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Kill the Cliche: Let’s Celebrate Election Day

With Thanksgiving approaching, bakers across the nation are mulling over whether to finish the big feast with pumpkin, apple or pecan desserts (or all three!). But there’s a more imminent event that calls for something sweet. Let’s celebrate Election Day with sugar, spice and everything nice.

Election Day Cake has a long history in this country. The tradition began in the 18th century when this fruitcake wannabe was served to out-of-town guests who flocked to town for elections. This was quite the social occasion, a multi-day affair with parades, singing and ceremonies. Every home opened its doors and served this New England staple, also known as Hartford Election Cake. The quality of one’s Election Day Cake could supposedly make or break an individual’s reputation as a hostess.

Original recipes called for raisins, spice, molasses, and yeast. The latter ingredient sparks comparisons to bread, and indeed, it was sometimes baked as a loaf. More often, however, Election Day Cake was prepared in a large tube pan, and the finished product could weigh as much as 10 pounds and feed dozens. Some versions called for the addition of brandy or sherry; it was a celebratory event, after all!

In honor of Election Day Cake and a great American tradition, you might consider whipping up this iconic concoction. But if you’re more inclined to prepare recipes that don’t call for 30 quarts of flour, why not make an updated version in the form of classic English fruitcake or plum cupcakes or your favorite fruit-studded, brandy-laced variation of muffin? And, of course, don’t forget to vote.