1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1 cup milk
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter an approximately 9- by 13-inch baking pan. In a large mixer or mixing bowl, thoroughly cream butter and sugar together. Add remaining ingredients except egg whites and mix until well combined. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff, then carefully fold into batter. Pour into prepared pan and bake 35 minutes. Let cool.

Figs and Pecans
1 1/2 cups Sangiovese (such as Texas Hills Vineyard’s)
6 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
zest of 1/2 medium orange
6 whole black peppercorns
1 whole clove
2 whole allspice berries
12 medium fresh figs, quartered
1 1/2 cups pecan halves (such as Rio Grande Organics’)

Bring first 6 ingredients to a simmer in 1/2 cup water. Add figs and pecans and simmer until figs are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove figs and pecans from liquid. Return to a boil and reduce to a thinnish syrup, 20 to 30 minutes.

To serve, cut one or more slices of cake for each guest and put them on dessert plates (at T’afia, the cake is cut into circles using a ring mold); the slices may be stacked for taller servings. Pour syrup over the figs and pecans and spoon them onto the cake.

Serves between 4 and 6.

This is one of several recipes featured in the July, 2006 Texas Monthly article “Peas Be With You”.