Election Cake Recipe (2024)

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Election Cake, like a bite from American history, makes its rounds every November. I make it every year, but only once a year – just before the election. Preparing Election Cake is a celebration of love, patriotism, politics, and history.

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Election Cake's History

In early America, the electoral process brought communities together in festivity and revelry. Families traveled from the far reaches of their region to town centers where they enjoyed a holiday – visiting neighbors' homes, dancing at balls, drinking, carousing, and mustering for the local militia. Indeed, for a time before America revolted and became a nation in her own right, these celebratory spiced cakes that we know (or used to know) as election cakes were called muster cakes.

After the revolution, there was no need to muster, but festivities still surrounded the electoral process and these spiced and fruit-studded cakes were renamed for the annual elections. Election cakes commissioned by local government could often command several hundred dollars by today’s standards, as they were massive, and intended to feed an entire community of voters.

By the middle of the 19th century, states and municipalities no longer commissioned the cakes and what was first a symbol of conviviality and festivity began to take on an ulterior motive: slices of election cake were provided as an incentive to vote a straight ticket or for a particular candidate.

Election Cake's area a traditional sourdough cake

A charming old-world recipe, preparing an election cake is a slow process, one thatfell from favor by the late 19th century when cakes leavened by baking powder became all the rage.

Cakes of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries were typically produced through soaking or sour leavening - like sourdough bread, while those cakes that weren’t prepared in this manner, such as Portugal Cake, excluded wheat flour in favor of blanched almond meal.

Not only were election cakes prepared through a long soak in fresh or sour milk coupled with sour leavening, but they were filled with butter and eggs, spiked with brandy and wine, and then flavored withallspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and coriander. Cooks studded the spiced cakes with dried fruit – mostly prunes, raisins, and currants, but whatever was readily available.

Traditional Election Cakes could feed an entire community.

A special occasion food, cakes were prepared in magnificent quantities – enough to make a modern cook blush. In one of the first recorded recipes for election cake, Amelia Simmons calls for more than three dozen eggs, a quart of brandy, and fourteen pounds of sugar.The sugar available in this period would have been unrefined and naturally rich in molasses, similar to Mexican piloncillo or Indian jaggery.

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Election Cake Recipe

Election Cake is a traditional cake historically served at the time of mustering or elections in early America. It is a sour-leavened caked sweetened with unrefined cane sugar, molasses, dried fruit, brandy, white wine, and spices.


Prep Time10 minutes mins

Cook Time50 minutes mins

Total Time1 hour hr

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  • In the basin of a stand mixer, beat the flour together with the milk and sourdough starter until it forms a ball. Then oil a large glass bowl, plop the dough into the bowl, and cover it securely. Allow the dough to rest at least 8 and up to 12 hours.

  • Beat the butter, sugar and molasses together with the brandy and wine until fluffy, then beat in the eggs.

  • Remove the ball of dough from the bowl, and tear it into ½ inch pieces. Drop them into the bowl with the butter and spoon in the salt and spices. Beat them all together, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until they form a uniform batter. Fold in the currants.

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and then grease and flour two 9-inch tube pans.

  • Spoon the batter evenly into the two pans, filling them about ¾ up their sides. Bake the cakes about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cakes' center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack, and allow them to cool completely before unmolding.


If you don't keep a sourdough starter, but want to make election cake, beat 1 tablespoon instant yeast and an additional 1 cup milk and ½ cup flour into the flour in the first step.

Rate this recipe!If you loved this recipe, give it a rating. Let us know what works, what didn't and whether you made any adjustments that can help other cooks.

Try these sourdough recipes next

  • No-Knead Sourdough Bread
  • Easy Sourdough Starter
  • Wild Yeast Bread
  • Wild Yeast (Yeast Water)


Election Cake Recipe (2024)


How much should you beat a cake? ›

For a regular cake, just until all ingredients are incorporated. If you beat it too long, it may make it too dense and tough. i have a pound cake recipe that you beat 25 min.

How many people will a 6 inch cake feed? ›

The taller the cake, the thinner you'll likely want to slice, though. Based on cakes that are between 3 and 6-inches high, a 6-inch round cake will yield 5-11 servings; an 8-inch round will yield12-16 servings; and a 9-inch roundwill produces 12-16 servings.

How big is 6 inch cake? ›

Most 6″ cakes are 3 layers tall, so they are very tall. Total cubic inches of actual cake will be 170 cu,inches. For the standard 8-to-9″ diameter cake of 2 layers, the actual cake will be between 200 and 255 cubic inches.

What does overmixed cake batter look like? ›

An overmixed egg foam will look dull or broken, like cottage cheese. With the addition of flour, an undermixed batter will have uneven streaks or visible pockets of flour. When properly combined, the batter will be satiny, a little glossy, and able to make luscious peaks or ribbons.

What happens if you over beat cake batter? ›

You may know what you get when you overmix cake batter: a dense cake with tough texture (and maybe some unappetizing gluey streaks as well). But far fewer bakers know that undermixing batter can cause the same or similar results.

What size is a smash cake? ›

Round smash cakes typically have a diameter of 4 inches. A square smash cake might measure 6 inches per side. The small size fits nicely on a high chair, but your baby won't definitely won't eat the whole thing.

Is a 6 inch cake too small? ›

Here's why I've recently fallen in love with 6" mini cakes (and why you will, too): Here and gone: A single 6" round cake is the ideal size for two to four people to finish in a single sitting.

How much does a 10 inch cake feed? ›

10 in cakes can be sensibly served to up to 25 people with each slice measuring about 1 1⁄4 inches across the back or about the width of a teaspoon. As with the 8 inch cakes, 10 inch cakes can be served event style. Cut event style, a 10 inch cake can be served to as many as 39 people.

Is it better to beat eggs before adding to cake mix? ›

Martina says, “Late in the mixing stage, eggs will incorporate better if you lightly beat them before adding to the batter. The finished cake may be slightly shorter than expected, but its flavor and tenderness shouldn't be affected.” For egg-leavened cakes, the eggs are crucial.

What is the secret to making a cake? ›

The next time you're baking a cake, keep these simple tricks in mind:
  • Prep the ingredients. Have all of the ingredients at room temperature, unless the recipe directs otherwise. ...
  • Use the right flour. ...
  • Prep your pans. ...
  • Alternate wet and dry ingredients. ...
  • Preheat. ...
  • Release air bubbles. ...
  • Test for doneness. ...
  • Cool down.
Jun 29, 2022

How many 6 inch cakes will a box mix make? ›

Generally, one cake recipe will make two, 8″ round cake layers, or a 13×9 inch cake layer. Sometimes it can make three, 6″ round cake layers, although those layers might be a little thinner.

What size cake for 60 guests? ›

The average 12" wedding cake serves 40-60 people. The 10" cake on top of that serves 30-40 people and the 8" cake on top of that serves 20-25 people. So a classic 3-tier cake with 12, 10, and 8 inch layers serves about 100 people. Narrower cakes will be smaller, more affordable, and serve fewer people.

How much should you beat cake batter? ›

Anywhere between 2 and 6 minutes should suffice. The time necessary for mixing will vary with recipe but this should help give you with a ball park idea of mixing time. I hope this information helps as you go forward experimenting with mix times in all of your batter-blending adventures. Happy baking!

Can you overmix a cake? ›

When you overmix cake batter, the gluten in the flour can form elastic gluten strands – resulting in a more dense, chewy texture. The white batter looks airier, while the red looks thick and dense.

How long should you beat cake mixture? ›

Typically, cake mix should be stirred for about 2-3 minutes until the batter is smooth and well combined. Over-stirring can result in a tough, dense cake, so it is important to mix just until the ingredients are combined.

What is a good profit margin for cakes? ›

Most bakeries should set a goal to reach a net profit margin of 20%. Around 10% would be average. Anything under would that be slipping into low revenue. Remember though, your net profit margin accounts for all of your expenses, not just the COGS for your bakery items.


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