Vote for Cake: Hartford Election Cake – Connecticut

While driving through Connecticut, with its scenic towns and quaint villages, you can almost squint and go back in time to 1788 when this colony became a state. It may be one of the smallest states in the nation, but it’s rich in history, and Hartford Election Cake is part of

Hartford Election Cake

its lore. Back in colonial times, Election Day was almost like a holiday. Historians are not sure if this cake was baked in celebration of the right to vote, or just to feed weary travelers who traveled long distances to get to polling places. No matter, Democrats and Republicans alike can stand behind this very old recipe, based on a traditional fruitcake but lighter since it contains yeast. This cake is full of nuts, raisins and spices, including cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg — appropriate for the Nutmeg State. It rises twice for a total of two and a half hours, so allow a bit of time when you are preparing it. Great with a cuppa joe in the morning or with tea in the afternoon as a pick-me-up.

If you want to get your history fix, check out the Connecticut Historical Society Museum and Library in Hartford. And if you need voter info for the November 4th election, check out the handy voter information tool below the recipe.

Hartford Election Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Adapted from Rare Bits: Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes, by Patricia Bunning Stevens, www.ohioswallow.com, used with permission.

Ingredients

For cake:

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (divided in two parts: 1 1/2 cups, then 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup chopped raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs

For glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Instructions

Dissolve yeast in water. Stir in milk. Add 1 1/2 cups flour gradually, until mixture is smooth. Cover and let rise in warm place until very light and bubbly, 30 to 45 minutes.

Mix together 1 3/4 cups flour, salt and spices and set aside. Chop raisins, mix with nuts and set aside. Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. By hand, blend in yeast mixture. Gradually add dry ingredients, beating until smooth after each addition Add raisin-pecan mixture and mix well.

Grease and flour a 9-inch tube pan or large Bundt pan. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until dough almost reaches the top, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cake until golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then loosen cake from edges with a knife. Turn out onto a cake rack and cool completely.

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.

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