In the early days of voting, when there weren't many polling stations around, American Colonial women made cakes for the travelers, which came to be called Election Day cakes. Amelia Simmons first mentioned them in "American Cookery," a 1796 book, but they may have been a familiar recipe by the time she printed her instructions. The cakes are dense with dried fruit, something like an old-fashioned English wedding cake.
The Culinary Institute of America's chef-Instructor Alison McLoughlin asked her students to come up with a modern version. It features dried blueberries, cranberries, golden raisins, lots of whisky, both whole-wheat and all-purpose flours, gingerbread spices, and yeast. Perhaps start now for Election 2012.
Election Day cake
Makes 1 large cake
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups dried fruit (cranberries, golden raisins, blueberries)
1/2 cup American whisky
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
1 package (3/4 ounce) rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
Butter (for the pan)
All-purpose flour (for the pan)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar with the cold water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the dried fruit, sugar mixture, and whisky; set aside.
3. In a another bowl, combine the warm water and milk. Stir in the yeast and 1 cup of whole-wheat flour. Sprinkle the remaining whole-wheat flour on top. Set aside for 30 minutes or until the yeast breaks through the surface of the flour.
4. Butter an 8-inch tube pan and dust it with flour, tapping out the excess.
5. In a bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour, salt, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon; set aside.
6. Set a strainer over a bowl. Drain the fruit mixture; reserve the syrup for the glaze.
7. In an electric mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment, if you have one) beat the butter with the remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar until light. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition.
8. With the mixer set on low speed, beat the yeast mixture into the batter followed by the flour and spice mixture. The batter will be stiff.
9. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. With a large metal spoon, stir in the drained fruit. Transfer the batter to the pan. Set in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
10. Set the oven at 350 degrees.
11. For the glaze: In a medium bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar and 2 tablespoons of the syrup from the fruit. Stir until smooth; set aside.
12. Transfer the cake to the oven. Bake the cake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
13. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack. When cool, lightly brush with the reserved syrup. Top with the glaze. Culinary Institute of America
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