Saturday, February 6, 2016

Thunder Cake for St. Scholastica

February 10th is the feast day of St. Scholastica, foundress and sister of St. Benedict. This year her feast falls on Ash Wednesday so is a day of fasting. I had an idea for her feast day based on the story I shared last year about her association with thunder and lightning. This cake idea comes from a much loved children's picture book which has been a favorite of mine for years - Patricia Polacco's Thunder Cake.  In the story a little girl, afraid of an upcoming thunderstorm, is distracted by her grandmother as they find ingredients to bake a "thunder" cake. The book includes the recipe for a version you can do yourself.  I love the book for its story as well as the depictions of holy images (icons) in the home of the Russian grandmother - so lovely.

But since her feast this year falls on Ash Wednesday, Shrove Tuesday would be a great time to make this cake and "use up" the eggs and sugar and such, which would have been common in earlier days as preparation for Lent. So this is a way to both prepare for Lent and also to celebrate St. Scholastica the day before her feast. 

Thunder Cake


1 cup shortening
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs, separated 
1 cup cold water
1/3 cup pureed tomatoes
2  cups cake flour 
1/2 cup dry cocoa
11/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together one at a time the shortening, sugar, vanilla. Blend yolks in. Beat whites until they are stiff, then fold in. Blend in water and tomatoes. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  Mix dry mixture into creamy mixture. Bake in two greased and floured 8 1/2 inch pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Frost with chocolate butter frosting. Top with strawberries. 

Pin It


  1. Love this idea! Thank you! I am hosting an Young Marrieds group on Friday night and I am searching for ideas to celebrate St. Valentine's Day and the sacrament of marriage. There is a ton of stuff for kids and non-PG games online, but nothing close to what I am looking for. Do you have ideas for meals/drink/games? Thank you!

  2. As it is late, this probably won't help you for a party today, but I was looking for ideas just now that might fit the requirements for an adult Valentine's party celebrating marriage. I was wishing I had a copy of the Drinking with the Saints book as I am sure it must have a St. Valentine drink selection. I did find the St. Valentine cocktail - and any red or pink drink or one garnished with strawberry hearts would be festive.

    St. Valentine is a patron of beekeepers so any foods or drinks with honey would we good for this occasion (and the added connection that "honey" is a term of endearment for a loved one so great for Valentine's Day). I also think there are many elegant heart/love foods like heart shaped strawberries (for chocolate dipping) and this lovely cheesecake

    Just a few months ago we celebrated the canonization of Sts. Zelie and Louis Martin - the first married couple canonized together. They would be a great couple to focus on for a celebration of marriage. We have several ideas here on Catholic Cuisine for food ideas connected to the Martins if you search the archives.

    Games: Have you ever seen the conversation starter game which uses famous couples? - - It could be adapted to only use Biblical or saintly couples (and they don't have to be romantic couples - could be saintly friends or siblings): Adam & Eve, St. Joseph & Mary, Sts. Anne & Joachim, Sts. Benedict & Scholastica, Sts. Francis & Clare, Samson & Delilah, Sts. Zelie & Louis, Sts. Cunegunda & Henry, Elizabeth & Zechariah, Jacob and Rachel, Sts. Teresa & John of the Cross, etc.

    Another idea for a game is something along the lines of the Newlywed Game, since it is a young marrieds group. Instead of versions you would likely find, make one that is faith based. Questions that the couples would have to answer about the other spouse could include ones like:
    Who is his/her favorite saint?
    What is the name of the church your spouse was baptised in?
    How old was your spouse when he/she was confirmed?
    What shrine would your spouse most like to visit?

    Another idea would be to have each couple come up with a reasonable/doable idea for a date night. Then all those ideas go in a basket and each couple draws out a different suggestion (not their own) and then follow through with that in the coming weeks.

  3. Oooh... my birthday is february 10 and Saint Scholastica is my dear friend in heaven! I have even written a play for kids about her and her twin brother... I never knew about this book, Thanks!!!

  4. Ana, happy belated birthday! Wanted to clarify to make sure you know this particular book doesn't have any direct connection to St. Scholastica. I highlighted it because it is about a thunder storm (and has a fun recipe). So it reminded me of the story about St. Scholastica and St. Benedict in a thunderstorm.

  5. Thanks, Mary! Still it looks like a lovely book!

  6. In my comment above I mentioned "I was wishing I had a copy of the Drinking with the Saints book as I am sure it must have a St. Valentine drink selection." I did purchase the book over the summer and love it. Lots of great ideas. For St. Valentine it suggests a Valentine which includes banana liqueur, vodka, and cranberry juice as well as a Chocolate Valentine vodka, creme de cocoa, and cherry juice.