This post is a feature for our Kids Can Cook section by the Hatfields. This month, Katherine and her “mama,” Sarah, revisited a beloved children’s book and baked up their dairy-free version (with icing!) of The Seven Silly Eaters Cake.
One of our family’s favorite storybooks is The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman. It tells the tale of Mrs. Peters, her husband, and her seven picky-eater children.
Each child has a favorite dish that Mrs. Peters makes for them every day: warm milk, pink lemonade, homemade applesauce, lump-free oatmeal, homemade bread, and poached and fried eggs (cooked two different ways for the twins). One night, the children decide to make Mrs. Peters all of their favorite dishes for her birthday the next day. Of course, chaos ensues, and while they think they made a mess, they end up accidentally making a beautiful pink birthday cake out of all of their favorite foods mixed together.
We love this charmingly-illustrated rhyming story about a large family with particular tastes because, hey, we can relate. So when I found a recipe for Mrs. Peters’ Birthday Cake on Mary Ann Hoberman’s website, I knew we had to try it.
Katherine had great luck making the Seven Silly Eaters cake recipe as directed using dairy-free substitutions. The recipe makes a comforting oatmeal applesauce cake that we all enjoyed. However, it is not the “pink and plump and perfect” cake the kids were envisioning from the book’s illustrations. The food coloring didn’t show up at all in the baked cake, and there wasn’t any discernible lemon flavor.
To remedy this issue, Katherine and I decided to whip up a pink lemonade icing to drizzle on the cake. This Seven Silly Eaters cake pairs very well with lemon flavor, so it was a good solution. We also increased the amount of food coloring in the cake batter, but we still didn’t see much pink color, so the pink lemonade icing helps visually, too. If you want a cake that looks just like the cake in the book, a pink dairy-free angel food cake is probably your best bet. But if you want cake that features all of the Peters children’s favorite foods, then Hoberman’s recipe is a lot of fun and makes a tasty oatmeal applesauce cake to boot!
Children can help mix the ingredients and frost the cake. Older children and teens can make the entire recipe by themselves. We had fun rereading The Seven Silly Eaters while the cake baked. This also makes a great Mother’s Day or mom’s birthday cake recipe. It’s a good reminder for kids to cook something for mom once in awhile!
Special Diet Notes: The Seven Silly Eaters Cake
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, and vegetarian.
We haven’t tested it without eggs, because this is a rather egg-heavy recipe. A powdered egg replacer might work. If you try another egg replacement, I would also add 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, to help prevent dense results.
- ½ cup plain dairy-free milk beverage
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 8 ounces dairy-free margarine (we used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
- 1½ cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup quick oats
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cups unsweetened applesauce
- 8 drops natural red food coloring
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 2 to 3 tablespoons dairy-free milk beverage
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- 2 drops natural red food coloring
- Preheat your oven to 325ºF and grease a 10-inch tube pan.
- Warm the dairy-free milk to 70ºF in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and whisk in the lemon juice. Let sit for 10 minutes until the milk has thickened.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the dairy-free buttery spread and sugar with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the oats.
- Add the applesauce and red food coloring to the milk mixture and stir to combine.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture alternately with the milk/applesauce mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
- Pour the batter into your prepared tube pan.
- Set the pan on the middle oven rack and bake for 65 minutes, or until the cake pulls away from sides of pan and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
- Carefully remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely on the wire rack.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk beverage, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, and food coloring until smooth.
- If needed, add up to 1 tablespoon additional dairy-free milk beverage to get a pourable consistency.
- Use a spoon or fork to drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake letting it run down the sides.
Key Pantry Supplies: The Seven Silly Eaters Cake