We’re reprising our Hartford Election Cake because no matter if you vote Democrat or Republican, this cake is a huge electoral win. This very old recipe dates back to colonial times, when the cake was
made to feed hungry militia during training days. After the Revolutionary War, 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.
For this election season, we were delighted to discover that Old World Levain Bakery in Asheville, NC created a Make American Cake Again! project with election cake as its centerpiece, to raise awareness about our culinary heritage. If you make this cake, be sure to use #electioncake and #MakeAmericaCakeAgain on social media.
Full of nuts, raisins and spices, including cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg (very appropriate for the Nutmeg State) this cake rises twice for a total of two and a half hours. We can’t think of a better dessert to serve as you watch the returns roll in.
Nathan Hale is Connecticut’s state hero. He was an American soldier and spy for the Continental Army. He was captured by the Brits and before he was hung he stated “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Check out the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry, built in 1776, with Hale-family furnishings and period antiques.
Hartford Election Cake
Adapted from Rare Bits: Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes, by Patricia Bunning Stevens, www.ohioswallow.com, used with permission.
For the cake:
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1½ cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
- 1/2 cup lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
- 3¼ cups all-purpose flour (divided in two parts: 1½ cups, then 1¾ cups)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup chopped raisins (soaked overnight in brandy or bourbon, optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
For the glaze:
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 tablespoons milk
Dissolve yeast in water. Stir in milk. Add 1½ 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 1¾ 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, 1½ 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.