Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Amazing World of Patricia Polacco's Folk Tales

Something we have tried to encourage in Cava is a love for his home country and culture. One way that we have been doing this is through the wonderful books of Patricia Polacco. For those of you who don't know her, she is the author and illustrator of numerous children's books. Since she comes from Russian and Ukrainian background, the folk tales her Babushka used to tell her make up many of her books. The illustrations also show a Slavic influence.

Cava's favorites are:

1. Rechenka's Eggs. We read this one at Easter time right before we dyed our own eggs.

2. Oh, Look!. This one makes Cava laugh. It reminds me of Going On a Bear Hunt, which was always one of Benjamin's favorites. Here are a couple of pages from inside the book to show the beautiful illustrations Polacco does.

3. Thunder Cake. This was one we read in the hopes of helping Cava get over his fear of thunder and lighting. It's also inspired us to make our own thunder cake.

Here's a photo of a Thunder Cake:

Here's the recipe for anyone wanting to make one themselves:

Thunder Cake
1 cup Shortening (I used half shortening, half applesauce)
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs, separated
1 cup cold water
1/3 cup pureed tomatoes
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup dry cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and parchment two 8 inch cake pans.

In a separate bowl sift together the cake flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside

In your mixing bowl cream together the shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla and one egg yolk at a time until mixed in. Pour in the water and tomatoes and mix just until combined. Add the sifted ingredients a half cup at a time until completely mixed.

Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30-40 minutes until cake tests done.

Allow to completely cool.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting 16 oz semi sweet chocolate, chopped fine
16 oz heavy cream

Heat heavy cream in a bowl or measuring cup in the microwave. Be careful not to overheat it, or it will boil over.
Add chocolate to the bowl; let set for 3-4 minutes. Stir until mixture is smooth and creamy
Let cool to room temperature (approx 2 hours) then whip with a whisk or mixer until light and fluffy, approx 2-3 minutes.

Spread on cake in whatever design you choose. Slice strawberries in half and apply to sides of the cake.

For anyone who's adopted a Russian or Ukrainian child, I highly recommend getting some of Patricia Polacco's wonderful books to read to them. It's a great way to not only bond with your child but to share in their folk stories as well.

To go to her website, here's a link:


  1. Did you guys really make that cake in the photo?? It looks aaaamazing. More importantly, why wasn't I invited for a piece? J/k!!!

    You guys are doing such an amazing job of celebrating Cava's culture.

  2. Sadly, no, we didn't. But when we do, we'll have you guys over for some. Just don't hold your breath that it will turn out like the one in that photo.