Lincoln’s Almond Cake – Honestly Good!
Have you ever been curious what our President’s favorite foods have been? I love exploring the history of food. It is fun to learn how certain ingredients worked and came together in colonial times straight through to the present day, especially making desserts. Can you imagine preparing some grand confections by hand – without the help of electricity? I’m thinking of butter, meringue, and whipped cream…with no Kitchen Aid?! My arm is tired just thinking about it.
Well, my whisk is tipped to First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. She acquired a recipe from a Lexington, Kentucky gentleman who created a special cake to honor a visit from President Lincoln, which soon became a family favorite. It is said that Lincoln boasted his wife’s delicious Almond Cake was the best cake he ever ate, and who would argue with “Honest Abe”?
So I set out to follow the 1825 recipe but found I updated it a bit to fit year 2013. Knowing I would have butter in the Almond Buttercream Frosting, I chose to use coconut oil for the cake. I also substituted buttermilk for the milk and used vanilla extract instead of almond. The egg whites – 12 in all – are what made me salute Mrs. Lincoln – hard work to whip by hand, but so worth it! The recipe I followed said the cake would be “very light” but instead, I found it to be dense but still very good. It could be the use of the coconut oil and buttermilk. Next time I will follow the recipe to a ‘T’ and see if there is a difference!
I will share the original recipe and add my substitutions in parentheses.
Lincoln’s Almond Cake
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter (used ¾ cup coconut oil)
3 cups flour (I used cake flour)
3 tsp. baking powder
1 cup milk (used buttermilk)
1 cup blanched almonds (I used sliced almonds)
12 egg whites
2 tsp. vanilla (or almond) extract
How to make:
– Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a bundt or angel food cake pan with grease and flour. You may also use two 9” cake pans.
– In mixer, cream butter (coconut oil) and sugar.
– In separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder very well.
– Alternate addition of flour mixture and milk into butter.
– Chop almonds to fine consistency and add to mixture. Beat well (about 1 minute on medium)
– In glass bowl, whisk 6 egg whites until stiff peaks form.
– Fold gently into the cake batter. This will take some time as batter is very thick.
– Add 1 tsp. vanilla and gently stir.
– In glass bowl whisk remaining 6 egg whites until stiff peaks form.
– Fold gently into cake batter.
– Add 1 tsp. vanilla (or almond) extract. Gently stir.
– Pour batter into prepared cake pan(s) and bake for 55 minutes or until toothpick tests clean. If using 9” pans, check after 25 minutes.
– Cool cake for 5 minutes and turn out to wire rack to cool completely.
Almond Buttercream Frosting:
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
3 Tbsp. half and half
Cream butter and sugar. Add in extracts and milk. Beat for 3-4 minutes until very creamy. If consistency is too thick, add milk 1 Tbsp. at a time to thin. If too thin, add ½ cup sugar to thicken.
What cake is your family favorite?