So, did you guys hear that there was an election? I thought so. Here in Iowa, that's about all we hear about for a good 15 months before the event.
We realized, as we finally started planning our most recent four meals, that Connecticut has a rather famous tradition on election day: Election Cake! Even before the Revolution, cakes were baked by colonial women to celebrate election days, which were major holidays. With this information, we decided to do our Connecticut meal on election day, it seemed a perfect fit.
Election Cakes were yeast leavened, and closely resembled English fruitcakes of the time. There are many recipes online, which include various combinations of currants, orange rinds, nutmeg, brandy and/or raisins. I combined the elements of several recipes I found, but relied heavily on an interpretation of one that comes from an 1833 edition of The Frugal American Housewife. I used only raisins and put the cake together as small rolls in a 9x14 pan, when it rises, the rolls come together to form a pull-apart cake.
Here's my version:
1/4 c warm water
1 package dry yeast
3/4 c warm whole milk
3 c flour
6 T butter, melted
1/2 c sugar
1 t fresh nutmeg (Connecticut is also The Nutmeg State)
1 t cinnamon
1 t salt
1 c raisins
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Blend the warm milk, butter, egg, salt spices and sugar in a large bowl then add the yeast and water mixture.
Add the flour mix well, it will be a stiff dough.
When the dough comes together, turn out onto a counter and knead until smooth. Gradually add the raisins as you knead. Add flour as necessary.
Form dough into 24 small rolls and arrange in a 9x14 cake pan. Let them rise in a warm place (it was chilly, so I put them on a heating pad set to warm). When the rolls have fully doubled, and are touching, they're ready to bake.
Bake at 375 until rolls are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool briefly on a rack, then gently invert and remove from pan. You can serve them warm or room temperature.
Along with our Election Cake we roasted a pork tenderloin on a bed of vegetables. This was pretty straightforward and seemed appropriate for a New England meal.
Since I spent the day making Election Cake, Marc took charge of this part. He roughly chopped onions, potatoes, carrots and celery and gave them a coating of salt, pepper, olive oil and fresh thyme. Then, he seared a pork tenderloin (about 2 lbs) on all sides over high heat.
After that, add the vegetables to the pan and put into a 375 degree oven for about a half hour to finish. While the pork rested after cooking, Marc made a simple pan sauce out of the drippings. Add a couple tablespoons of flour to the fat in the pan and cook over medium high heat. Add a shot of whiskey or brandy to deglaze the pan and then stir in 2 cups chicken stock until thickened. Season with mustard, salt, pepper and fresh thyme.
This meal was enjoyed by everyone. The kids avoided the sauce, but liked the pork. The vegetables were a bit too squishy for them, but it gave us an opportunity to explain that it is bad manners to declare food "disgusting" when someone has taken the time to prepare it. ahem.
The Election Cake was quite good--tender and reminiscent of cinnamon raisin bread, with the addition of nutmeg. The leftovers were good additions to breakfast and in the kids' lunches.
So, here's to democracy!
We got to draw our next four states: Massachusetts, Maine, Utah and Oregon!