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The Carthage Press
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POLITICS AND CAKE
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About this blog
By Linda Bassett
Author and culinary school teacher Linda Bassett provides recipes for and tips on the season's freshest ingredients. She is the author of \x34From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.\x34 Reach her by email at KitchenCall@aol. ...
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Kitchen Call
Author and culinary school teacher Linda Bassett provides recipes for and tips on the season's freshest ingredients. She is the author of \x34From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.\x34 Reach her by email at KitchenCall@aol.com.
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Nov. 3, 2012 12:01 a.m.

I have to admit that I miss half the content when I watch a political debate.  If I catch a grammatical error, on the part of a candidate or the moderator, I go off on a rant.  Then, I miss the point – and the next question.  I’m talking about regional races here, not presidential debates, where grammar and content are perfectly crafted by highly intelligent, exceptionally well-spoken candidates and their teams.

I don’t limit my rants to debates:  I critique the news.  I swear that some of the anchors and reporters skipped Comp I in college.  Their tenses don’t match.  Subjects and verbs don’t agree.  They use adjectives instead of adverbs.  On the local news channels, one in particular, I suspect one or two of these people may have napped through 5th grade grammar.

Sometimes, in addition to poor grammar, they mess up basic facts.  One anchor on the channel I just referenced, recently interviewed a US Senate candidate, quoting the date of the election as a week early.  The candidate, visibly taken aback, gracefully talked around her blunder.

Somehow, this brings to mind some research I did a few years ago an historic recipe, Election Cake, a staple during the earliest years of our democracy.  “Election week” was celebrated when country people left their farms to go to town in order to vote.  The towns were in a celebratory mood with fiddle music and bonfires at night and residents made some extra cash selling homemade root beer, molasses cookies, and this cake, basically a sweetened bread.  I can be found in early American cookbooks and must have been considered delicious 200 years ago.  Cook alert:  it needs to rise overnight and bakes up into a primitive lumpy loaf. Perhaps the antique recipes included a grammatical error.

ELECTION CAKE

Makes 2 loaves  I only make this every four years as it is too frustrating, but fun to have something from Jefferson’s time.

Do this by hand, the old-fashioned way, or use a stand mixer to mix the dough.  The results look beyond rustic, in fact downright primitive.  It is, after all, an historic cake.  Grammatically correct, but factually not pretty.



  • 1 pkg. (2-1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast


  • 3/4 cup warm milk


  • 1/3 cup butter


  • 1 cup sugar


  • 2 large eggs


  • 1/2 cup brandy


  • 4-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour


  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg


  • 1 cup raisins


  • 1 cup chopped walnuts




1.  Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk; set aside.  Generously butter two 9×5-inch loaf pans.  Flour a work surface.

2.  Cream together the butter and sugar in the work bowl of a food processor.  Gradually beat in the eggs and brandy.  Stir in the yeast mixture.

3.  Whisk together 4 cups flour, the cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Pulse after each addition to blend.  The dough will form a ball.

3. Place the dough on a flour surface.  Flour your hands.  Knead in the raisins and walnuts.  Add the other half cup flour, gradually, and only if needed.

4.  Divide the dough into two halves.  Place each one in a loaf pan.  Set aside, covered with a towel, to rise overnight.  Do not expect it to double in bulk.

5.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Transfer the loaves to the oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes.  The loaves will be deeply browned.  Tip them out of the pans and cool on a rack, for at least 30 minutes.

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