(c) A Marcy Goldman, BetterBaking.Com Original Recipe
Mrs. Lincolns Vanilla Almond Cake
Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln, as many women of her time, owned and used a copy of Miss Eliza Leslie’s Book of American Cookery, approximately circa 1857, Actually Miss Leslie wrote some nine books and she is purported to be famous (but modest) in her time and certainly one of the most historical cookbook authors of the nation. Had she been around now, I venture to think she would be on the Food Channel with her own series. She’s certainly up there with Mrs. Wakefield, Fanny Farmer and the Rombauers (of The Joy of Cooking). Research indicates Mary Lincoln made an almond vanilla cake for her beau and then later president, Abraham Lincoln. I’ve searched and the recipe has some common elements but, depending on source (anyone have a contact at the Smithsonian or Library of Congress?
Too late, I should have thought of one of the best resources, http://www.juliachildfoundation.org/JCF/Julia_Child_Foundation/Welcome.html - the best place for such things; if anyone would know, they would)t varies as per sugar, and salt (lots or none), leavener (egg whites whipped or baking powder).
At any rate, the original recipe however was more of a sponge cake which not too many of us make these days. I for one prefer whole eggs and/or tend to shy away from beaten egg whites in simple cakes. So, I’ve revamped this cake for the new millennium and in honor of the 44th President of the United States with whole eggs and a touch more leavener. (Remember, modern baking powder as we know it was just getting launched when Lincoln was voted in; mounted egg whites ,soda and cream of tartar were the usual routes to lightness in cakes. Original versions of this cake did not have baking powder it; it was added later.) The original recipe also called for almond or vanilla extract; I use a bit of both.
In essence, I’ve kept the main elements and concept of Mary Lincoln’s cake to stay true to the cake’s (and cookbook’s) roots but made it simpler and I hope a wee bit ore flavorful.
On another cake note, Lincoln’s love of apple cakes was renowned and a version of it will be served, in a nod to things pure, noble and Lincolnesque, at the Obama inaugural luncheon. I too love apples and next to pizza recipes, my website has more apple cakes than anything else. In honor of the Inaugural Day, I share one of my own favorite apple cakes Shredded Dough Apple Tart
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup almonds, blanched and finely chopped
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm milk
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray a 9 inch angel food cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a mixer bowl or food processor, cream the sugar and butter until well blended. Add in the eggs and ½ cup of the flour to blend well. Add in the remaining flour, almonds, baking powder and salt and blend part way, drizzling in the milk until totally incorporated and you have an even batter. You can also dust on some additional chopped almonds on top and dust with sugar.
Spoon into cake pan. Bake until cake springs back when gently pressed with fingertips, 65-70 minutes.
Dust with confectioner’s sugar, or drizzle on white fondant or a red/white and blue fondant design of your own.
© This is a Marcy Goldman/BetterBaking.com original recipe
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