While most of America takes a year off from politics (just kidding), my quaint hamlet of Saratoga Springs, NY is winding up a particularly divisive election season. Till next Tuesday I’ll be out canvassing for the side I support, but in a happier time I’d invite my neighbors to sit on the porch and share a slice of Election Cake.
In the early years of our Republic, Election Cake was a way to celebrate democracy and the freedom to vote. You might get a slice as a thank you for participating, or just to commemorate a festive occasion. This was long before the invention of saleratus and other chemical rising agents, so the cake was sourdough. It’s hearty and not overly sweet and with a flacon of rum would probably constitute a complete meal.
Last year, a number of professional bakers resuscitated the recipe in an effort to “Make America Cake Again”. I learned about it from Richard Miscovich at the Maine Grains Conference when he was still tinkering with the recipe and not yet ready to share it. The final, which appeared in the weeks leading up to the election, was from Susan Gebhart of OWL Bakery in North Carolina. I made a few tweaks to the recipe, and you should be confident in adding your own.
The complete recipe is here. Please note that, even if you use yeast as a substitute for sourdough, it’s still a two-day affair. So let’s get baking! (I will too. Writing this post has put me in a better mood and helped me rearrange my priorities.)