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Why the Oldest Cake Recipe in America Is Trending on Election Day

Many people are searching for this colonial recipe right now.
fruit cake

Today is Election Day and with tensions running high, Americans are desperately seeking out sources of comfort. And what could be more comforting than a cake recipe? There's one vintage recipe that has especially gained traction on the internet over the past few days and it's aptly named election cake.

Technically known as Hartford Election Cake, the recipe first appeared in a 1796 cookbook by Amelia Simmons titled "American Cookery". Simmons' book is the first known cookbook written by an American in the United States, but some believe this cake may be even older, dating further back than the Declaration of Independence. (Related: 15 Classic American Desserts That Deserve a Comeback)

The inception of the election cake, as the New York Times reports, stems from the springtime elections for governor and other offices held in towns around Connecticut during the late 18th century. By May, representatives from various parts of the colony would gather in Hartford for the night-long ballot counting, and the cake would be served to them at some point during these events (the specifics vary and are unclear). The recipe for the cake and its story were first brought to the Times in 1988 and adapted from Marion Cunningham's book, "The Fannie Farmer Baking Book." (Related: Here's How You Can Score Free Food By Voting This Year.)

So, what exactly is the Hartford Election Cake made with? As far as texture and appearance go, it's a cross between a panettone, which is an Italian sweet bread, and a dense fruit cake. According to the New England Historical Society, some of the first election cakes were said to have clocked in at 12 pounds. The recipe calls for a yeasted dough made with creamy buttermilk, as well as warming spices such as cinnamon, cloves, mace, and nutmeg. Then, the cake is studded with raisins and chopped pecans.

The cake can either be enjoyed with a cocktail as you watch the election coverage this evening or in the morning with a piping hot cup of Joe. Much like the ballot counting process that occurred in the late 18th century, this year's count will likely extend beyond Election Day. Until the results are posted, why not have something sweet and satiating to dip your fork into?

For more content on old recipes that we want to make a comeback, be sure to check out 50 Vintage Recipes to Bring Back This Spring.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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