A couple weeks ago, I started pestering my friend Steve: “Hey, you guys should have a potluck on election night so we can watch the results come in together!” Happily, he and Sarah obliged. As the event neared, I pondered what to bring… Driving through my neighborhood a few days ago, I happened to glance at an Obama sign in someone’s yard and it hit me: a round layer cake, decorated with the Obama campaign’s symbol on top! (I obviously wasn’t the only one out there to have had this idea, but I was excited nonetheless.)
As well as the cake turned out, it wasn’t without incident. I used a cake recipe from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, which instructed me to use two 8-inch cake pans. I thought it was a lot of batter and perhaps I should go up to the 9-inch pans, but I trusted Martha… and ended up with a stove full of burning cake batter as the pans overflowed. My house still stinks like burned cake, but fortunately the cake itself was salvaged and didn’t have any off flavors.
Yesterday I was too antsy to stay at work all day. I had planned to go vote on my lunch break, but instead I just ended up working through lunch and leaving at 3PM. After all of the predictions of long lines at the polls, I was almost disappointed when I was able to walk right up to the registration table with no wait. After carefully filling in all my ovals, I thanked the election workers for having volunteered, and skipped outside into the 68-degree fall sunshine. As I got in my car, my eyes welled up with pride in my candidate and the happiness at having been part of something so historic.
Then it was back home to decorate my cake! I like to bake but I’m not much of a cake decorator; this was actually probably the most complicated thing I’ve ever attempted (not saying much, I know…). I frosted the cake all over with a base layer and then used a jar lid to make a light impression of a circle for the middle; the rest was done freehand. When I finished, I couldn’t actually believe how good it turned out (not tooting my own horn, I was just expecting it to look messier due to my lack of decorating experience!) so I had to take a phone pic and send it to half my friends. Just in case something happened to mess up the frosting in transit, I wanted proof of my efforts!
Fortunately we made it Steve & Sarah’s without incident. In the car on the way over, we heard the news that they had called Pennsylvania for Obama… things were looking up! I was so grateful to be spending the evening among friends. I figured no matter how things turned out, I would want to be among sympathetic souls. We had the TV on the entire evening, but mostly only paid attention when the “big” announcements were made, like Ohio. I think that was the point at which we all felt we could relax a little and open the champagne & cut the cake (which, of course, had to have its portrait taken first… Thanks once again to Marvin for his photography services).
After the results were official and we had sufficiently hooted, hollered and clinked glasses, I spent some time on the phone talking and texting with my friends and family out of state: Katie in Denver, Leighanna in Florida, my sister Beth in Chicago (all of whom helped put their states in the blue column!), and my mom in South Carolina (who TRIED her best, volunteering for Obama… I’m sure the national results made up for the fact that her state went red though). Then we all settled in to watch McCain’s speech as he conceded the election. The general consensus was that his speech was very positive and will hopefully help bring some of his “fringe” supporters a little closer towards acceptance and tolerance.
As the election results sank in, we all pondered the historic nature of what had happened, knowing that we would remember for the rest of our lives where we were that night and how it felt to be a part of history. I thought of my nieces and nephew, who will never know what it’s like to live in a world where only a white male has ever been president, and of my friends Ian & Michelle’s not-yet-born son, who will enter the world in the first month of Obama’s presidency. I can only wait with eager anticipation to see how this moment in history will affect the way they see their world. As we listened to his acceptance speech, I was filled with hope for the future and relief that our country had done the right thing, Bradley effect be damned. It was beautiful and inspiring to see the rally in Grant Park, where people from all backgrounds and walks of life celebrated this victory together.
Victory Cake for Barack Obama
1 recipe for chocolate cake layers (I used the recipe on page 168 of Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook)
4 cups vanilla buttercream
2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
red & blue food coloring
pastry bags for decorating
This is obviously more about the assembly than anything. I used chocolate cake layers and vanilla buttercream as a nod to Obama’s mixed heritage (the coconut is because he was born in Hawaii and because I love coconut!) 🙂 Invert one cake layer onto a cake plate or platter and frost the top. Sprinkle with coconut. Lightly frost the top of the other layer and then invert that onto the first layer (this is so you have a nice flat surface on top.) Frost the top and sides. You don’t need to frost the top very heavily since it will get another layer when you decorate it. Try to make sure it’s as smooth and even as possible to give yourself a good surface to work on. Press the remaining coconut onto the sides of the cake. Take about 2/3 cup frosting and color it blue; color another 2/3 cup red. Center a jar lid or other circular lid of the appropriate size onto the top of your cake and press lightly; this will be your guide to outlining the inner white half-circle. The rest you can pretty much do freehand. (I’m clumsy so if I can do it, so can you!) Make this cake on Inauguration Day or any other day you want to celebrate Obama’s victory!