Week of November 1, 2016

Rob Salvino


Have a slice of cake today and enjoy a bite of history. This week’s fresh baked good is Election Cake! Perhaps you heard the special feature about election cakes on NPR radio the other week. If you didn’t, here’s the low-down, the skinny, the scoop.

The bakers of OWL Bakery in Asheville, North Carolina came up with a project to help teach people about America's culinary and politic history. They began a non-partisan nationwide collaboration among bakeries and home bakers to bake historical Election Cakes. Election Day in early America was a holiday of significant importance, and communities celebrated that important day with Election Cakes. OWL Bakery is returning Election Cakes to our table because, as they put it, “With this project, we’re raising awareness about our national culinary heritage and the place of food in political and social life as well as raising funds for voting access and rights.”

Ever since we heard the NPR segment on Election Cakes we knew we were going to participate in this effort. We are baking the cake recipe that OWL Bakery researched and then shared for others to bake. Truth be told, tastes have changed as much as fashions have changed over the years. I’ve adjusted the spices and process a bit to make the result a little more palatable to modern tastes, but you may find it a bit dense and spicy. Baking powder hadn’t been invented until the late 1800s, so this cake is sourdough leavened, as all cakes were bake in the good ol’ days. I also went heavy on the frosting. I am pretty sure that’s historically acceptable—Americans have always liked their sugar.

Election Cake dates back to Colonial America and the young Republic. It is a spiced, naturally leavened fruit cake and was served at town hall meetings and early voting sites to encourage citizens to attend. They came to hold a significant place in the landscape of voting places in the early democracy. In this project, Election Cake represent a connection to our shared history through food as well as an opportunity to bring attention to the upcoming election and issues concerning voter rights and access. 


Biga style boule (Organic Montana white wheat)

 ‘Biga’ refers to a long fermentation method. Today’s dough started more than 36 hours ago with a mixture of flour, water, and a pinch of yeast. This method sweetens the dough and is thought to aid in digestibility.

Election Cake (Sonora wheat)

Powder up that wig, shine your brass buttons, and belly up to a serving of post-Colonial Election Cake. We’re trying to be true to the project by using Sonora wheat flour in this recipe—the first wheat flour grown in the Americas all the way back in the early 1500s.

Orange pistachio granola

It’s back! I know many of you have been waiting for this day.

 Star King Apple, Packham Pear (Collins Family Orchard)

Collins Family Orchards supplied us with delicious organic apricots, peaches, plums, and more throughout the summer. We will continue to buy fruit from them while their supplies last. In fact, we plan to offer some of this fruit for sale at great prices to you through the holidays. You’ll be able to order these and other items through our online holiday store which will go live soon. By the way, the Packham pear may need a day at room temp to ripen.