Election Day Cake


Vote for Cake!

The Editors
Makes 12 to 16 servings.
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Back in colonial times, Election Day Cakes were a popular tradition. Week-long celebrations often accompanied certifying the election results. Many folks traveled long distances in order to vote.

Unlike today, Election Day was treated as a party with people gathering from all over. The food and booze flowed. Indeed, election cakes were a boozy affair with lots of alcohol-soaked fruits and spices.

Over time, Election Day Cakes became more of a spice cake. This recipe was printed in The 2009 Old Farmer’s Almanac. It’s adapted from Lydia Maria Child’s recipe for Election Cake, which appears in the 1833 edition of The American Frugal Housewife, published in Boston. We have reduced Mrs. Child’s recipe and added a little spice, which was, and is, typical in election cake.

Vote for cake!

Find more about Election Day wit and wisdom.

2 packages active dry yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons each)
1-1/2 cups lukewarm water (105° to 115°F)
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
4 cups sifted flour, divided
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) margarine or butter
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs
2/3 cup raisins
2/3 cup currants
1/4 cup chopped candied citron
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  1. In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast into the warm water; stir to dissolve. Add 2 teaspoons sugar and 1-1⁄2 cups flour and beat well by hand or for 2 minutes with an electric mixer at medium speed. Cover and let rise in a warm place until bubbly, about 30 minutes.
  2. Cream margarine and 1 cup sugar in a separate bowl until light and fluffy. Set aside. In another bowl, sift remaining flour with salt, cinnamon, cloves, mace, and nutmeg.
  3. When yeast mixture is bubbly, add eggs to the margarine and sugar and beat well. Combine with yeast mixture. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, beating with a spoon after each addition. Beat until smooth. Stir in raisins, currants, citron, and nuts.
  4. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1⁄2 hours. Bake at 375°F for about 1 hour. Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to finish cooling. 
  5. While slightly warm, spread with confectioners’ sugar icing.

Confectioners' Sugar Icing

1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
milk or cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of salt
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar with enough milk to make a glaze. 
  2. Add the vanilla and salt and stir until smooth.
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