Our second attempt at a tomato cake and we feel it went even better than our first. No frosting this time, just a simple olive oil cake. Roasting the tomatoes is important – it gives the tomato flavor a chance to deepen, makes it less vegetal and more fragrant and like a fruit. We feel the cake makes for a great breakfast or afternoon snack, but serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it’s not a bad dessert either. What we’d really like to do though, is to make this cake again and have it as a side to a good roast beef. Think chicken and waffles or chicken and cornbread – a combination of sweet and savory on a plate.
For the sweet roasted tomatoes:
5-6 large tomatoes, sliced into quarters
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp vanilla
For the cake:
1 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup good extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup blended sweet roasted tomato
1/3 cup lime juice
zest of one lime
2 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp orange extract
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
For the basil sugar:
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh sweet basil leaves
Make the basil sugar. Use a blender, grinder or food processor to pulse the sugar and basil until you get an even consistency. Set aside.
Make the sweet roasted tomatoes. Place tomato slices, sugar and honey in a small roasting tin. Toss to combine well. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until fragrant and soft. The tomatoes won’t be too dried out. Reserve some of the syrup for brushing onto your cakes. Cool for at least ten minutes then blend to get a puree-like texture. Set aside till ready for use.
Make the cake. Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Grease and line two 8×2 inch cake tins.
In one bowl, combine blended sweet tomatoes and lime juice. Set aside.
In one bowl, combine sugar and lime zest. Mix well until sugar becomes lightly colored and fragrant. Set aside.
In another bowl, combine and whisk together the flour, spices, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In another bowl, use your hand mixer to beat the eggs until just combined. Add vanilla and orange extracts. Beat eggs. Start from medium and gradually increase to high speed. Add sugar gradually. Beat for about 4-5 minutes or until mixture is light in color and forms ribbons when mixer attachment is lifted.
Add olive oil. Beat for another minute to combine.
Alternately add flour mixture and tomato mixture in three parts to the eggs, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down sides with spatula if necessary.
Pour the cake batter into prepared pans. Bake each cake for 45-50 minutes or just until the cake has turned a golden color and a cake tester comes out clean. Unmold and set cakes on the rack.
As the cakes are cooling, brush the tops and sides with the roasted tomato syrup.
Have some cake. Serve with basil sugar and some more of your sweet tomato slices.