Have you ever heard of an Election Cake? Most people haven’t. Election cakes have a long history that goes back to the thirteen colonies, where they used to be a regular part of military and political life. Bakers Susannah Gebhart and Maia Surdam, proprietors of OWL Bakery in Asheville, NC, want people to know more about America’s culinary history and its connection to politics. Their campaign “Make America Cake Again” encourages bakers – home and professional – to make an election cake in a non-partisan nationwide project on food heritage. (#makeamericacakeagain)
Election Cake, originally known as Muster Cake, was made by colonial bakers and women of the town. They would bake a cake for the men who were practicing military musket firing and drilling known as mustering. The muster cakes were dense, loaded with dried fruit and often soaked in rum. After the American Revolution, muster cakes were renamed to election cakes and were baked to “muster” folks to attend the town meetings and vote for their candidate running for office. Election Day back in the thirteen colonies was revered almost as a holiday; naturally, cake was a big part of the holiday festivities as it is today. (Pictured at right: the first recorded recipe for election cake written in 1796 by Amelia Simmons in her second edition book American Cookery.)
To celebrate our upcoming election day, I made an Election Day Fruit Cake using American Heritage Historic Chocolate. It’s reminiscent of colonial muster cake and made with the most exquisite delicacy voted by mankind, CHOCOLATE!
Chocolate Election Day Fruit Cake
Preparation time: 2 hours
Equipment needed: Electric mixer, 12 qt. Bundt pan or 9 x12 cake pan, small mixing bowl, small sauce pan, air tight covered container
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried cranberries
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
3 cups flour
½ cup American Heritage Historic Chocolate Drink Mix
2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup walnuts
2 cups apple cider (or substitute with spiced rum)
1. Prepare fruit mixture: place cranberries and raisins in an air tight container. In a small sauce pan, heat 1 cup of apple cider to boiling and pour it over dried fruit and cover. Let sit for at least an hour. Give the container a good shake every so often to mix the cider with the dried fruit. This step is best done if prepared several hours if not the night before you make your Election Day cake. Apple cider can be replaced with 1 cup spiced rum.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour cake pan. In small mixing bowl, place apples and lightly cover them with the sugar, stirring often.
3. Melt American Heritage Historic Chocolate in a small sauce pan on stove or in small microwavable bowl for about 2 minutes. Stir and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, combine melted butter and sugar and beat with mixer until well blended. Add eggs and continue to mix until creamy.
5. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well. Pour the melted American Heritage Chocolate into the batter; continue to mix until chocolate is well blended into the cake batter The batter will be a little on the thicker side.
6. Stir in by hand apples, fruit mixture, and walnuts to cake batter.
7. Pour batter into greased and floured cake pan, smooth top of the batter with a spatula, and bake until a tooth pick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean (about 45 minutes).
8. While cake is cooling, in small sauce pan place 1 cup of apple cider or spiced rum and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until reduced in half. Evenly drizzle the apple cider or spiced rum over the top of the warm cake.
9. Let cake cool completely before slicing and serving.