Congress Cake

Sweet Tooth Thursday

Today’s recipe is rich with history like so many good eats we enjoy today. It has a story worth telling. The recipe goes back to the 1870’s and was the center of attention during the many arguments and oracles in the halls of congress. To understand, we must remember the times, when women were not supposed to understand politics and not allowed to participate in the public life of party politics. Women did however, expressed themselves through volunteer organizations that supported various reform efforts. The National Women’s Suffrage Association and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union to name two.

Victoria Claflin Woodhull (1838-1927) became the first woman to run for president of the United States when she announced her candidacy for the 1872 election by challenging Victorian-era minded America. Talk about an uproar, members of Congress went crazy and all kinds of heated arguments filled the halls and galleries. Focusing on women was not part of their ritual and doing so skewed their institution. The ‘gentlemen’ of congress normally debated things like protective tariffs, transportation subsidies and they favored manufacturers, railroad barons, bankers, moneylenders, and holders of government bonds. Victoria drastically changed the topics and the way in which ‘business as usual’ ran congress. Members of both parties did everything imaginable to thwart her success. They did just that and as we all know, she lost the election. She also spent the day in jail for sending obscene literature through the mail. Some say it was a set up.

Upon her release, she immediately went home and made a cake. In it was a little reminder of her peers – tart apples and nuts. She sent it over with a quote from Jean-Jaques Rousseau, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” or ‘Let them eat cake’ as we know it today. Success did come to Victoria and her sister from the backing of Cornelius Vanderbilt. They became the first women to open their own thriving brokerage firm. By the way, many attribute Marie Antoinette to this quote, but think about it – no bread, so cake for the poor? Does not sound at all like her. Well, I hope you have enjoyed this story and I cannot wait for you to try this recipe. It really does exist and is so quarreling delicious. Enjoy!

Congress Cake

3 cups chopped apples (tart)
2 large eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts
3 teaspoons sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon for coating the tube or bundt pan

    Prepare the pan in advance by greasing and then shaking the sugar-cinnamon mixture until the sides and bottom are coated well.
    Combine oil and sugar mixing well. Add eggs, beating after each addition. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. Add vanilla to egg mixture and mix well. Slowly add the blended flour mixture into the mixing bowl. Stir in the apples and nuts.
    Pour batter into pan and bake at 325 degrees for 1-3/4 hours.

    17 thoughts on “Congress Cake

    1. Shari

      Leave it to a woman, all sugar and spice and every…….:) Love the story and love the cake, thanks for sharing. Bet this smells incredible as it bakes.

    2. Drick

      many thanks for your comments – hey Emily, take note of certain parts in the post – the cake is real, other elements are there for a 'story'


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