Before I head to work for a long night of election coverage and as we brace for the results of one of the most historical presidential election cycles, I wanted to share with you a recipe from 1796!
Its called “Hartford Election Cake.” When people had to travel to vote in days long,long ago, women of the times would make huge cakes to give travelers when they arrived at the polls. This cake recipe, adapted from Kim O’Donnel’s A Mighty Appetite, is perfect for this rainy, chilly night. It’s hearty, has a terrific glaze and a great snack as people watch the results roll in.
2 packages active dry yeast
½ warm water
½ cup lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp.cinnamon
½ tsp. grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1/4 (generous) cup raisins
1 granny smith apple, peeled and finely chopped
½ cup chopped pecans
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla
3 T. milk
1. Dissolve yeast in water. Stir in milk. Add 1 ½ cups flour gradually, until mixture is smooth. Cover and let rise in warm place until very light and bubbly, 30-45 minutes.
2. Mix together 1 ¾ cups flour, salt and spices and set aside.
3. Mix together raisins, apples and nuts, set aside.
4. Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Blend in yeast mixture. Gradually add dry ingredients, beating until smooth after each addition Add raisin-pecan mixture and mix well.
5. Grease and flour a 9-inch tube pan or large Bundt pan. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
6. Cover and let rise in a warm place until dough almost reaches the top, 1 ½-2 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cake until golden brown, 35-40 minutes.
7. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then loosen cake from edges with a knife. Turn out onto a cake rack and cool completely.
8. For glaze: in a mixing bowl, whisk confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and milk, until desired spreading consistency. Glaze should cover top of cake and drizzle down the sides.
Voila! A guaranteed Election Night dessert/snack everyone will love.
Post-baking thoughts: The original recipe did not use granny smith apples, but since I didn’t have enough raisins, I chopped the apple up, threw it in the mix and it was perfect!
While preparing for E-Day, I was chatting with my mom about her evening plans and the various election night parties she was going to. She then decided to also make Election Cake but added her own twist: soak the raisins in a rum-cranberry juice mix. She let it soak for 2 hours, then pushed all the juice out of raisins so it wouldn’t soak the cake.