Hey there, you. Yes, you the baker. It's me, your New Year's Baking Resolution. You know the one where you said you were going to be more adventurous, try new recipes, new ingredients, new flavors?

I've been hard at work searching for our first escapade, and have I got a doozie! Ready to learn more? Check out this Mystery Cake, it's made with..


Oh no you don't, get back here! You promised! Here, does this help?


Ah, now that's better. Mystery Cake is really a spice cake, rich with cinnamon and cloves, which just happens to use tomato soup. Trust me, it does not taste like tomatoes and if I hadn't told you, you never would have known and probably would have had two pieces, making Weight Loss Resolution rather miffed.

Actually, Weight Loss would be pretty pleased with this cake. It hails back to the 1930s, when butter and eggs were precious commodities, so very little of either were used in this recipe.

Don't get the wrong idea, though. This isn't a dry cake. On the contrary – it's very moist thanks to the soup, and doesn't even need any icing, although vanilla icing just sends it over the top of Mount Yummy. This cake was wildly popular for the better part of 40 years, until packaged mixes and flashy new recipes such as Red Velvet cake (1962) and Tunnel of Fudge (1966) pushed it out of the limelight.

NO MORE, I say! YOU are a culinary leader for a new year, a new decade!  YOU can bring Mystery Cake back to its former glory, and win the praises of your family, friends and co-workers at the same time.

YOU are a Baker!

Oh, good. I can see from that look in your eye that you're intrigued, inspired even. Let me show you how easy it is to make this cake, and you'll be off on the road to culinary greatness in 2010.


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9" round cake pan with cooking spray.


Line the pan with a circle of parchment paper, and spritz again.


In the bowl of your stand mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. The butter will lighten up in color and the sugar will blend in until it's nearly invisible.


Add the egg and beat until the batter is smooth and well combined.


Now for the fun part. Stir the baking soda into the can of undiluted soup (10 3/4 ounce size) . Kids love this part, it's like a science fair volcano.


Check out the fizz! Time to get this into the batter before we're cleaning tomato soup lava from the counters.


Pour the soda/soup mix into the batter and stir to be sure all the soup is combined.


At this point the batter will look curdled. That's normal and will be fine once the flour is mixed in. Hey, I'm your Baking Resolution. Would I steer you wrong?


Add the flour, baking powder and spices. You really should do this in a small bowl and whisk them all together first, to be sure that they are well combined. I think Less TV Resolution was out to lunch and I got caught up in a riveting episode of SpongeBob for a moment there.

Blend until well mixed. Stir in the raisins (if using).

Oooh, aren't you the creative thinker! Yes, you can use currants, or nuts, or a combination. If it sounds good to you, go for it! Just keep it around a 1/2 cup total.


Pour the finished batter into the pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.


Doesn't that smell great? Oh, sorry. I forgot you don't have smell-o-screen. I think that's on Bill Gates' Resolution list though. Shhh, I've said too much!


After loosening the sides of the cake from the pan, turn it out on a rack to cool. Peel the parchment circle off and revel in the easy cleanup.


Like I said before, this cake doesn't need any icing, but a simple vanilla glaze makes it over-the-top good. I've also heard that chocolate icing is delish, and cream cheese icing transforms Mystery Cake into a real celebration cake. If I may say so, it's mmm-mmmm, good!

I, your humble New Year's Baking Resolution, am so proud of you. You embraced the challenge with open arms and an open mind. I'm hot on the trail of our next culinary outing and I'll check in with you soon.

By the way, how do you feel about kelp? Or escargot? Wait, come back! Come baaaaack...

Please view, bake and review our recipe for Mystery Cake.

Filed Under: Recipes
MaryJane Robbins
The Author

About MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team the following year. MJ loves to create decorated cookies for the catalogue, and blog about all kinds of foods, especially sweet treats.