Award-winning, bestselling author Vicki Batman has written numerous romantic comedies and two humorous romantic mysteries. She describes herself as an avid Jazzerciser, handbag lover, Mahjong player, Yoga practitioner, movie fan, book devourer, chocaholic, and Best Mom ever. Most days begin with her hands set to the keyboard and thinking, "What if?" Learn more about her and her stories at her website/blog.
I Confess: My Love for Fruitcake
When I grew up, our family baked and crafted special things at Christmas time. Mom and her best friend spent hours and hours making oodles of divinity, and yes, it was divine. My sisters and I wrapped gifts for Wrap-a-thon. My grandmother baked her special holiday dessert: Tomato Cake.
The interesting ingredient in the cake is tomato soup. Sounds…strange, but you know what? If you didn't know soup was an ingredient, you'd love it too. I’m serious. You can’t taste tomato anything.
Tomato cake’s texture is dense, like regular fruitcake, and could be labeled a “fruitcake” when fruit is included. If you research online, you will see a bundt cake version. Grandmother mixed in raisins, walnuts, and chopped dates. And once, she got all radical and threw in chopped canned pears. She always baked hers in a loaf pan, yet, she didn’t frost it. Today’s version is topped with a decadent pineapple cream cheese frosting.
Our family believed Tomato Cake to be a wartime recipe. (Link to the original)
Before you get all weirdly freaked out about tomato soup in a cake, know this: I was a finicky eater; however, I loved this dessert. In fact, I adore fruitcake. There are many varieties of fruitcakes; some aren’t made with the candied fruit or alcohol we've come to associate with the treat.
Care to be daring and try a variation on Grandmother's holiday cake?
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Tomato Soup
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup water
Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 13x9-inch baking pan.
Stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, allspice, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves in a large bowl. Add the soup, shortening, eggs and water. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed just until blended. Increase the speed to high and beat for 4 minutes.
Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting:
½ C crushed pineapple with juice
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
Beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 2 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Beat in the confectioners' sugar.
Add the pineapple and juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the frosting is the desired consistency.
So why all this chatter about fruitcake? I wrote a hilarious short story entitled "The Great Fruitcake Bake-off” which is included in the Whispers of Winter holiday anthology:
The Great Fruitcake Bake-off
When five-time champion Samantha Greene teams up with her new neighbor, Dixon Roberts, for The Great Fruitcake Bake-off, they discover baking a prize-winning entry is complicated, bad guys are plotting to take the crown, and first prize isn't just about a ribbon.
Other authors in the Whispers of Winter anthology are: Nicole Morgan, Stephanie Morris, Caitlyn Lynch, Maya Bailey, Krista Ames, Sharon Coady, Donna R. Mercer, Jan Springer, Carma Haley Shoemaker, Livia Quinn, Amber Skyze, Rebecca Fairfax, Jane Blythe, Suzanne Jenkins, Stacy Eaton, Rene Webb, Marie Mason, Joann Baker & Patricia Mason, Karen Cino