This sourdough election cake is an easy cake recipe that uses your sourdough starter. This traditional cake from American history is made with dried fruit, spices, buttermilk, brandy and molasses for a truly flavorufl cake!
The other day I stumbled across this really fun historical recipe for a sourdough cake called an “Election cake”. The cake happened to be a recipe for a traditional cake served in the early America’s during election time. And guess what, it features sourdough starter! I knew immediately that I was going to make this cake.
When America was a young country and it was time to vote, families would gather together in towns to cast their ballots. Because some families would be coming from a long way off, and would usually spend quite a few days in town, this was often a time for large celebrations and parties, balls, visiting friends, and other fun activities! The government would often commission these election cakes to be baked and served at the festivities! The cakes were large – big enough to feed the whole community! In one of the first recorded recipes for this cake, Amelia Simmons writes that you need three dozen eggs, a quart of brandy, and fourteen pounds of sugar. Now that’s a cake!!
As time went on, slices of this cake were provided as an incentive to vote!
This cake, and others like it began to fall out of favor when cakes with baking powder (which are quicker and easier to bake) became popular!
How to make a sourdough election cake
This cake, while it has a long list of ingredients, is rather simple to make, but like most sourdough recipes requires a time commitment. Here is the general method to make this cake, but please scroll down to the recipe card below for the full directions:
- Combine the flour, buttermilk and sourdough starter into a thick dough that you can form into a ball. Allow to rest, covered, for 8-12 hours.
- In a medium bowl, beat the butter, sugar, molasses, wine, and brandy together until its combined and fluffy.
- Stir in two eggs and the spices.
- Add the prepared dough from before to the spice mixture and combine.
- Stir in the dried fruit.
- Pour into a prepared bundt pan.
- Cover and allow to sit at room temperature until its doubled in size, about 1.5 to 2 hours.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour.
The cake turned out to be fun to make. The spices in here are great – cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander and allspice – and make for a really nice “warm” cake. I love how this cake turned out – soft and fluffy, spicy, and chock full of bits of fruit. It doesn’t really need a frosting, but I am sure it would take one fabulously. I love how you can see little bits of where the starter didn’t get fully incorporated in. A mistake, sure, but it looks cool. I also feel like if you were to soak this cake in alcohol, it would be an awesome fruit cake!
Please Vote. And always be nice to others (during election time, especially).
- 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup mature, bubbly sourdough starter (100% hydration)
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
- 1 Tablespoon white wine
- 2 Tablespoon brandy
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup chopped prunes
- 1 cup dried currants, cranberries or cherries (or a combination)
- In a large bowl combine the flour, buttermilk, and sourdough starter until you get a thick dough.
- Form the dough into a round ball, place it in a greased bowl and allow it to rest on the counter, covered, for 8-12 hours.
- In a medium bowl, beat the butter, sugar, molasses, wine, and brandy together until well combined. and fluffy.
- Stir in the two beaten eggs and the spices.
- Add the dough to this mixture and beat until the mixture resembles that of a thick cake. It works best to tear the prepared dough into small pieces.
- Stir in the dried fruit.
- Pour the cake into a greased bundt pan (you could also use a springform or dutch oven).
- Cover the pan with a clean dish cloth and allow to rise until it is almost doubled in bulk (about 1.5 -2 hours)
- Preheat your oven to 375F.
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
This cake will keep for 3-4 days when stored wrapped well on the counter.
If you don't have a sourdough starter, you can substitute the 1/4 cup of sourdough starter for 1 tablespoon instant yeast mixed with 1 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of flour.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 378Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 140mgCarbohydrates: 61gFiber: 3gSugar: 28gProtein: 6g