NOTE: I am a fan of 30-day challenges, and November is traditionally a time of two: National Novel Writing Month, and 30 Days of Thanks. As I am not a fiction writer, this year I have chosen to publish a daily blog for the entire month, expressing my gratitude. This may not be entirely food-focused, but expect recipes aplenty. Feel free to join me in the comments below. What are you thankful for today?
I have voted for president in three states in my lifetime: Maryland, Washington, and Georgia.
I vote in primaries.
I vote in mid-term elections.
I donate money on occasion to candidates.
Today, I am grateful that this shitshow of an election is over. #Gratitude
This blog is posting in the morning, so I don’t know how grateful I will be for the result of the election tomorrow, but if things proceed as they should, all campaigning and mudslinging and incivility will be over, at least until the next election.
(okay, that’s a bit naive, but allow me that indulgence for just this one moment)
Every presidential election since I can remember I have stayed up late, watching the election returns on TV. Even when I was a little kid we would huddle around the black and white TV, watching the percentages change. The first election I can actually remember is Jimmy Carter’s.
Ten days ago, in preparation for the ritual election returns watching, I baked an election cake. Election cakes date back to before the Revolutionary War when they were prepared for hundreds of people using nuts, dried fruit, wine, and whiskey.
Bakeries across the country are reviving the election cake tradition using the hashtag #MakeAmericaCakeAgain. When three people tagged me on an election cake post, I figured I would give it a shot.
Trouble is, I am no fan of yeast as it can be problematic in gluten-free baking, and traditional election cakes use yeast for their raising agent. Election cakes use yeast to create a live sponge, into which fruit, nuts, and additional flour are added.
In all other aspects, though, this shit is just a boozy fruitcake, which I happen to have on lock.
I made this cake ten days ago because it just gets better (and boozier) with age. It’s also very, very forgiving, so if you don’t have the particular dried fruits on hand you can make do with what you have. Just keep the total amount the same and you should be just fine.
Suzannah’s Modern-Day Election Cake
1 cup golden raisins (or regular)
1 cup currants
2 cups of any combination of the following: dried cherries, blueberries, cranberries, chopped apricots
Zest of one orange
Zest of one lemon
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
1 cup rum, bourbon, or brandy
1 cup sugar
10 tablespoons butter
1 cup apple cider
Teaspoon of each of the following: clove, ginger, cinnamon, allspice
1 1/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (regular works here, too)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
Brandy for basting (I used Laird’s Applejack because it’s what I had)
THE NIGHT BEFORE: Combine dried fruits, citrus zest, chopped ginger, and booze in a glass container. Mix thoroughly and place overnight in the ‘fridge. This can be in the ‘fridge for two (or more) days, so if you get distracted, no problem.
It’s also delicious straight off the spoon, but that can be dangerous.
When you are ready to bake, place dried fruit, sugar, apple cider, and spices in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring often, then turn heat down and simmer for ten minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Add to cooled fruit mixture and mix thoroughly. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well to incorporate each egg. Add chopped pecans.
Grease three disposable loaf pans (you are going to want to share these. Maybe). Divide batter evenly between the tins and bake for one hour. Test for doneness by inserting a paring knife. The knife should come out completely clean. If crumbs are sticking to the knife, bake for another five minutes and test again.
When the election (cake) is (finally) finished (over), remove from oven and baste liberally (yuk, yuk) with brandy. Cool completely in tin before turning out.
You are welcome at this point to try your cake. It will be spicy and fruity and nutty and delicious.
But this cake gets even better with age.
Wrap it tightly in plastic, store on the counter, and baste with brandy every couple days. In two weeks you will be eating a little slice of heaven, like we will be eating on election night.
I have heard that this cake last for a month or more. I may make it again on Thanksgiving and take it to Christmas to see how it goes. The booze and the sugar act as preservatives.
What are you grateful for today?