The Recorder An outdated recipe for an unlikely cake: The thriller in Thriller Cake is a can of tomato soup

This week I’m immersed within the twenties of the final century. Pianist Jerry Noble and I are getting ready for a live performance on Saturday referred to as “Improbable Rhythm: Songs within the Air from a Century In the past.” We’re making an attempt to recreate among the sounds of that nice decade.

A part of my job on this collaboration is to pick and study the music that was fashionable in the course of the Nineteen Twenties, and up till that decade as nicely; Musical style would not essentially must precisely divide itself for many years.

Jerry and I’ll really begin within the 1840s with Stephen Foster, the primary American composer of people songs to make a reputation for himself with such memorable songs as “Stunning Dreamer,” “My Outdated Kentucky House,” and “Arduous Instances Come Once more No Extra.”

We’ll cycle via vaudeville and early Broadway hits earlier than singing our manner again to the Nineteen Twenties with songs like “I will See You in Cuba,” a quantity about Prohibition, when folks have been in search of alcohol outdoors; “My Boyfriend”, an upbeat sentimental tune; and “Makin’ Whoopee”, a tune about… nicely…

In between numbers, I will do my finest to contextualize the music and discuss concerning the tradition of the ’20s.

I take pleasure in speaking about tradition as a lot as I take pleasure in singing. The Nineteen Twenties was an vital decade as a result of in some ways it represented the primary really trendy period in america. A lot of what defines us now flourished within the so-called Roaring Twenties.

For the primary time, the 1920 census listed extra Individuals as dwelling in city areas than in rural areas.

The last decade additionally noticed an exponential enlargement of American shopper tradition generally, as promoting grew and producers got here to imagine that with the intention to maintain the financial system going, they needed to enhance demand for increasingly bodily items.

and ready meals which have been developed with a vengeance. Canned items have been round for over a century. They have been more and more produced within the Nineteen Twenties, they usually have been joined by a variety of new processed meals merchandise that stay immediately, together with Kool-Help, Popsicle, Velveteta, and Marvel Bread.

This week I made a decision to recreate a staple from this decade. It took me some time to determine what I needed to do. Should be my grandmother’s favourite recipe, a busy housewife of the Nineteen Twenties? Should it’s one thing you noticed in a silent film?

In the long run I made a decision on a recipe that has at all times fascinated me with its improbability: tomato soup cake.

This combination was initially referred to as Thriller Cake, maybe as a result of bakers, like myself, have been reluctant to confess that their spice cake included a can of tomato soup focus, an odd and mysterious ingredient. I made it with the traditional American canned tomato soup, Campbell’s.

The Campbell Firm was included as Anderson & Campbell in 1869. Joseph Campbell, who bought vegetables and fruit, and Abraham Anderson, a meals canner, determined to mix their sources and expertise. Anderson left the corporate in its first decade, so Campbell is the title Individuals know him now.

In 1894, the corporate produced its first soup, a ready-to-eat tomato. In 1897, it took benefit of a newly invented thickening course of to supply Condensed Tomato Soup, which was quickly adopted by different intense soup flavours.

In keeping with the meals desk, the primary point out of tomato soup cake got here in 1928. It was known as a thriller cake.

The soup offers the spice cake loads of moisture (there may be little or no fats within the recipe) and offers it a barely orange color.

A model of this recipe was the primary to seem on the label of a can of Campbell’s soup, though this look got here just a few years after the cake’s entry into fashionable cooking.

After I tasted the cake, I felt like I might style tomato soup—or at the least style one thing vaguely processed—however maybe that feeling was imaginary. General, Thriller Cake comes out like a daily spice cake.

Right here is the recipe, tailored from King Arthur Baking. As you may see from the photographs I used my very own half sized Bundt pan for the cake. That is an anachronism. The primary Bundt pan wasn’t made in america till 1950. If you wish to bake an precise Nineteen Twenties cake, use a 9-inch sq. pan.

I occur to be a fan of Bundt cake as a result of this form ensures that each eater will get a slice on the skin, which is my favourite piece of any cake. Nonetheless, I promise to not take pleasure in any anachronisms at my live performance.

“The Good Rhythm” will likely be carried out on Saturday, July 29 at 5 p.m. at Federal Church on Route 2 in Charlemont. Donations on the door will assist assist Mohawk Path live shows.

Nineteen Twenties Thriller Cake (also referred to as Tomato Soup Cake)


1 giant room temperature egg (You may simply attain this temperature by taking the egg out of the fridge and putting it in heat water for a couple of minutes.)

2 tablespoons of canola oil

1 cup of sugar

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed tomato soup

1 teaspoon of baking soda

salt 1/2 tsp

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon of cloves

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup of raisins


Preheat the oven to 350 levels. Grease a 9-inch sq. cake pan or a 6-cup baking pan with flour.

In a bowl, combine eggs, oil and sugar. Combine the tomato soup, then baking soda, salt and spices. On low pace, combine within the flour, adopted by the raisins.

Pour the combination into the ready pan, and bake till a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clear, about 35 to 40 minutes. Eat the cake plain or (ideally) with cream cheese frosting. 6 providers.

Tinky Weisblatt is an award-winning writer and singer. Her most up-to-date e book is Good Luck: Random Culinary Acts. Go to her web site,

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