Election Day Cake

Election Day Cake

With tomorrow being Election Day I thought it might be fun to share with you a recipe for Election Day Cake.  No kidding, there really was such a thing–and there still is if you care to make it.

The custom of making a special cake for  Election Day has a long history.  Back in the early days of America, voters would have to travel great distances to cast their ballots, often to the state Capitol.   Since only the men were allowed to vote back then, the women of the hosting towns would serve cake to the visiting voters.  Election Day was a festive occasion calling for a special treat.   The Election Cake ( also called Hartford Election Cakes) is a yeast-raised fruitcake first reported as early as 1771 in New England, and then spreading in popularity across the country to the West throughout the nineteenth century. This cake is not heavy like a true fruitcake, but more cake-like with spices, whisky and colorful dried fruits, making this a delicious and patriotic treat.

The recipe takes a good bit of time to make having several steps to it, but the end result is a very impressive tall, tube cake.  Most of the syrup that the fruits were soaked in is used to brush on the cake as it cools adding some additional flavor and moisture.  A small amount of the soaking syrup is also used to make the glaze topping. With whisky as a preservative and containing a good quantity of dried fruits that have been soaked in the whisky, the cake is definitely a keeper,  I mean it keeps well.

ELECTION DAY CAKE

YIELD:   Makes one 10-inch tube cake or bundt cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

    Cranberries, blueberries, and golden raisins soaked in American Whisky.

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups dried fruit, such as cranberries, golden raisins, and blueberries ( red, white and blue)
  • 1/2 cup American whiskey
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 package (3/4 ounce) rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, sifted
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) soft unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar for glaze

PREPARATION

1.  Grease a 10-inch tube pan or spray with non-stick baking spray and lightly flour.

2.  Combine 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar with the water  in a small saucepan.  Simmer over med-high heat until sugar is completely dissolved.  Remove from heat.

3.  Place the dried fruit in a large bowl.  Add the sugar mixture and whiskey;  stir and set aside.

4.  In a measuring cup, combine the warm water and milk.

Add warm milk mixture to the yeast and whole wheat flour.

5.  Combine yeast with 1 cup of whole-wheat flour in a medium bowl.  Add the milk mixture and stir in.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup whole wheat flour on top.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup whole wheat flour over the top.

Set aside to allow the yeast to ferment until the  yeast breaks through the surface of the flour, approximately 30 minutes.  This is called a sponge.

“Sponge” is ready, when yeast breaks through top layer of flour.

6.  Sift together the remaining dry ingredients and set aside.

7.  Drain the fruit mixture; reserve the syrup for later use in the glaze.

8.  In a stand mixer, beat together the butter and the remaining 1 cup granulated sugar until light in texture.  Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula after each addition.

Beating in the eggs one at a time.

9.  Turn the mixer to low speed and add the sponge; mix until fully combined.

Beating in the sponge and  dry ingredients.

Add the remaining dry ingredients.  The batter will be stiff.  Stir in the drained fruit.

Stir in the drained dry fruits.

10. Place the batter in the pan, cover, and set in a warm place to allow the cake to rise, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.***  I gave my dough the full two hours and it doubled in size.

Batter in the tube pan before rising.

11. Meanwhile, make the glaze:  In a medium bowl, combine the 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 Tablespoons of the reserved syrup drained from the fruit.  Stir until smooth and set aside.

12.Bake cake in a 350 degree oven for 45 – 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

A nice, tall tube cake after baking.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.  When cool, lightly brush the cake all over with reserved syrup, and finally top with glaze, allowing the glaze to drip down the sides.

Brush cake all over with the fruit syrup.

Frost with glaze, allowing some to drip down the sides.

A tender cake, studded with bits of fruit, and lightly sweetened by the glaze.

***TIP:  To provide a uniform temperature for yeast doughs to rise, set the bowl of batter on a heating pad set at LOW temperature. The microwave oven provides a draft free place to raise yeast doughs.  Works beautifully!

Cover yeast batter, place in microwave oven on a heating pad set at LOW temperature.

SOURCE:    About.com,    courtesy of Culinary Institute of America

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Chewy Granola Bars

When September and back-to-school time rolls around I always think of these bars.  That’s because my children loved them and I always made them to have as after school snacks, or to pack in lunch boxes.  I still make them because Mr. D. likes them a lot and I like to have them around for a healthy snack.

These bars can be customized to your taste by the addition of your favorite fruits and nuts or chips.  They are a great way to use up small amounts of fruits, or chips left over from another recipe.  They also freeze well and pack well so you can have them available all the time.  They can easily go along on a hike, a car trip, or camping.  What I like to do is wrap each square individually in plastic wrap, place in a covered container in the freezer, and take out the desired number as needed.  Last weekend Mr. D, and his friend went fishing for the day, and took some of these bars along to munch on.  His friend called to thank me and tell me how much he liked them.

These bars smell wonderful as they are baking, and eating one leads to wanting  another one, so they don’t last long.  It’s good to make a double recipe if you want to have a quantity on hand;  some to eat, and some to freeze.

CHEWY GRANOLA BARS

YIELD:  about 1 dozen bars, cut 2″ x 4 1/2″

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cups oat flour  (or 1/3 cup quick oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2-3 cups mixed dried fruit and nuts (example: cranberries, apricots, dates, raisins, coconut, almonds, walnuts, chocolate chips)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey, maple syrup, or corn syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon water

DIRECTIONS

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 13″ x 9 ” pan.

2.  Stir together all the dry ingredients including fruits and nuts.

3.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, syrup or honey and water.

4.  Toss the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until the mixture is evenly crumbly.

5.  Spread in prepared pan to evenly cover the bottom and pat down gently.

6.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.  Remove from oven, loosen the edges and let cool for 5 minutes.

7.  Use a knife ( or bench knife) to cut bars while still warm.  Cool on rack.  Wrap individually to store or with parchment paper between the layers in an air tight container.  These bars freeze well.

SOURCE:   King Arthur Flour

Grab ‘N Go: Granola and Yogurt

Over the course of the last few years I’ve been moving away from buying ready made foods like cereals, soups, sauces, etc. and making more and more of these items myself.  My reasons are  threefold;  environmental:  less packaging to dispose of;  health:  I can eliminate all those unpronounceable ingredients, and have better control over what we are eating; and emotional:  I feel really good knowing I can make it as good or better than what’s in a package.  Granola is one of those packaged items that I have ceased buying and now make at home.

Granola is very versatile.  It can be added to foods, as in a crumbly topping on a fruit cobbler, put on foods to add crunch, like over fruits, or ice-cream, or eaten out-of-hand as a snack.  So with that said, I have been making homemade granola and  spreading it around  rather liberally.  My lunches consist, for the most part, of fruit smoothies, or yogurt with granola on top; and for my husband, I send him off to work with a nutritious salad for lunch, and a bag of granola for a mid-afternoon snack.  Each time I make it I vary the fruits and nuts I put in it, so it does not become boring.

For anyone who needs a quick “grab and go” breakfast, or who brings lunch to work, yogurt and granola is a delicious, good-for-you duo.  I like Greek style yogurt because it’s thicker than regular styles, and because it packs almost twice the protein, so you’re not as likely to get the mid-morning munchies.  You can also stretch your budget by purchasing the large size yogurt and putting it into smaller 8 0z. containers.  Likewise package your granola in baggies, so when you’re ready to leave the house, just grab one of each and  you will be on your way with a breakfast or lunch that is economical, delicious, and good for you.

Trail Mix Granola

Makes about 5 cups

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats


    Have all your ingredients ready before starting to assemble.

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups add-ins, like dried cranberries, cherries, apricots, figs, raisins; coconut, nuts such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts.

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  Whisk together oil, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a glass measuring cup.  Heat briefly in microwave ( 1 minute at 50% power) to blend  and melt any sugar lumps.  Stir well,  then pour over oats in a  large bowl and toss to coat.

3.  Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes.

4.   Let cool slightly, then transfer back into large bowl and stir in add-ins.  Let cool completely before packaging, or store in air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.

SOURCE:  Quick Vegetarian Pleasures