Election Cake

Election Cake

Made from rich, spiced yeasted dough, election cake traces its history back to pre-Revolutionary Hartford, Conn. Marion Burros wrote about the cake in 1988, explaining how it was traditionally made in preparation for Election Day and filled with dried fruit soaked in brandy to ensure that it would last for a couple of days and improve in flavor over time. This version uses raisins and cranberries, but currants, dates, dried apricots, prunes or even dried pears all work great. Nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and clove infuse the cake with warmth and their scent wafts through the kitchen as the cake bakes. Brushing a coat of glaze onto the cake while it’s still warm softens the crust and soaks it with a lemony brightness.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 10 persons



  1. Step 1

    Generously butter a 10-inch bundt pan. Reserve 1 tablespoon flour and 2 tablespoons brown sugar.
  2. Step 2

    In a small pot, warm the milk over medium heat until just warm to the touch (110 degrees). (Or, microwave the milk for 30 to 45 seconds.) Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle in the yeast and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Zest the lemon over the mixture and add the eggs, nutmeg, salt and the remaining flour and brown sugar. Using a spatula, stir to form a shaggy dough.
  3. Step 3

    Fit the mixer with a dough hook and knead on low until a smooth dough forms, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add the butter all at once. Knead on low until the butter is incorporated and the dough is smooth, sticky and elastic, about 6 minutes. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 1 hour.
  4. Step 4

    While the dough is rising, toss together 2 tablespoons brandy with the raisins and cranberries in a small bowl. Cover and let sit until the raisins and cranberries are plump and rehydrated. Add the reserved flour and brown sugar, and the vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and clove. Stir to combine.
  5. Step 5

    Add the spiced fruit mixture to the dough. Using a spatula, fold the dough over the fruit repeatedly to incorporate it. Scrape the dough into the prepared bundt pan and even out the surface. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until the dough springs back when you make a depression in it, about 1 ½ hours. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Step 6

    Bake on a sheet pan until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or you get a hollow sound when the surface is tapped, about 40 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
  7. Step 7

    While the cake cools, juice the zested lemon. In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, a pinch of salt, the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of brandy and 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Whisk together to make a smooth glaze, adding more lemon juice if necessary to make a runny but opaque glaze.
  8. Step 8

    Carefully invert the cake onto a rack or large plate. Immediately brush a thin layer of glaze over the warm cake, and let the glaze set until the cake has cooled to almost room temperature. Pour the remaining glaze over the top. Cool completely, then slice and serve. Store any leftovers covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.