So you can imagine how excited I was to be invited to help host a Farmer’s Market Supper Party with some of the Bay Area’s coolest food bloggers and cookbook authors (links to all ZeRecipes are at the end of this post).
Our mission: to showcase the season’s bounty with a creative vegetarian supper. Everyone was very understanding about my being a novice cook/baker who’s all hooves (and no opposable thumbs) and told me it would be fine if I made up a zebra-friendly dessert.
I figured I’d do what ZeGrandma and ZeMom always taught me: don’t go to a farmer’s market with your stripes totally set on making something in particular.
Instead, have fun wandering around and discovering the day’s freshly harvested treasures, then create a recipe based on what you find.
There were lots of fabulous fruits at the farmer’s market, but the ones that captivated me the most were heirloom tomatoes in a magical rainbow of colors—including zebra stripes!
Needless to say, I bought as many as I could carry.
About now, you may be wondering: um, ZeBot—you do realize you’re supposed to be making dessert, right?
Well, of COURSE! But remember: tomatoes are officially fruits.
If you’ve ever eaten a ripe, sun-warmed tomato fresh from the vine, you know how blissfully sweet they can be.
And if you look through a food science book (which I did), you’ll see that roasting foods helps intensify their natural sweetness.
If I roasted the tomatoes, I figured that would make them just right for dessert.
And when it comes to desserts, I’ve always thought cakes are perfect for parties–so how about a tomato one?
My little buddy Paul told me he made up a fresh tomato cake recipe with his kitchen-savvy grandmother Suzanne Beecher when he was only four years old–and that gave me the confidence that a zebra could do it, too!
I looked through the zillion cookbooks in my ZeNormous library, but I couldn’t find a recipe for a roasted tomato cake.
But one of my favorite references, The American Century Cookbook, told the intriguing story of a 1930s and 40s Mystery Cake, which turned out to be made using a can of Campbell’s tomato soup.
Hurray, I thought: here’s the beginning of an heirloom recipe that I could change up to work for heirloom tomatoes. And if I used ZeMom’s beloved old Bundt cake pan (which has built-in stripes), that would make my dessert even MORE special and heirloom-y.
By the way, I didn’t know what “heirloom” meant until I looked it up.
In fact, I was pronouncing it “HAIR-loom” (the wrong way) instead of “AIR-loom” (the right way).
Anyway, an heirloom is something special that’s passed from one generation to the next. So an heirloom recipe is one that cooks and bakers pass on to their kids, grandkids and other family members.
And heirloom tomatoes are grown from seeds that generations of farmers save and keep passing down, so people can enjoy those same kinds of tomatoes season after season.
I’m hoping my heirloom tomato cake will be something that generations of zebras and kids will have fun making and sharing with people they love (like you)!
But before you have dessert, please check out the rest of ZeFarmer’s Market Supper recipes from my super-talented friends!
For ZeVegetarian Supper Party (starting in the top righthand corner):
For ZeGluten-Free Supper Party (this group doesn’t include zebras, but ZeRecipes are awesome!)
Starting with ZeDessert (far left, then going clockwise from ZeTop):
Recipe: ZeBot’s Striped Heirloom Tomato Spice Cake
This happy red cake is moist, dense and spicy—and, no, you can’t really taste the tomatoes! If you’re a kid or a zebra, you’ll need the assistance of a grown-up to make your cake. And if you’re a grown-up, you’ll need a kid or zebra to provide entertaining commentary.
What You Need:
For ZeRoasted Tomatoes & Garnish:
About 1 lb. of heirloom cherry tomatoes (any kinds and colors)
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. pure maple syrup
1/2 cup of melted white chocolate (be sure the kind you use is made with real cocoa butter)
For ZeRest of the Cake:
1/2 cup of butter (this is the same as 1 stick)
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup of roasted tomato puree (which you’ve made using ingredients above — if that’s too much work, just use some canned organic tomato puree & add extra love)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. allspice
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup of golden raisins (optional)
Lots of love! (NOT optional)
What You Do:
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Mist a 9″ diameter Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Measure all your ingredients and have them ready to use.
Make the roasted tomato puree & tomato garnish:
1. Wash the tomatoes and cut each one in half.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, toss the tomatoes with canola oil and maple syrup. You can use either clean hands or clean hooves to do the tossing.
3. Put the tomatoes (cut side up) on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. If you don’t have either of those, just spray the sheet with nonstick cooking spray or brush it with a little canola oil.
4. Roast the tomatoes for about an hour (just until they get soft and shrivel up a bit).
5. Pick out about 10 of the prettiest tomatoes to use for a garnish.
6. Puree the rest of the roasted tomatoes in a food processor.
7. Measure out 1 cup of puree.
Make the cake:
1. Cream the butter and sugar together until they’re light and fluffy. You can do this using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (like I did) or a regular mixing bowl and handheld electric mixer. Either way, you’ll use a medium-high speed.
2. Add the eggs one at a time (scrape the sides of your mixing bowl after each one, then turn on the mixer until the eggs are totally blended with the butter and sugar).
3. Add the tomato puree and vanilla, then mix until everything is smooth and red and beautiful.
4. Sift the flour, spices, baking powder and baking soda into a separate bowl, then dump it carefully into the mixer bowl and mix at low speed until you have a velvety batter.
5. If you’re using extras like nuts and raisins, now’s the time to gently mix them into the batter. This is also a good time to add lots of love (just think happy thoughts and they’ll go right into your cake).
6. Pour the batter into your Bundt pan and bake for about 35 minutes.
Decorate the cake:
1. After your cake is cool, gently unmold it onto a serving plate.
2. Drizzle the cake with melted white chocolate (in stripes or any other design you like).
3. Arrange the pretty roasted tomatoes (the ones that didn’t go into the puree) on top of your cake.
4. Slice and eat with someone you love!