Cast your vote then eat cake? That’s a tradition to perpetuate!
Old World Levain (OWL) Bakery is supporting a resurgence of election cake baking this year. Their initiative “Make America Cake Again” is described as “a collaboration and celebration among bakeries, food professionals, home bakers, scholars, and educators across the country.” No need to pick a candidate, all cakes are a non-partisan expression of culinary heritage and the importance of food in political and social life. Given his own non-partisan opinions and love of a good cake, George Washington would have loved this idea!
“Make America Cake Again” invites personal and professional bakers to create Election Cakes. These cakes were baked during our colonial era and beyond to feed hungry voters at the polls. Think of it as a both hospitality and an incentive for voting. OWL Bakery has posted several recipes to try for home and commercial use, as well as a link to a gluten free option.
Thanks in part to Google Books, Google Newspapers, Internet Archive, and Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project, here’s an expanded list of election cake recipes to bake for your family and friends.
The earliest Election Cakes, which were called Hartford Election Cakes were recorded in several of our country’s earliest cookery books. Published in 1829, the American Frugal Housewife – Dedicated to Those who are Not Ashamed of Economy by Lydia Maria Francis Child describes and recommends the following recipe:
1889 proved to be a heyday year for Election Cakes, when Ellen Wadsworth Johnson published no less than 11 different recipes of this revered dessert in Hartford Election Cake and Other Receipts: Chiefly from Manuscript Sources. Also included in the book is a potato based yeast recipe, which praises Fleishman’s ready made yeast as a great alternative to purchasing rough yeast found at the local brewery.
American Cookery, published by the Boston Cooking School received a recipe query for Old Election Cake in 1915. Here’s what the experts at the school submitted:
Five years later American Cookery Magazine had changed it’s name to Better Food, and fielded another query for Election Cake in 1920.
Even the great depression couldn’t keep the patriotic Election Cake from making an appearance at the polls. This Betty Crocker Kitchen Clinic column was serialized in newspapers across the country, and provided women with inspiration and a straightforward instructions to an array of tasty meals. This recipe for Election Cake was printed on page three of the Ames Daily Tribune on Thursday, March 2, 1939, in Ames, Iowa. This Election Cake is made without baking powder and is served is a luscious chocolate fudge icing. This type of cake would inspire me to vote Betty Crocker for President!
Many of our Revolutionary War grievances were over trade and taxes, including disputes over the East India company monopoly on the sugar trade. Sugar was a huge export for New England merchants, which makes rum one of our most patriotic beverages. The Virgin Islands Daily News on Tuesday, November 5, 1974, printed this little gem of a recipe for Election Cake and paired it with Hot Buttered Rum. What a patriotic pairing! The recipe is printed in two sections of the newspaper, so here’s the link to the second section.
For fans of the Hamilton musical, an Election Cake may be the showpiece on your dinner table. I’m wondering if there was Election Cake at the polls for the Election of 1800 when John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Pinckney, Aaron Burr were running for President. The election hedged on a the electoral college vote of Alexander Hamilton! Talk about a political upset!
Please post your Election Cake creations and recommendations by clicking on the ‘Reply’ button on this blog, or on our genealogy Facebook page!
Let’s Meet For Cake!