Cake before; although I don't think that I ever told my sons what was in it lol. It is very good.
    Have you ever made BEET cake?  It is really, really good.  So moist and you can't taste the beets at all.  My recipe was for a Chocolate Beet Cake and everyone loved it.  I did tell my sons what was in that one and they looked suspiciously at everything I baked for a while after that one lol.
    Happy New Year to you and your family.

  3. Cracking up.  This recipe was a running joke of the soap opera Passions.

  4. I have that book and have always wanted to try this cake!! How funny!!

  5. I discovered a recipe for tomato soup cake in my first Joy of Cooking. It was delicious. Never thought of tomato sauce, though. I should give it a try, this pictures look amazing.

  6. i never would have guessed!!! holy! Looks good too!

  7. Chocolate Beet Cake?  Do you have a recipe for it?  I love beets and never would have thought to bake them into a cake, but now that you mention it, it sounds like a great idea!  I hope to try that recipe some day soon.

    And next time I make a quirky cake, I think I'll hold off on telling my boys.  All day long, they looked at everything I served them to eat today and asked me if I didn't put tomato sauce in it. They were very suspicious, even of the cinnamon rolls I made for dessert tonight.  

    Happy New Year to you and Roy! :)  

  8. You are one smart cookie! :)  I can't get over how much it tasted like Pumpkin Cake.  Hubby and I kept saying "I can't believe it's not pumpkin", complete with Fabio impersonation. :P  

  9. I love my Southern Cakes cookbook!  It's my go-to book for easy and delicious cakes. :) 

  10. Slow-motion  hair flip and all, I hope ;P ha ha ha ha...

  11. Hi Leslie, I will look on my disc to see if I brought that recipe with me or not.  When I left Canada I also left my cookbooks.  I scanned a lot of the recipes and put them on a disc; but not sure if that was one of them that made the cut or not lol.  I will look.

  12. Hi Leslie, I just looked on my recipe disc and I guess that recipe didn't make the cut lol.
    It is a very moist cake and very tasty.I went and searched on ALLRECIPES.COM and found this recipe that sounds very similar to what I had; although I don't remember using buttermilk, just plain milk.Here is the one I found.  I haven't tried it so can't guarantee that it is the same; but sure sounds like it. Use raw beets, I used to grate them fine not just shred them so not sure about that instruction.
    American Beauty Cake with Deanna's Frosting

    By: RACHELS "This is an old family recipe Don't tell your kids the main ingredient, or they'll make oogy faces. This is a very moist rich cake with a lovely color and the frosting is wonderful."Rate/Review | Read Reviews (7)371 SavesAdd to Recipe BoxAdd to Shopping ListPrint this RecipeShare/EmailCreate MenuCustomize RecipeKitchen-friendly ViewPrep Time:30 Min
    Cook Time:48 Min
    Ready In:1 Hr 18 Min
    Servings  (Help)
    Original Recipe Yield 1 - 9x13 inch pan Ingredients
    1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour1 1/2 cups white sugar3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder2 teaspoons baking powder1/2 teaspoon baking soda1 1/3 cups buttermilk1/2 cup butter, softened3 eggs2 teaspoons vanilla extract2 cups beets, peeled and shredded 1 cup milk5 tablespoons all-purpose flour1 cup white sugar1/3 cup butter1/2 cup shorteningDirections
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.In a large bowl, mix 1 3/4 cup flour, 1 1/2 sugar, cocoa, baking powder and soda.Whisk in buttermilk, 1/2 cup butter, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in shredded beets and pour batter into cake pan.Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean.For the frosting: Combine milk and 5 tablespoons flour in a small saucepan, heat to a boil. Stir constantly for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup butter and shortening. Cool resulting mixture to room temperature and beat for 10 to 12 minutes until light and fluffy. Spread on cooled cake. This frosting is also excellent on spice or applesauce cake.Nutritional Information Amount Per Serving  Calories: 246 | Total Fat: 12.1g | Cholesterol: 45mg

  13. Thank you, Brenda!  This sounds like a chocolate zucchini cake.  I can't wait to try it! :)

  14. Wow, these pics make me hungry! Have to try this recipe, wiht the tomato sauce :)

  15. Let me know if you try it and also if your family likes it.
    Have a good day.

  16. Me encantaría probarla!! Se ve muy rica. Los que la comen sabe que lleva salsa de tomate?

  17. Hahaha - I love it!  Did you let them in on the secret?  

  18. No les digo que lleva salsa de tomate hasta despues de que lo comieron.  Muchos no lo podian creer.  No sabe nada a tomate!  :)  

  19. I did let them in on the secret, but I waited until after they had eaten their cake.  Most of them didn't believe me and thought I was playing a Santos Inocentes trick on them.  But the whole thing kind of backfired on me, because now my boys are suspicious of everything I feed them. They now think everything I make has tomato sauce. LOL :P