Although Dunkin’ Donuts probably supplied the vast majority of morning nourishment at many of the polling places around Philadelphia yesterday, way back in the day, it was the local women who baked for the festivities that transpired on Election Day. Since 1771, the Election Day Cake was baked to give strength to the people who had traveled into the polling town to cast their votes and to socialize. With no computers to quickly tabulate results, there was a lot of snacking done through the night as the votes were counted.
Election Day was a big deal then, and these cakes were made for the celebrations. The cake became known as the Hartford (Connecticut) Election Day Cake. Politicians there served it to men voting a straight party ticket. In a time when whiskey was the preferred method of vote buying, did this cake seal the deal?
Although every family had their version of the cake, some of the requisite spices included nutmeg, cinnamon, mace and cloves, along with nuts and brandy. The cake always contained raisins, and it resembled a classic English fruitcake. Yeast was the leavening agent then.
Northeast Times reader Betty Ann R. emailed me with the question: “Have you ever heard of or used spelt flour? I saw a recipe for chocolate chip cookies and it used that kind of flour. I was wondering where I could get it?”
Dear Betty Ann R.: Spelt flour is in the wheat family. It’s an ancient grain, cultivated for centuries in central Europe and the Middle East. It is somewhat like whole wheat flour. It contains gluten. Spelt flour is very nutritional with a bit fewer calories than whole wheat. Easily digestible, it is sometimes tolerated by people with wheat issues. Spelt flour is associated with German and Pennsylvania Dutch cooking/baking. The flour was favored by pretzel and bread makers. It has been rediscovered as a health food here, and it can be purchased in many health food stores, as well as at Wegman’s
Did you Rock the Vote yesterday? By now, the voting results should be tallied. Whether you’re celebrating a victory or licking the wounds of defeat, try a bite or two of the following cake. The old recipes for Election Day Cake seem to partner nicely with spelt flour. The following recipe is my version of the cake, using spelt flour with the addition of chocolate chips. It got the votes at my house.
ELECTION DAY SPELT CAKE
1 cup oil
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ cup whole grain spelt flour
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¾ tsp. salt
1/3 cup chopped raisins
¼ cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup dark chocolate morsels
-Preheat oven to 350.
-Grease a tube or bundt pan with Crisco. Set aside.
-In a large bowl, whisk eggs thoroughly. Add oil, milk and vanilla and mix well.
-On a large sheet of wax paper or in another bowl, thoroughly mix together the flours, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.
-Add the raisins, walnuts, chocolate chips and mix into dry ingredients.
-Fold the dry ingredients into the egg/oil/milk/vanilla mixture. Do not beat. Mix gently just until everything is combined.
-Pour batter into pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
If you like cinnamon, spelt flour combines to make this great-tasting breakfast or snack cake.
CINNAMON SPELT CAKE
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 cup whole grain spelt flour
1 Tbsp. milk
½ tsp. vanilla
½ cup ground almonds
½ cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
½ tsp. vanilla
-Preheat oven to 350.
-Cream together sugar until light and fluffy.
-Beat in eggs one at a time.
-Mix in the baking powder and cinnamon.
-Mix in the spelt flour and milk just enough to incorporate into mixture.
IN A SEPARATE BOWL:
-Make the topping: Mix together the ground almonds, brown sugar, egg, milk and vanilla. Spread mixture over the top of the uncooked cake.
-Bake 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.
Eat well, live long, enjoy!
(Questions or tips can be sent to Donna Zitter Bordelon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Northeast Times, 2512 Metropolitan Drive, Trevose, PA 19053)