Friday, July 11, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #3- Today In History

The Challenge:
Make a dish based on or inspired by a momentous occasion that took place on the day you made it.

Election Cake for the Equality State

In 1869 William Bright sponsored a bill to the territorial legislature of Wyoming. "That every woman of the age of twenty-one years, residing in this Territory, may at every election to be holden under the law thereof, cast her vote."
The women of Wyoming kept a vigil outside the office of Gov. John A. Campbell.
The bill was signed into law.

The eastern cousins of these women fought on with newspaper articles, convention banners, and fund-raising cook-books like today's feature.

In 1890, when statehood was impending, the suffrage question was again brought to the forefront of public debate.
Congress suggested they would withhold statehood if the suffrage clause were not removed.
Wyoming replied they would remain out of the United States for 100 years rather than join without the suffrage clause.

On July 10, 1890 Wyoming was admitted to the United States, suffrage clause intact, as the 44th state. Their history forever in their motto, "Equal Rights."

During the American Civil War, women proved to themselves and the country that they could be more than mere decoration. The time was right for suffrage.
Many leaders of the movement remembered the success of the fund-raising fairs put on by the US Sanitary Commission during the war.
They used this model for their own fund-raising fairs as early as 1870.

In 1886, a group in Massachusetts hit on a means of spreading the message without panicking the Public. Women bought cookbooks full of recipes and household tips and few men thought twice about it. The Author, Mrs. Burr,  would compile recipes from women who held influential positions or pioneered professions, publish these recipes interspersed with supportive messages about suffrage, and charge a premium for the books at the fairs.
Thus, the Woman Suffrage Cookbook was created.
It went on to inspire many others before the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified.

The Recipe:
From: The Woman's Suffrage Cookbook by Mrs. Hattie A. Burr, 1886, pub. 1890

Mother's Election Cake
Five pounds flour
Two pounds sugar
One pint Yeast
Three-Fourths pound Butter
One quart Sweet Milk
Three-Fourths pound Lard
Six Nutmegs
Take about three pounds of the flour, and about one-third of the sugar, and stir up with the yeast and two-thirds of the milk, to rise overnight, or until it begins to fall on the top; then add the rest of the ingredients and bake in loaves about the same as you would bread.
~Miss M. A. Hill

The Date/Year and Region: 
Haverhill, Massachusetts about 1886

How Did You Make It:
To start, I needed to halve the quantity and convert into modern baking measurements. Traditional Oven has several handy calculators to help with that. The recipe then looked more like:
2 1/2 pounds flour (9 cups)
1 pounds sugar (2+ cups)
1/2 pint yeast (2 packets active dry)
3/8 pound butter (1.5 sticks)
1/2 quart milk (2 cups)
3/8 pound lard (3/4 cup)
3 nutmegs (6 teaspoons, ah NO... using 1 teaspoon)

Notice, too, that I've switched to active dry yeast and only a teaspoon of nutmeg. Recent studies have shown nutmeg in larger quantities to be poisonous and hallucinogenic. Yep, we don't want anyone getting sick or arrested by food goodness.

I collected the flour, sugar, yeast, and milk.
I measured out the flour and sugar into a bowl and the milk into a measure.
I activated the yeast. Two packets to 1/2 cup lukewarm water, until bubbly and doubled in size.
I added the activated yeast and milk to the dry ingredients and stir until blended.
I left in a happy place overnight.

The next morning, I added the remainder of the ingredients.
I stirred and then kneaded to mix the ingredients well

I formed the dough into loaves on a greased baking sheet.
Set oven to 375*
Bake 30 minutes, then check.

Time to Complete:
10 minutes to compile the first mix, 12 hours to rise, 10 minutes to compile the second mix, 75 minutes to bake; for a total of 13 hours, 35 minutes. Wow... no wonder they saved this for special occasions.

Total Cost: 
Most ingredients were staples, so fairly cheap. Lard was the most expensive and there are cheaper substitutes.

How Successful Was It: 
I think it tastes terrific, yeasty and sweet, like a very fine beer bread.

How Accurate Was It:
Again, I have only a gas stove rather than a wood-burning one or hearth. I used dry yeast and significantly less nutmeg. Otherwise, I think fairly accurate.

1 comment:

  1. What an incredible day to celebrate! I looked for a good Wyoming recipe for Wyoming Day at the St. Louis World's Fair. Your idea was better.