Before we’re too far removed from our recent election, I’d like
to share a couple of author’s comments about Election Cake,
that uniquely-American celebratory treat.
First, the late food historian Karen Hess has this to say in her
introduction to the facsimile of the second edition of American
Cookery (by Amelia Simmons; Albany, NY; 1796):
A word on her famous ‘Election Cake,’ one
of many recipes which did not appear until
the Albany edition, so that it cannot be
identified specifically with Hartford, which
it often is. It is simply one of the ‘Great
Cakes’ of English culinary tradition, to be
made for festival occasions, huge loaves
of highly enriched yeasted bread, flavored
with sugar, spices, and lovely rosewater or
spirits of some kind, as well as raisins
or the like, recipes for which abounded
in cookbooks of the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries. Certainly in 1796,
Election Day would have been a major
festival, a cause for celebration.
Mary Tolford Wilson also makes note of these special cakes in her
opening essay to the facsimile of the first edition of Simmons’
American Cookery (published in Hartford, CT; 1796):
It [the second edition] was an extensively
revised and considerably augmented work.
There were new recipes such as ‘Election
Cake’ (beginning with thirty quarts of flour),
‘Independence Cake,’ and ‘Federal Pan Cake,’
recording by their names America’s awareness
of its new status as a nation.
And so, one final HUZZAH for Election Cake!