Friday, December 26, 2014

Great Canadian Ketchup Cake

December 14, 2014

I know my way around the kitchen reasonably well, but my skills are limited to the imprecise world of cooking, rather than the careful and measured art of baking. So every year when I tell Cindy to pick out a cake for me to make for her birthday, she's basically taken pity on me and 'forgotten'. This year I persisted, and she nominated this simple but strange ketchup cake that she originally spotted over at Lemonpi. It probably helped that she was going out of town for the weekend, so she didn't have to hear the cursing and see the chunks of icing flying off the beaters and across the kitchen, instead coming home to spotless counters and this slightly misshapen treat.

The actual process isn't really that difficult - at least if you're vaguely competent with electric beaters. My lack of any real skill only became evident at assembly stage, when my cake pieces sat a bit oddly on top of each other and my icing application left a few big gloopy clumps. It's not all about presentation thankfully, and this cake actually tasted alright - the tomato sauce isn't particularly obvious, but if you know it's in there you can catch a slightly odd salty flavour lurking under all the sugar. It's reasonably moist and the cream cheese icing is sweet and tangy, but otherwise it's a pretty basic cake - the novelty of the tomato sauce is really the key reason to give this recipe a shot. Still, it's a confidence builder for me - who knows what complex creation I'll bust out next December!

Great Canadian Ketchup Cake
(original recipe on 'Heinz it Up!', originally spotted on lemonpi)

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup tomato sauce (yes, really!)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons red food colouring
175g softened butter 
1.5 cups brown sugar
2 eggs

icing (note: this makes nearly double what I actually managed to smear onto the cake!)
175g brick-style cream cheese
175g softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
500g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line two identical cake tins - I used a pair of loaf tins.

Combine the flour, spices, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl and stir together. 

Mix the tomato sauce, water and food colouring in another bowl (enjoy the shockingly red colour!).

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until the mixture is smooth. Beat in the eggs. Once combined, add in the flour and the tomato sauce mixtures, beating it all steadily and scraping down the sides to get everything combined.

Divide the mixture between the two cake tins and bake for about 35 minutes, until the top is springy. Leave the cakes to cool for 15 minutes and then extract them from the tins and leave them to cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling, stir together the icing. Start by beating together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla and then gradually add the sugar, beating the mixture as you go to combine everything.

Once the cakes have cooled, spread the icing over the sides, the top and between the two cakes to make a big messy cake tower.


  1. Brilliant - I keep meaning to make a tomato soup cake - one of these days - the colour of this cake is fantastic and as someone who always had problems with layer cakes I think the layers look great too

    1. Oh, I think I've seen one or two tomato soup cakes! I imagine the effect is very similar.

  2. This looks very cool! What an amazing colour!

    1. Michael did such a great job! I was stoked to be presented this when I got home. :-)