Monday, September 19, 2011

Eating: The Newest Spectator Sport

Have you ever had people intently watching you eat? It's a little disconcerting. Is there a smear of chocolate on my lip? Has my smile become obscured with chocolate frosting?

With rides on the midway and beautifully crafted quilts just steps away, you'd think people would have better things to do than watch a couple of home economists eat cake. But food judging is a spectator sport every year in the Domestic Arts Building at the Kansas State Fair.

I got to judge the C&H Chocolate Cake special contest at this year's Kansas State Fair, along with fellow judge Lois Schlichau. I try to keep my glances toward the crowd at a minimum. I'm not the best at keeping a poker face. (That's probably not the best quality for a judge.)

Wendy Rowe was one of the observers intently watching our every move. Her husband Jimmy was so nervous he didn't sit down the whole time. But the wait was worth it for Wendy, whose Dark Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling took home the second prize the special contest.

It was a tough choice, and Wendy's cake was definitely in contention for the top prize. Like the first-place winner, she had added some elements to her chocolate cake and filling to make it stand out in the crowd.

She says she's trying to build a cake business, so getting a nod from judges at the state fair is another building block toward her goal. Jimmy is her best PR guy. At his job at Siemens Wind Energy, he's helping her build a client base of customers.

Someday, Wendy would like to open a storefront bakery. For now, she bakes to relax after long days as an assistant manager at Sirloin Stockade in Hutchinson.

If you're looking for something special, try Wendy's cake. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Cake
2 cups C&H sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9-inch-round pans. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of electric mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Raspberry Filling
1 8-oz. whipped cream
1 8-oz. pkg. raspberry gelatin

Combine gelatin and whipped cream. Mix until evenly blended. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. raspberry extract
1 lb. C & H powdered sugar
1 tbsp. milk
3/4 cup dark cocoa

Cream together butter and shortening. Add vanilla and mix well. Slowly add powdered sugar and cocoa. Continue to blend all ingredients until well mixed. Add milk as needed until icing is smooth and creamy.

To assemble: Put one layer on the serving platter. Top with half the raspberry cream. Top with next cake layer and the rest of the raspberry cream. Top with third cake layer. Cover all with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. Pipe design and decorate with washed, well-drained raspberries, if desired.

Note: If I were making this cake, I wouldn't use the raspberry flavoring in the frosting.


  1. Thank you Kim!!! I just wanted to update you now that the fair is over that I won 6 ribbons, one being 1st place for a chiffon pumpkin pie and 3rd place for the Pillsbury pie bake off!!! All I can say is look out for next year!!! Thanks again!!!

  2. Congrats Wendy! I enjoyed meeting you and wish you the very best as you pursue your dreams to open a bakery.