Election Day Cake
Tips: This is a very old New England recipe;
similar cakes were being made in the 1800s. While Im
not sure I believe the legends that any votes were bought or sold
as a result of this cake, its tasty enough to be able to buy
a vote or tworich, but not too sweet, and very flavorful from
spices, citrus rind, brandy-soaked raisins, and, here, chocolate.
This isnt a cake as we know them today, but an earlier form
of the dessert, rather like a cross between a yeast-raised batter
bread and a pound cake.
Youll need a sturdy stand mixer for this cakeor
a strong arm, as the batter becomes too heavy for a handheld mixer.
Youll need to soak the raisins for at least 6 hours before
using them, so plan accordingly. I have included an optional glaze,
if you want to dress this up. The glaze gives more of a chocolate
impact, as youd expect, but this cake is not a long keeper
at room temperature, though it freezes decently. Without the glaze,
you can reheat the cake, but youll get less chocolate in your
dessert. Its your call.
- 1 cup yellow raisins OR currants
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 4-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, divided
- 2 pkgs. active dry yeast
- 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
- 1-1/3 cups milk, heated to 105 to 115 degrees F
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Grated zest 2 lemons (no white pith)
- Grated zest 2 oranges (no white pith)
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 eggs, graded large, at room temperature
- 1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 3/4 tsp. nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
- 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
- 5 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into bits
- 2-1/2 tsp. light corn syrup
- Few grains of salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla
At least 6 hours before you want to start baking, pick over the
raisins or currants, removing any stems, leaves, etc. If youre
using raisins, halve them (the easiest way to do this is with a
pair of kitchen shears); currants can be used whole, but if the
raisins are left whole theyll sink to the bottom of the cake.
Combine the raisins or currants and brandy in a shallow, wide-bottomed,
nonreactive container (I use a 1-quart porcelain souffle dish).
Cover airtight and allow to stand at room temperature.
Cut a circle of wax paper to fit the bottom of a 10 inch by 4 inch
tube pan (dont forget to cut a hole for the tube!). With solid
vegetable shortening, grease the bottom of the pan, then place the
wax paper circle in the pan bottom. Grease the wax paper and the
entire inside of the tube pan. Set aside. Adjust oven rack to center
To start baking, in large bowl of electric stand mixer, combine
1-1/2 cups flour (reserve remainder), dry yeast, and 1 Tbsp. sugar
(reserve remainder). With large whisk, mix well. All at once, add
warm milk; whisk until well-blended and most lumps are gone, about
2 minutes. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Cover bowl tightly
with plastic wrap; place in warm, draft-free spot for about 30 minutes.
While yeast mixture proofs, in large bowl, combine softened butter,
remaining 1 cup sugar, citrus zest, and vanilla. With large spoon,
cream thoroughly until well-mixed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating
each in thoroughly. Set aside. Into medium bowl, sift remaining
3 cups flour with cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Place miniature chocolate
chips in small bowl. Take about 1 Tbsp. (no need to measure) of
the sifted dry ingredients and place on top of chocolate chips;
with a small spoon, stir well until chips are coated with flour
mixture. Set aside.
When yeast mixture has stood for about thirty minutes, it should
be greatly increased in volume and bubbly. Attach paddle beater
to mixer (if available). At a low speed, stir down the yeast mixture
for a few seconds until it is greatly deflated. Add half of butter-citrus
zest mixture; beat at a low speed until incorporated. Repeat with
remaining butter-citrus zest mixture. Scrape down beater(s) and
bowl with rubber spatula; continue to do this frequently until end
of mixing process.
At low speed, add about half of sifted dry ingredients, mixing
in well. Add remaining dry ingredients and blend in; if mixer begins
to bog down, stir in remaining dry ingredients by hand. Increase
speed to medium-high and beat until batter is smooth, about 1 minute.
Batter will be very thick and stickyOK.
Add raisins or currants and any remaining brandy; with large spoon,
stir in until partly mixed. Add chocolate chips and any flour mixture
at the bottom of the bowl; stir in with spoon just until chips are
Spoon batter into prepared pan. Level top surface with rubber spatula.
Cover top of tube pan loosely with wax paper (my wax paper rests
on the tube pans feetOK). Allow to rise
in warm, draft-free spot until about doubled in volume, approximately
1-1/2 to 2 hours.
About 15 minutes before you want to bake this, preheat the oven
to 375 degrees F. Remove the wax paper covering from the top of
the pan before baking. Bake 33 to 43 minutes, turning pan back-to-front
once about halfway during baking time. While baking, the top will
become a rich golden brown; if it begins to overbrown, however,
cover the top of the pan loosely with aluminum foil. Small cracks
may develop in the top during baking, but dont always. The
cake will be about 3-1/2 inches tall when baked. To test, insert
a toothpick into the middle of the batter; if it emerges with only
a moist crumb or two still clinging to it, the cake is done. Note
that the sides of the cake will not pull away from the pan even
when the cake is done.
Remove to cooling rack. Working gently and carefully, loosen cake
from sides of pan (use something that wont scratch your pan).
Gently invert pan onto another cooling rack. Remove pan. If youre
going to glaze the cake, leave it upside down to cool; if youre
going to serve it without the glaze, re-invert to cool right side
up. Cool completely before glazing and/or serving.
For glaze, place all ingredients except vanilla in small heatproof
bowl. Set over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch
bottom of bowl); stir often until almost melted. Remove from heat
and hot water; stir until completely melted and smooth. (Alternatively,
combine all ingredients except vanilla in small microwaveable bowl.
Microwave at 50% (medium) power for short intervals, stirring thoroughly
between each, just until mixture is melted and smooth.) Stir in
Allow glaze to cool until it is at room temperature and slightly
thickened. Gently brush crumbs from side of cake and keep it on
cooling rack; set rack over a piece of wax paper. Slowly pour over
top of cake, paying particular attention to outer top edges. Quickly
spread glaze evenly over top; a small amount should drip down the
sides. Allow glaze to set, about 30 minutes, before serving or storing.
To serve, use a sharp, serrated knife, and cut the cake into slices
with a gentle sawing motion. Store airtight at room temperature
for up to a day or so; freeze for longer storage.
To reheat cake, remember that you cannot do this if the cake has
been glazed! Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350
degrees F. Cut thick slices of cake; stand slices upright in shallow,
foil-lined pan. Heat 5 to 10 minutes, or just until very warm. Serve
at once. If cake slices begin to brown too much, cover loosely with
Yields: 16 servings
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