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Election Cake: An American tradition

Election Cake has been served on Election Day since the early 1880s. This hearty fruit cake was traditionally baked to serve farmers who had left their fields for a few days to journey into town and vote.

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Election Cake

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Staff editor

Kendra Nordin is a staff editor and writer for the weekly print edition of the Monitor. She also produces Stir It Up!, a recipe blog for

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From “The American Heritage Cookbook”

Step 1
1 medium-size potato

1 cup milk

1-1/2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons shortening

1/2 package active dry yeast

1 egg, well beaten

3-1/2 to 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon butter, melted

Cook potato in boiling water until tender. Drain, peel, and work through a sieve or ricer, then set aside. Scald milk. Pour into a large bowl and stir in salt, sugar, shortening, and potato. When lukewarm, stir in yeast until dissolved. Add egg, then flour, a little at a time, to make a soft but still manageable dough. Turn out on a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, brush with a little melted butter, cover with a tea towel, and put in a warm spot to rise. Let rise until a little more than double in size.

[Tip: Set your oven to "Warm" while you are mixing the dough. Then, turn the oven off and set your tea-towel covered bowl into the oven as a warm place to help your dough rise.]

Step 2
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter

1 egg

1-1/4 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup sherry [I used cooking sherry]

1 cup seedless raisins, chopped [I add some dried cranberries so I threw those in, too]

1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground mace

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

When yeast dough has risen sufficiently push down the dough with your fix and work in butter thoroughly (I used a mixer with dough beaters). Toss the raisins with 2 tablespoons of the flour. Then using your hand as the mixer, stir in the egg, sugar, raisins, and remaining flour sifted with the spices and salt. Pour into a large greased Turk’s-head or gugelhupf mold or 10-inch tube pan, filling pan only two-thirds full. Cover with a tea towel and let rise about 1 to 1-1/2 hours in a warm place. Bake in a preheated 325 degree F. oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Cool about 10 minutes, then turn out of the pan, and cool completely before frosting.

Milk frosting

1-1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugar, milk, and butter in a saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to boil. Then boil, without stirring, until a few drops tested in cold water form a soft ball. Remove from the heat, stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and beat until frosting is of a spreading consistency. Spread over top of cake, letting it dribble down the sides. If frosting becomes too stiff to spread, melt in top of double boiler over boiling water, then beat again. 

Related post on Kitchen Report: Revolutionary gingerbread cupcakes

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