Today is the Feast of St. Catherine! That means it’s Catherine’s name day.
St. Catherine is the patron saint of philosophers, lawyers, librarians, archivists, potters, spinners, milliners, and unmarried women.
In England, St. Catherine’s Day was once celebrated with Cattern cakes, a sweet eggy bread flavored with caraway seeds.
Catherine, however, doesn’t care about English traditions, and she’s not too fond of caraway seeds. She just wants to know whether her godmother is going to make her a chocolate cake. Catherine loves chocolate cake.
Here’s her godmother’s recipe. Because St. Catherine’s Day falls during Advent, the recipe is vegan.
St. Catherine’s Day Chocolate Cake
1 1/4 cups flour (to make a gluten-free cake, use a 1:1 gluten-free baking flour)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (plus more for dusting the pan)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp distilled white or apple cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease an 8X8 square pan. Dust the pan wth cocoa powder.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Be sure that all the ingredients are blended together well.
In a second bowl, whisk together the the water, vanilla, oil, and vinegar.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and blend well. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides if necessary.
Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a rack. Frost when completely cool.
3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, melted in the microwave
1/3 cup warm non-dairy milk
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Beat together the melted chocolate, milk, coconut oil, and vanilla. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
St. Mark’s Day: Winged Lions and Roses: Catherine’s dad is named Mark, and her mother is Cecilia. That doesn’t come up in the books. But it’s part of the backstory that the author and illustrator know about their characters. And now you can know it, too.
The creation of Catherine’s family: Illustrator R.J. Hughes explains what it was like to create the characters in Catherine’s Pascha.
17 ways to use Catherine’s Pascha: These book activities will let your children extend the book, and their joy in celebrating Pascha.
Buy the Books!
These delightfully diverse books provide disability representation (Elizabeth, one of the main characters, is an ambulatory wheelchair user). They also give Orthodox Christian children the rare opportunity to see themselves in books, and children who are not Orthodox the chance to see cultural practices they may not be familiar with.
FINALIST IN THE 2015 USA BEST BOOK AWARDS
Catherine doesn’t like vegetables. She doesn’t like naps. She doesn’t like it when her mom combs her hair. She loves hot dogs, chocolate cake, and her best friend, Elizabeth. Most of all, she loves Pascha! Pascha, the Orthodox Christian Easter, is celebrated in the middle of the night, with processions and candles and bells and singing. And Catherine insists that she’s not a bit sleepy.
The Saint Nicholas Day Snow
Shoes or stockings? Horse or sleigh? Does St. Nicholas visit on December 6 or on Christmas Eve? Will a little girl’s prayer be answered? When Elizabeth has to stay at Catherine’s house, she’s worried about her grandmother, and worried that St. Nicholas won’t find her. The grownups, though, are worried about snow.