Spring has finally settled into Georgia and with it comes spring showers. The ominous clouds roll in and as we watch the change in weather for possible tornadoes, I see my kids get nervous. I don’t blame them; the violent crash of thunder, the strong winds that bring the rain, the angry flashes of lightning can be overwhelming and scary.
Thankfully, there is a book for that. Thundercake by Patricia Polacco is the story of one little girl’s apprehension to an incoming storm, and the sweet solution from her grandmother. It’s a beautiful tale of overcoming fears, courage, and the precious relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter.
The illustrations are rich; I loved how the words and pictures matched each other perfectly. So when the granddaughter was nervous, the art helped the reader feel the nerves.
As the title says, cake is involved, so when the first hint of storm clouds appeared last week, my kids and I grabbed Thundercake and set off to make cake (There is a recipe in the back of the book, but we didn’t have all the ingredients for that one).
When cake is involved, somehow, thunderstorms aren’t quite as intimidating. What a sweet way to make the Thundercake book come alive. But even more important, what a fun way to talk about having courage.
Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook has never steered me wrong, so I used the chocolate cake recipe from that cookbook:
3/4 cup butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups milk
Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease bottoms of two 8x8x2-inch square or 9×1-1/2-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment or waxed paper. Grease and lightly flour bottoms and sides of pans. Or, grease one 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Set pan(s) aside. In a medium bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder; and salt; set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium speed until well combined (3 to 4 minutes). Scrape sides of bowl; continue beating on medium speed for 2 minutes more. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition (about 1 minute total). Beat in vanilla.
Alternately add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, beating on low speed just until combined after each addition. Beat on medium to high speed for 20 seconds more. Spread batter into the prepared pan(s).
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes for 8-inch pans and 13x9x2-inch pan, 30 to 35 minutes for 9-inch pans, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cake layers from pans. Peel off paper. Cool thoroughly on racks. Or, place 13x9x2-inch cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly. Frost with desired frosting.
Makes 12 to 16 servings.
For the Chocolate Ganache, we used a recipe similar to this recipe and poured it over the top of the cake.