Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election 2008: waiting and eating ....

What else would you do tonight?

We did some investigation of elections and voting in the United States, discussing things like:
  • the original framers of the Constitution said only white men aged 21 or older could vote
  • than after the Civil War, black men could vote
  • it wasn't until 1920 that women were allowed to vote
  • during Vietnam, the age was lowered to 18; the powers that be figured if we could send a man off to war, we could let him vote first!

We also looked at things like voting being a privilege that not everyone avails themselves of; only 64% of eligible voters voted in the 2004 presidential election! That means 46% didn't bother [oops, my bad: that would be 36% didn't bother to vote!]

The tradition on election night is to make a fruit-cake like cake. This was because so often folks had to travel for at least a day to vote and the men needed food for the journey. Here's the modern version we made for tonight - an adapted version from the Culinary Institute's cake (the original had whiskey, of which we had none, so I substituted oj!):

Modern Election Day Cake

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup each of dried cranberries, golden raisins, blueberries (red, white and blue!)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
2-1/4 tsp dry active yeast (1 pkg)
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
3 eggs
1 cup confectioners' sugar

1. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar with the cold water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the dried fruit, sugar mixture, and orange juice; set aside.
3. In a another bowl, combine the warm water and milk. Stir in the yeast and 1 cup of whole-wheat flour. Sprinkle the remaining whole-wheat flour on top. Set aside for 30 minutes or until the yeast breaks through the surface of the flour.
4. Butter an 8-inch tube pan and dust it with flour, tapping out the excess.
5. In a bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour, salt, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon; set aside.
6. Set a strainer over a bowl. Drain the fruit mixture; reserve the syrup for the glaze.
7. Beat the butter with the remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar until light. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition.
8. Beat the yeast mixture into the batter followed by the flour and spice mixture. The batter will be stiff.
9. Stir in the drained fruit. Transfer the batter to the pan. Set in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
10. Set the oven at 350 degrees.
11. Transfer the cake to the oven. Bake the cake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
12. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack.
13. For the glaze: In a medium bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar and 2 tablespoons of the syrup from the fruit. Stir until smooth; set aside.
14. When the cake is cool, lightly brush with the reserved syrup. Top with the glaze.

The cake was fabulous ... and the election is still up for grabs ...

It's going to be a long night -- at least we have cake ... and time to pray!

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