Thomas Jefferson, Mary's President.
Thomas Jefferson, Mary's President.

I heard the women talking in the kitchen yesterday about a cake they made last year. It was an Election cake.  Mother said it was one of the best she had ever tasted and wanted to make another one.  They said it had sherry and raisins in it. And cinnamon, cloves, allspice, mace and nutmeg, too. It was frosted with a Milk Frosting. I could almost taste it.  Three years ago, before I remember, it was 1801 and Thomas Jefferson became our President. Father talks about it a lot. Mother said she thought the only reason some men came to town to vote was to have some of that cake. When I told Josh and Brent about the cake they were surprised women didn’t come and vote too. Sometimes they are so silly.

Election Day Cake*

1 medium sized potato

1/2 pkg. active dry yeast or  1/2 cake compressed

1 cup milk

1 egg, well beaten

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 to 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons shortening

Cook potato in boiling water until tender.  Drain, peel, and work through a sieve, then set aside. Scald milk.  Pour into a large bowl and stir in salt, sugar, shortening, and potato. When lukewarm, stir in yeast until dissolved.  Add egg, then flour, a little at a time, to make a soft but still manageable dough.  Turn out on a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic.  Place in a greased bowl, brush with a little melted butter, cover with a tea towel, and put in a warm spot to rise.  Let rise until a little more than double in size.

3/4 cup of softened butter

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 cup sherry

1/4 teaspoon ground mace

1 cup seedless raisins, chopped

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 cup sifted all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

When yeast dough has risen sufficiently, push down the dough with your fist and work in the butter.  Then using your hand as the mixer, stir in the egg, sugar, sherry, raisins (toss them first in 2 tablespoons of flour), and remaining flour sifted with the spices and salt.  Pour into a large greased Turk’s head mold or a 10 inch tube pan, filling pan only two thirds full.  Cover with a tea towel and let rise and 1 to 1 1/2 hours in a warm place.  Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Cool about 10 minutes, then turn out of the pan, and cool completely before frosting.

Milk Frosting*

Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup milk and 1 teaspoon butter in a saucepan.  Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to boil.  Then boil, without stirring, until a few drops tested in cold water form a soft ball.  Remove from heat, stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and beat until frosting is of a spreading consistency.  Spread over top of cake, letting it dribble down the sides.  If frosting becomes too stiff to spread, melt in top of double boiler over boiling water, then beat again.

*American Heritage Cookbook, page 593

by Mary Beekman

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rebecca sheldrick

Dear Beekman's,

Is there a book about Mary Beekman?

With all the stories in it…I would love to know if there is…

Rebecca Sheldrick