Hatbox Cake

Sometime truth is more delicious to kids than fiction. This culinary creation and my recipe for Fried Apples 'n' Onions are tie-ins to a couple of my children's favorite stories. I hope you'll use them as the starting point for more bookish cooking adventures with your kids.

Dumb Mrs. Goose — the 1950s creation of Miriam Clark Potter — was always getting confused. In "The Hatbox Cake," she made a cake for a holiday fair, put it into a hatbox, and then accidentally threw the hatbox onto a shelf in her closet, mashing the cake into a sort of pudding "all swoozed together." Drying her goosey tears, she went ahead and served it with ice cream, and of course all her animal friends loved it.

"But where was the cake?... She had put the cake into her hatbox instead! Then she remembered something else. She had thrown the hatbox up on the shelf with a terrific wham... Perhaps the cake was all right. But how could it be — when it was such a soft cake and she had given it such a wham. She tried not to think about it." — The Hatbox Cake

Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 10 minutes


    1 cake of your choosing (homemade, from a mix, or store-bought)
    2 cups frosting (as above)
    Chopped nuts (optional)
    1 pt. ice cream


  1. Frost the cake and sprinkle with the nuts. Put the cake into an appropriate-sized plastic container (you may want to cut the cake into pieces to fit, or use 2 containers). Tape the lid on securely with packing or duct tape. Now let your kids throw it around and drop it until the cake and frosting are "swoozed together." Serve the "pudding" topped with ice cream.

What's Good for You
It's not the occasional piece of cake that overloads kids on sugar. It's more likely to be hidden sugars (like high-fructose corn syrup), found in everything from ketchup to granola bars, that can make kids' diets unhealthy.

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