Four delicious desserts with surprising ingredients to step outside your baking comfort zone baking

Gavan Knox gets baking inspo from the Great Depression era!
September 6, 2023 2:32 p.m. EST
September 6, 2023 2:32 p.m. EST

Baking is all about being exact with ingredients, but that doesn't mean you can't have a little fun. Baking expert, Gavan Knox shares four unique desserts that are packed with surprising and unexpected ingredients to get you inspired to step outside the box. 

Tomato can cake

This cake is very similar to a carrot cake. The warm spices help hide the “tomatoey” taste, often making it unnoticeable to people. Not only does the tomato soup provide the wet base and subtle sweetness to the cake, but the acidity of the tomatoes also reacts with the baking soda to create the rising agent for the cake. Baking - doesn’t just taste good, it's educational too!

Potato candy

Adopted by the Irish immigrants of the Appalachian region, where potatoes were grown plentiful and made into this substitute candy, especially at Christmas time. As the candy became more Americanized the peanut butter layer was added, and it’s now a synonymous look for it.

Chocolate sauerkraut cake

Back in the 1940s, sauerkraut was used not only to replace coconut which was in short supply but also they give an appealing tang and moisture to the cake – similar to using sour cream in baking. The cake is topped with a decadent chocolate ganache.

Mock apple pie

The recipe itself has been in existence since the early 1800s when stale bread was used. Two things gave rise to this bake's popularity in the 1930s– the launch of Ritz crackers in 1934, and the sky-high prices of apples. The crackers were much more affordable than fresh fruit. The pie can be made with either crushed crackers – which give a more pureed filling version, or whole crackers which mimic the look and texture of sliced apples more closely.