Yellow Tomato Cake
The drawn-out modulated purr of calling cicada fills the hot air. My ears track the undulating sound as the calming song moves from one tree to another, from my backyard to across the little slow moving creek just feet behind a worn wooden fence. Big green leaves tousle about otherwise stoic trees. The scent of freshly cut grass – a result of that saturday’s suburban ritual – dances about my nose as I use my fingers to prune a lanky basil plant.
It’s hard for me not to smile with leaf-filtered rays of hot sun landing on my shoulders, the warm breeze circling around me. I can’t help but smirk knowing I’m getting away with being unproductive.
I slide my feet from their thongs and step off the deck, landing in the soft cushion of a bright green patch of Saint Augustine. Blades of unkempt grass poke through between my toes. A friendly ladybug uses my pinky toe as a shortcut from one blade to the other. A wasp tries to do the same thing but my panic-induced flailing limbs scare the little critter off.
I should be doing something – I know that much – but what escapes my mind. Fastidiously constructed schedules and to-do lists mean nothing out here. Summertime has a delightful ability to make everything except the unbridled enjoyment of the outdoors disappear. I ignore the fleeting requests from my brain to get back inside to work.
Bored with my backyard, I trek down the little dirt path lining the little, slow moving creek that lies not too far behind that worn wooden fence. I find myself at a local farmer’s market, basket in hand, ready to eat up whatever treats I can find. Farmer’s ready their paring knives as I hop from one stand to the next, tasting slice after slice of fresh, delicious fruit. My tummy begins to ache. I’ve tasted too much. I take the cue and retreat but only after procuring a far-too-full basket of yellow, red and orange tomatoes.
Back home again and I find myself sitting around a table with family and friends. We dig into the bright, colorful tomato salad, sprinkled delicately with salt, pepper and a few herbs from the garden. I hurry through lunch, excited to dig into dessert.
“I’m ready for dessert!” I shout – my ability to control the volume of my voice flies out the door as excitement rushes in.
“Dessert?” Suddenly all eyes are on me as inquiring minds poke and prod, begging for a hint of what I have waiting for them. “You didn’t tell us to save room for dessert.”
Forks slide through the crumbly, moist cake. Its sweet and earthy flavor hides a subtle secret. Sweet, lightly-acidic yellow tomatoes give this cake a seductively complex flavor profile. Forks continue to dig in; my guests rattling off fruits and vegetables as they try and guess the flavor. Moments before the last of the small loaf cake is devoured, someone solves the riddle.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes come in all shapes (well mostly one shape), sizes and colors. While numerous attributes can affect flavor, different color tomatoes typically have different flavor profiles. Yellow tomatoes, while sweet and flavorful like a red tomato, are far less acidic and more mellow than the standard red. Orange is similar to yellow tomatoes though will contain a little more of the bold acidic tomato flavor. Some heirlooms and dark red tomatoes will be stronger and bolder than the typical red.
I’ve used yellow tomatoes in this recipe because of their mellow tomato flavor and sweetness. You can substitute any tomato you’d like – just remember different colors and varieties will affect flavor differently. I also suggest avoiding store-bought tomatoes. Homegrown or local farm grown tomatoes will always be far more flavorful than anything you find in the store. That will make a difference as the tomato in this cake is already quite subtle.
- 8 ounces all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5 ounces butter
- 5 ounces sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 cup pureed yellow tomatoes *(note on pureeing below)
- Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line the loaf pan with parchment paper. Butter and dust the pan with flour. Set aside.
- Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after adding each.
- Add the lemon zest and mix in well.
- Add the flour mixture and pureed tomatoes in three additions starting and edging with the flour mixture. Mix until the batter comes together.
- Pour the batter into the lined loaf pan. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
- Let cool completely before serving.
Pureeing Tomatoes: Peel the skin from tomatoes and remove all the seeds and juice from inside before pureeing.You will need about 3 to 5 tomatoes to make 1 cup pureed tomatoes.
To peel: Score the bottom of the tomato with a cross using a sharp knife. Place the tomatoes in boiling water for just a few seconds (until the skin around the cross begins to look a little wrinkly) then immediately place the tomatoes in a bowl of very cold, iced water. Once the tomatoes are cool you can peel back the skin from the scored cross.
To Puree: After peeling, be sure to remove all the seeds and juice from the inside of the tomato. Once that is done, place the flesh of the tomato in a blender or food processor and blend until pureed and smooth.
You can serve the cake on its own or with the following cinnamon honey glaze. The sweetness of the honey and spiciness of the cinnamon helps bring out the mellow flavor of the yellow tomatoes in the cake.
- 2 ounces butter
- 5 ounces brown sugar
- 2 ounces honey
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon water
- Add all the ingredients together in the pot. Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for just a few moments, stirring constantly.
- Remove from the heat and continue to stir until the butter is melted.
- Set aside and let cool a little before serving.