Election Cake, a Forgotten Recipe, Rises Online


For a baking project that will keep you from Election Day doomscrolling, look to a centuries-old tradition: election cake. The cake, which has become more obscure in recent years, saw an increase in Google searches beginning on Sunday morning.

The recipe for Hartford election cake appeared in Amelia Simmons’s “American Cookery,” published in 1796 — the first known cookbook written by an American in the United States — though there are mentions of the recipe predating the Declaration of Independence. The story of the cake goes as follows: In early spring, elections for governor and other offices were held in towns around Connecticut, and in May, representatives from around the colony gathered for the ballot counting in Hartford, an event that often ran long into the night.

It seems fitting, then, during the 2020 presidential race, when a final vote count by the end of the night seems highly unlikely, to revive the tradition of the election cake.


The reporter Marian Burros brought the story and recipe to The Times in 1988, adapting the cake from “The Fannie Farmer Baking Book” by Marion Cunningham. The recipe starts with a yeasted dough, studded with raisins and pecans, and spiced with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and mace. The finished texture falls somewhere between a panettone and a dense fruit cake. (The earliest election cakes are said to have weighed as much as 12 pounds, according to the New England Historical Society.)

This cake is also designed to keep well, a strong selling point for this particular election. It’ll serve you from Tuesday evening (with a stiff cocktail) through to Wednesday morning (with a coffee), and you can snack on it for the rest of the week.

Recipe: Election Cake

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