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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Election Cake Recipe + History

It's no secret to you, I'm sure. The past couple of months have been really rough in terms of politics. In all honesty, the last year has been tough when it comes to politics. If, like me, you have a desire to get the bad taste of this ugly election out of your mouth, I may have something to help you! Tonight, I bring you something that I think we can all agree on. We won't need to take a vote on this matter. 

Cake. Election Cake, to be exact. 



I recently read an article about a pair of bakers in Asheville, NC who had a desire to "Make America Cake Again" by bringing back a baking tradition that dates back to the 1700's.  Susannah Gebhart, the owner of OWL Bakery, and Maia Surdam want to encourage bakeries, cooking professionals, home bakers & everyone else to participate in a non-partisan project to increase awareness about our American culinary heritage & the place of food in our political & social lives. No matter where we stand politically, we all gotta eat, right? If there were ever an election cycle that could use something to remind us of the ways that we're all similar, it's this one! 

The recipe for Election Cake, as far as we can tell, was first published in a cookbook by Amelia Simmons in Hartford, Connecticut in 1796. This cake was probably made before that under the name "muster" cake, which would have been made for soldiers during the American Revolution to boost moral. However, like so many "American traditions", this cake wasn't born in America. It likely came over from England, where it was probably English plum cake. Thank you, British immigrants (and all immigrants, for that matter. I mean, I sure as heck wouldn't be here if it weren't for them)! 



After the American Revolution, this dense, boozy, naturally-leavened fruit cake became Election Cake. It was prepared, mostly by women, and was taken to town meetings & community celebrations in order to encourage eligible voters to do their civic duty.  These women, who couldn't vote, participated in the democratic process through these cakes. You have to remember, these people were excited about democracy. They were excited about their liberty! These cakes added to the festivities surrounding the democratic process & highlighted the importance of community for these early voters. Sounds pretty nice, right? 

Want to get some of that frivolity back? Want to celebrate your right to vote with your friends & family on Tuesday? Want a tasty, sweet treat to be happy about, even if the election doesn't go the way you want?  You can find the recipe to make your very own Election Cake here, though I recommend starting the process ASAP. Even though this cake is easy to put together, it does take some prep time! 

Rehydrating my fruit in enough liquor to fill a Founding Father. 

The yeast preferment before doubling. 


I drained the liquid off the rehydrated fruit to be used later. 
"It's a BUNDT!" 



I iced this bad boy with the glaze portion of this recipe, in case you're interested, but you could use whatever frosting or glaze you like.

Like everyone, I'm ready for this election to be over. I have cast my ballot & will be anxiously awaiting the results on Tuesday night. I have strong feelings about many issues discussed recently, but I have to be honest when I say that I long for something that will unify this country. I'm so tired of fighting, anger & division. We all have more in common that we have different, but why is that so hard to remember? Unfortunately, I may just have to eat my cake & take solace in the fact that most important things take time.

I encourage you to make this cake and if you can't, I hope you can find a bakery near you that is selling them. And if that doesn't work out, stop by your local bakery for a cupcake after voting on Tuesday. Because you really need to vote.

Now, I think you earned a bit of cake.

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