Election Day is Tuesday, November 5. 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 moist 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.
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In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast on the warm water; stir to dissolve. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1-1⁄2 cups of 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.
In a separate bowl, cream the margarine and 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Set aside. Sift the remaining 3 cups of flour with the salt, cinnamon, cloves, mace, and nutmeg.
When the yeast mixture is bubbly, add the eggs to the creamed margarine and sugar and beat well. Combine with the yeast mixture. Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, beating with a spoon after each addition. Beat until smooth. Stir in the raisins, currants, citron, and nuts.
Pour into a well-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 (190°C) for about 1 hour. Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn onto a rack to finish cooling.
While slightly warm, spread with confectioners’ sugar icing.
In a medium bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar with enough milk to make a glaze. Add the vanilla and salt and stir until smooth.