Category Archives: Dessert

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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Ooey, Gooey, From St. Louie: Gooey Butter Cake – Missouri

Definitely a mistake. A mistake turned delicious anyway. Gooey Butter Cake is to St. Louis as deep dish pizza is to Chicago. According to the New York Times, fork-lore has it that in the 1930s,

Gooey Butter Cake - Missouri

a St. Louis baker added too much shortening, butter or sugar while making a cake. Not wanting to waste the ingredients this being the middle of the Depression, the baker tried to sell the cake anyhow. Customers loved it and Gooey Butter Cake was born.

Continue reading Ooey, Gooey, From St. Louie: Gooey Butter Cake – Missouri

Huckleberry Hounds – Montana

Northwest Montana is home to the edible purple orb known as the huckleberry. A close cousin to the blueberry, this delectable fruit grows best between elevations of 3,500 and 7,000 feet, in forests with about 50 percent tree cover. Wild huckleberries are so treasured in the state that in 2007, Montana passed legislation that made it a misdemeanor to label a product “huckleberry” if it contains any other fruit.

Huckleberry Tea Cake

The huckleberry has never been successfully grown commercially so if you want a taste of these sweet jewels, you’ll have to get thee out to Montana and get to picking. The North Fork and Big Mountain Continue reading Huckleberry Hounds – Montana

Kookoo For Kuchen – South Dakota

South Dakota’s official state dessert is kuchen. Sprichst du auch Deutsch? If you do speak German, you know that “kuchen” means cake. Germans make up the largest ancestry group in the state and they brought their formidable Teutonic culinary skill with them from the old country. You can find literally dozens of variations of this

Peach and Blueberry Kuchen - South Dakota

recipe. Some use yeast for the crust, but we’ve gone with more of a pastry crust. Folks also like to disagree about which fruit is best for kuchen — plum, apple, strawberry, cherry and rhubarb are all good bets. We went with peach as they are in season right now, and added a bit of blueberry preserves for color contrast. We finished our kuchen off with a cream filling topped with streusel. Have a slice for dessert (or even breakfast!) with a cup of coffee or tea.

Continue reading Kookoo For Kuchen – South Dakota

We Were Told There Would be Cake: Smith Island Cake – Maryland

When we think of Maryland, we think of water. From the stunning Eastern Shore beaches, to Baltimore Harbor, to capital of Annapolis (hello, Navy), the ocean plays a major role in the culture and pleasure of residents. With good reason too; the Chesapeake Bay nearly bisects the state and most of the waterways in the state are part of the bay watershed.

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Smack in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay sits Smith Island, accessible only by ferry. This small community of only a few villages boasts big about its most famous export, Smith Island Cake. This scrumptious confection consists of eight to 10 ultra-thin layers of yellow cake with chocolate fudge frosting between each and was declared the state dessert of Maryland in 2008.

Continue reading We Were Told There Would be Cake: Smith Island Cake – Maryland

Tart Cherries are so Very – Michigan

Yes, we will admit, we are smitten with the mitten – the state of Michigan, that is (look at a map of the state if you don’t get the mitten reference). The whole state is crazy for cherries, but tart cherries are a whole ‘nother story. Michigan is the top producer of tart cherries in the country, with 217 million pounds produced in 2013 according to the USDA.

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Besides being delish, tart cherries are good for you. Studies link tart cherries with soothing inflammation and arthritis symptoms, easing muscle pain after a workout and enhancing sleep, according to the Cherry Marketing Institute. Continue reading Tart Cherries are so Very – Michigan

Give Mama Some Sugar … Sugar Cream Pie – Indiana

Indiana is pie country and Hoosiers are serious about their pastry. In 2009, the Indiana legislature declared sugar cream pie — also called Hoosier pie — as the official state pie of Indiana. Pies of this type, also known as desperation pies, were created when folks had to make do with whatever ingredients they had on hand. This delicious Sugar Cream Piecustardy concoction of very unpretentious ingredients probably dates back to the 1850s and might have the Amish or Quakers to thank. Both groups historically have had strong representation in the state. Even today, Indiana has the world’s third largest population for Amish. Lots of variations of this pie exist, but we liked this recipe as the filling stays firm and tends not to weep. Yup, sometimes simple is best.

Continue reading Give Mama Some Sugar … Sugar Cream Pie – Indiana

A Race Day Favorite – Kentucky

Time to bust out your fancy hats, snappy suits and dresses, it’s Kentucky Derby season! Folks in Louisville (say it right, “Lew-a-vul”) have some menu favorites that will be part of the festivities – among them, mint juleps, Hot Browns (hot turkey club sandwiches with Mornay sauce), rolled oysters, and those little fancy cucumber sandwiches that are cut oh-so elegantly. The sweet finale often is a chocolate chip pecan pie flavored with a bit of Kentucky bourbon.

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Continue reading A Race Day Favorite – Kentucky