Election cake, mostly forgotten in modern politics and home kitchens, has deep roots in American history, dating all the way back to the original 13 colonies.
Originally believed to have been baked as a loaf in communal ovens, the confection was used to encourage civic participation. This modern take keeps the spiced fruit and brandy, which help to preserve flavor and moisture in the cake even after it sits out for a few days–but with sweet prunes and warm spice notes throughout, who can wait that long?
About Election Cake:
Marion Burros wrote about Election Cake for the New York Times, where she shared that many elected officials had never tried it and it was also known as Hartford Election Cake. The one thing history seems to agree on is that the proper recipe is a yeasted sweet cake dough (like panettone) with dried fruit included. The New England Historical Society shared more history of the cake, and says the first printed version of American election cake appears in 1796 in the first U.S. cookbook, Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery.
All in all, Election Cake is hearty treat that can be stored at room temperature, can last a few days, and was meant to fortify hunger voters before or after they performed their important civic duty: voting.
Making Election Cake:
Election cake is really a cross between a yeasted sweet bread and a cake. The great news is that a stand mixer makes quick work of the historic recipe – it will handle the kneading for you. While that’s happening, the dried fruit gets a quick, boozy soak. The original loaf pan is swapped for a Bundt pan, which makes for a prettier presentation and more surface for the flavorful glaze.View recipe