Happy Election Day! To whet your appetite for both politics and pastry, why not avoid getting in a fistfight with your neighbor over who you should vote for, and instead enjoy this collection of stories about desserts named after Presidents and their first ladies?
George Washington Cake: Washington Cakes have been popular up and down the East Coast for hundreds of years. Both the George and Martha versions come in several varieties. In the most traditional sense, Washington Cake is a dense, creamy fruitcake with white icing. Philadelphia-style Washington Cakes (pictured directly below) are completely unique, however—they’re more like gingerbread.
Martha Washington Cake: George Washington’s wife is remembered for her fruitcake, or “great cake,” which required a big party: the original recipe calls for 40 eggs, 5 pounds of fruit, and similar quantities of other ingredients.
Apricots with Rice à la Jefferson: After the development of a new strain of rice called Jefferson Rice (to honor the President’s desire to improve rice culture in the United States), Charles Ranhofer of Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City developed this tricked-out rice pudding dessert.
Dolly Madison Baked Goods: While they dropped the “e” from Dolley Madison, the snack cake company’s onetime motto, “Cakes and pastries fine enough to serve at the White House,” makes it pretty clear that the company is named after the former First Lady. The company is now owned by Hostess, and makes mass-produced snack cakes and donuts.
Madison's Gingerbread: While to many, the Madisons (namely, Dolley) are linked to ice cream, Dolley also had a much warmer, but equally delicious, favorite for the holidays--Soft Gingerbread. Apparently hers, adapted from a Jefferson recipe, got its unique and delicious flavor from beef drippings, but call me chicken, I decided to use butter instead and while we have no point of comparison, this one was very moist and delicious, so the butter seemed to have worked just fine. Recipe contained in this post.
Grant Cake: The Grant Cake appears to be a simpler variation of the later versions of the Election Cake which lack yeast, roughly the same in construction, sweeter, quick-bread version of the cake.
Robert E Lee Cake: This orange and lemon layer cake, topped with a citruscoconut topping, was traditionally believed to be a favorite of the Civil War general who led the confederate troops in the War Between the states.
James K Polk Cake: This is a fruitcake densely packed with nuts, candied fruits, and spices. Perhaps this cake, which weighs as much as a log, is to honor his nickname as “Napoleon of the Stump”?
Peach Pudding à la Cleveland: This sophisticated peach pudding, rich with brown sugar and Madeira sauce, was named with tongue firmly in cheek after our 22nd and 24th president by famed chef Charles Ranhofer, after Cleveland declared that he didn’t like French food.
Mamie Eisenhower Fudge: After she contributed this recipe to a White House cookbook, Mamie’s fudge (also called “Mamie’s Million Dollar Fudge”) became very popular. Considering that it is so easy to make (it takes just about 10 minutes) and that the addition of marshmallow cream makes the texture smooth and creamy, it’s no surprise that this is still considered a classic today.
Truman Pudding: Also called Bess Truman’s Ozark Pudding, this pudding, which is served warm, is made with fruit and nuts native to the Ozark region. It is said to have been one of Harry Truman’s favorite recipes from his wife’s baking repertoire.
Watergate Cake: Made with pistachio pudding mix, the invention of this cake recipe timed with the Watergate scandal of 1973, when all sorts of foods with the Watergate moniker proliferated. President Nixon was known to love pistachio nuts—hence the choice of flavor.
Hungry for more like this? These posts may also be of interest:
- Presidential Dessert Recipes
- Hartford Election Cake
- Sweet Celebrities: Desserts Named after People
- Pastry Politics Cartoon
- and you might want to buy some Yes We Cake postcards!