Week 19 of Dave Raymond’s American History course covers “Idols of Mercy: Revival, Counterfeits, and Art” We often think about what these men and women encountered in their travels across the West, but we don’t always remember what they ate, like Shaker Cider Cake.
The Shaker cult in the 1800s was strange in many aspects and did not last long. While their religion was a novelty, they were well known for two other things besides it: their beautiful furniture and excellent food. People in the neighboring towns would sometimes take a buggy and spend the afternoon at the Shaker compound, usually to sample their fine cooking.
The shaker community had settled on fertile land and grew most of their food themselves. They believed it was important to maintain the freshness and integrity of their food, and so did not refine their flour, which was common at the time, but used whole-grain. Their feasts included muffins, bread, cake, vegetables, meat, preserves, fruit, and jam, all of the highest quality ingredients. Although the Shaker religion died out with the followers, their food was long remembered and many Shaker recipes are still around today.
Shaker Apple Cider Cake
- 3 c. All-purpose or Whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 c. Butter, softened
- 1/2 tsp. Baking soda
- 1 1/2 c. Sugar
- 1/4 stp. Salt
- 2 eggs, room temp.
- 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
- 1/2 c. Apple cider
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour loaf pan, then set aside.
- In medium bowl whisk together flour, soda, salt, and nutmeg. In separate large bowl beat together butter and sugar until smooth. Add in eggs and beat to combine. Alternate adding the flour mixture and cider into egg mixture, starting and ending with the flour. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour, until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. If the top gets too dark and starts to burn, cover with tin foil. Remove from oven when finished and let sit 10 minutes. Take cake out of pan, let cool, then cut and serve.