When describing this fine city, I beam with pride about how far we’ve come over the past five to 10 years. Our arts community has exploded, the restaurant and coffee shop scene has diversified and Wichita pride has become a contagious feeling. City pride is so important. We’ve come a long way, and I think that’s worth celebrating.
Well, a celebration calls for a cake. Earlier this year local author Sondra Langel called to ask if I’d help her style food for the cookbook she was writing, called “Thursday Afternoon Cooking Club.” I quickly agreed and was grateful for the fun work with her and local photographer Larry Schwarm. I work as a food stylist for a handful of clients, but this was a more intimate experience of shooting beautiful food day-after-day while Sondra shared stories of the club members and I did the really tough work of sampling the food after our shoots.
Many recipes caught my eye during our shoot days, but the Wichita Cake really stood out as something worth talking about. Who knew we had a cake named after our great city? I sure didn’t, and it dates back to 1892, when Mrs. B.H. Campbell made it for the luncheon she hosted for the club. I truly enjoy a cookbook with stories, and this one not only has stories, it’s chock-full of Wichita history through the past 150 years. The cake is prepared in a bundt cake pan so it’s automatically a beautiful cake. The flavor is similar to a denser version of a spice cake with raisins, and it has a nice glaze on top.
This holiday season, why not share a bit of Wichita’s rich history and its delicious cake? It pairs beautifully with a hot latte or cup of tea. Enjoy this cake, fellow Wichitans.
1 cup seeded raisins or currants
½ cup butter
1½ cups sugar
1 cup water or milk
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
Pinch of black pepper
3 eggs, beaten separately
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 rounded teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 12-inch bundt pan or a 9x13 cake pan. In a medium sauce pan, combine raisins, sugar, water, butter and spices. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cool completely. Pour into a mixing bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda.
Whisk eggs into cooled spice mixture until uniformly combined. Add the flour mixture in batches, whisking well after each addition. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely.
Glaze: In a small bowl whisk together ¾ cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and ½ teaspoon vanilla. Drizzle over cooled cake.
Thursday Afternoon Cooking Club