Monday, November 05, 2012

Hartford Election Day Cake

Hey, who wants a cake from 1800? OK swell, I've got one.

This cake, isn't really a cake at all-it is a bread with great amounts of butter, candied fruit, and a sweet buttermilk frosting. It weighs a ton. I used the recipe in A World of Cakes, Casella, 1968. I have no idea how authentic it is, but it certainly is an adventure to make. I seem to remember making a stollen that required kneading in eggs and butter after the initial rise of the dough, but I guess I forgot what an utter mess it makes to do so. I'm afraid there is no good way to approach this other than resigning yourself to a good cleaning of the kitchen afterwards.

I have a hard time picturing colonial women using this much butter, milk, eggs and sugar (not to mention all the fruit) given that every other damn thing they baked was full of molasses and apples. Maybe they had more dough (sorry, couldn't resist) in Hartford to permit such extravagance.

You Will Need:

Yeast Dough:

1 cup diced, peeled raw potato
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 cake yeast (I used 2 1/4 teaspoons granulated dissolved in 1/4 cup of the warm potato water)
1 large egg
3-4 cups plain flour


3/4 cup very soft butter
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup brandy
1 cup raisins or sultanas
1 cup candied fruit
1 cup plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice

Cook the potato in water to cover until tender. Mash, and set aside. Pour scalded milk over butter in a large bowl and add sugar and salt. Stir until butter is melted. Meanwhile, proof the yeast if using granulated in 1/4 cup potato water. Then, stir into milk mixture. Add the mashed potato and then the egg. Add flour a cup at a time until you have a soft, but workable dough. Place in a buttered bowl, cover and let rise until doubled.

Punch down the dough and work in the butter in pieces. Add the eggs, brown sugar, and brandy. Coat the raisins and fruits with flour and add to the dough. Add remaining flour and mixed spice. Work very well so that dough is not streaky (it will be a mess, but stick with it (sorry, I just seem to be full of these tonight). Turn into a well-buttered 10 inch tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees F. for about 1 hour, or until cake is baked through inside. Cool in pan ten minutes, then finish cooling on a rack. When completely cool, frost with buttermilk frosting below.

Buttermilk Icing

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon bicarb
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 cup butter

Combine all, cook over medium heat in a medium saucepan until it reaches 230 degrees F. on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. With a hand mixer, beat until icing begins to thicken. Spread quickly on cake.

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