election (cup)cake

In challenge on November 8, 2012 at 2:46 am

the next in the series of cupcake extravaganzas! (you didn’t think we’d pass up the opportunity to do an election-themed cupcake, did you?!)

because we were holding it on november 6 – and because we work in a bipartisan office – we agreed to stay away from politics. (no cupcakes with fondant dogs in mini candy cages on the top…)

miss lisa made two offerings this time, and here are the campaign platforms i wrote for them:

Can’t we all just get along? These treats embody the modern spirit of compromise and coming together – President Obama’s favorite ice cream flavor (mint-chocolate) with Governor Romney’s favorite color for the electoral map (red). Topped with marshmallow buttercream frosting (which everyone can agree on!) and a marshmallow election hat that would make Uncle Sam proud.

For the vegan special-interest groups, a blue-state-velvet cupcake with bipartisan almond-coconut frosting and festive USA coconut topping. Those colors don’t run! Not ignoring even the smallest constituency, there is a vegan and gluten-free version, as well.

for mine, i had a glimmer of an idea to make plain-looking cupcakes on the outside, and to fill them with either red or blue vanilla custard. secret ballot. get it??

but i made the custard the day before, and it was a disaster. so – new plan!

in one of my old (and i mean, OLD – 18th century) cookbooks, i found a recipe that was a perfect fit – election cake.

here was my platform:

This is a modern interpretation of a late 18th-century recipe for “Election Cake,” sometimes called “Muster Cake” or “Hartford Election Cake.” It was used to celebrate a community gathering (like an election or militia training, aka “mustering”) or as an encouragement to vote a straight party ticket. The original recipe, which makes a 12-pound cake, was first published in 1796 by Amelia Simmons in her cookbook American Cookery, although reference to the cake can be traced further back. It is yeast-leavened because at that time, there was no such thing as commercial baking powder. It also contains nuts and a trace amount of alcohol.

(see the 18th-century betsy ross flags?)

the recipe – and more information – can be found here.

i topped them with a lemon drizzle that was halfway between frosting and a glaze. (lemon juice and powdered sugar, with a small amount of light corn syrup. you can increase or decrease the sugar based on what texture you’re going for.)


1. YUM. these had a yeasty, spiced flavor that reminded me of hot-cross buns. a couple people said they’d be great for breakfast or with a cup of tea. certainly not the traditional super-sweet, georgetown cupcake-style confection.

2. i filled the little cups too much and many exploded-slash-ran over and made a mess. i didn’t take into consideration that this is a yeast-based dough, so there was more rising than usual in a cupcake.

3. the unusual cupcake papers are so cute, aren’t they? i love the way they are shaped and i will certainly use them again.

however, they take a couple tricks to bake in well. this time, i just set them on a cookie sheet, but my first batch didn’t turn out so well – they were pale and sunken in the middle. i think there’s something about a muffin tin – with heat coming from the top, bottom, and around the sides – that helps cupcakes bake evenly. next time, i’m going to set these papers in a muffin tin to bake, even though they don’t “fit” the same way regular papers do. i might also mess around with the oven temperature.

4. there was a point while they were in the oven that i started to smell something odd.. the paper burning? or the ink? or glue burning? but i didn’t see anything burning, the papers looked fine afterwards, and it did not affect the flavor.

no matter who you voted for, cupcakes are something we can all support.


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