Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Green 'mater Cake

I lost most of my tomato plants last August thanks to an ugly blight. I salvaged what I could of the green fruit to make chutney, which was surprisingly delicious with roast turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Still, I had more chopped green tomatoes than what I knew what to do with, so I tossed them in the freezer to use at a later date. I promptly forgot about them until last week, when I finally emptied out the rest of the freezer at our old house.

I still didn't know what to do with the frozen (and now slightly freezer burned) tomatoes, but of course I couldn't throw them away. When I found a bag of raisins that I'd also thrown into the freezer, inspiration struck in the form of this spice cake recipe that calls for both green tomatoes and raisins. How southern cooking is that? I'd made this recipe before and really liked how the cake tasted even better the second day, but it's not the most healthful cake with a cup of oil and a cup of nutmeats. Typically you can reduce the amount of oil in a recipe for baked goods by replacing about half of the oil with yogurt or applesauce, so I figured I could lighten the recipe up a little this way. I used a half cup of canola and a half cup of yogurt. I also added a half cup of regular (not instant) oatmeal and reduced the volume of nuts to a half cup of walnuts.

The result? My husband *loves* this cake. Even our two-year-old gobbles it up. It's reminiscent of an old fashioned busy day oatmeal cake or a fresh apple cake with raisins. It's a great snack cake with a moist interior and a slightly crunchy top, and it doesn't need any topping or frosting. Other than the small green bits from the tomato, you can't really tell what kind of fruit might be in it. I think you could probably swap out the chopped tomato with fresh apple or rhubarb if you liked, although you may want to reduce the amount of sugar if you use the sweeter apple. I'm sure you could substitute sweetened dried cranberries for the raisins if you liked, or maybe added a little ground ginger for a spicier flavor. If you do use frozen chopped green tomatoes for this recipe, I recommend that you let the thawed tomatoes drain for a little bit to remove the excess liquid before adding them to the batter.

I only wish I'd thought of making this for St. Patrick's Day last week. It would have been a perfect dessert with those green flecks and oatmeal in it!

Green Tomato Cake

1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1/2 cup rolled oatmeal (not instant)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (toast nuts lightly for stronger flavor)
1 cup raisins
2 1/2 cups diced green tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In mixing bowl, beat sugars, oil, eggs, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Combine the flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and spices in another bowl. Stir with fork to mix well. Slowly beat flour mixture into egg mixture until blended well. Sir in nuts,raisins, and tomatoes. Pour into greased 9X13 inch pan. Bake for 50 minutes, or until cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

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