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A few weeks ago, my daughter came home super excited because they’d eaten cake during library time at school. She went on and on about how some little girl’s Babushka made the cake for her to help her overcome her fear of thunder. All the while thinking this was a friend from school, I listened intently as she told the rest of the story surrounding Thunder Cake. As it turns out, Thunder Cake is a book written by Patricia Polacco.
The synopsis of Thunder Cake: A long time ago a little girl was afraid of thunder. To help her overcome her fears. the little girl’s grandmother suggests they make Thunder Cake. The list of ingredients is long and the items are hard to come by, so the pair has to work through some obstacles together to have the cake in the oven before the storm arrives.
Here’s the official Thunder Cake recipe found in the book:
Cream together, one at a time:
1 cup shortening
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs, separated (Blend yolks in. Beat whites until they are stiff, then fold in.)
1 cup cold water
1/3 cup pureed tomatoes
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup dry cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Mix dry mixture into creamy mixture.
Bake in two greased and floured 8 1/2 inch round pans at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes.
Frost with chocolate butter frosting.
Top with strawberries.
Since we were looking at a rainy day and the kiddo was off of school for Spring Break, I thought that making Thunder Cake might be a fun activity to pass some time. First we went to the library to check out the book, and then set out to make this strange concoction. I have to admit I was slightly grossed out by the pureed tomatoes part. Why would someone want pureed tomatoes in cake?
Even worse, they didn’t have any pureed tomatoes at the store, so I had to buy peeled tomatoes and puree them myself in the Ninja. I figured, what’s the difference? I’m putting tomatoes in cake. It’s probably going to be pretty nasty either way. That wasn’t my only substitution. We don’t have round cake pans (I used a 9×13 rectangular baking dish instead) and I’m not sure what chocolate butter frosting is. We substituted with chocolate frosting in a tub.
Unlike the duo in the book, our Thunder Cake ingredients were pretty easy to find. We gathered them together and started following the directions. Have you ever baked a cake with a first grader? This was my first time…and quite an experience! Mostly it was a messy experience.
We first did the wet ingredients, and then the dry:
Then we mixed them together and got it all over the countertops.
Also, this may be a great time to note that I apparently am not capable of beating eggs to stiff peaks. Mine got frothy, but not stiff at all. Thankfully it didn’t seem to make a difference. I would love to have a picture to share, but after seeing what she could do with ingredients in a bowl, there was no way I was handing her my camera!
Since we don’t have round pans, we baked our Thunder Cake in a 9×13 baking dish.
More mess. BUT. She really was so happy. I couldn’t bear to take it away from her.
40 minutes later, we had a cake. Color me surprised when it actually rose in the oven! I let the kiddo frost it, because we all know that’s the best part!
Once it was frosted we added the strawberries.
I gave her the first piece (and some extra strawberries!)
Spoiler Alert: Thunder Cake was actually really good.
It was moist and tasty. And I can’t think of a better way to sneak some extra vegetables into a kid’s diet! I wouldn’t consider it to be a “healthy” recipe, but a slice of chocolate cake made with tomatoes is better for you than a slice of chocolate cake that isn’t! It’s all about perspective, people.
I can’t think of a better way to spend a rainy day than with a great book, a happy little girl, and some Thunder Cake.
Grab the book, make the cake, and enjoy your next thunderstorm!