Baking,  Colonial,  Culinary History,  Desserts,  Food History,  History

Election Cake – An American Tradition

One of my personal favorite old American traditions is the tradition of the election cake. Also known as Muster cakes, the tradition dates back to pre-Revolutinary War America. America was a founded as a Puritan country and the Puritans did not celebrate such holidays as Christmas. But they did celebrate the chance to govern themselves! Election days became a day to celebrate as families came from around the surrounding regions to the town center to vote, visit with friends and muster the militia or practice military maneuvers. Election cakes became a special way to celebrate the day and sustain the voters and townspeople throughout a day of celebrating.

Food historians trace the first election cake back to Hartford, Conneticut. The actual election cake comes from the traditional English plum cakes or spice cakes that were popular during this time. Often these were full of dried fruit, alcohol and spices, especially nutmeg. The cake had many different forms and could be anything from a traditional cake to a spicy, sweet yeast bread. Sometimes they were even made with sourdough.

My family and I have revived the tradition of making a election cake every time a major election comes around. It’s a good way to remember our forefathers and celebrate our freedom to vote. If you would like to try your hand at making an election cake, I suggest this excellent recipe! I also suggest switching out the raisins and currants for an equal amount of cranberries to give the cake a perfect American touch!

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