Mary Todd Lincoln’s White Almond Cake was President Lincoln’s favorite dessert! While they were courting, Mary Todd baked this cake for her suitor Abe Lincoln, who promptly declared it “the best cake I ever ate.” The recipe followed her to the White House, where the First Lady often served her White Almond cake at state dinners.
The original recipes from the era used different methods of measurement. Updating this recipe for modern times has resulted in many different versions. This revised recipe was adapted from Cynthia Nobles’s recipe at bitesofhistory.com based on the book Lincoln’s Table: A President’s Culinary Journey from Cabin to Cosmopolitan.
This cake reminds me of a good pound cake but with the taste of a fortune cookie. It is moist, dense and not too sweet. The freshly-ground blanched almonds give it an elegant taste. In my version of this cake, I swapped the vanilla extract for almond extract. I really don’t know if almond extract was readily available in Illinois in the 1850’s, but I like the taste!
My fascination and admiration for President Lincoln started when I was a young girl on a school field trip to Springfield, Illinois. Today, I have a collection of Lincoln books, pictures, and collectibles displayed in our guest bedroom, affectionately called “The Lincoln Bedroom”. Abe Lincoln’s spiritual and principled wisdom saved a nation and permanently changed our country for the better.
Mary Todd Lincoln’s White Almond Cake seems like the perfect dessert to celebrate this President’s Day.
Mary Todd Lincoln's White Almond Cake
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons. baking powder
- 1 ⅓ cups whole blanched almonds
- 1 cup 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 ⅓ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 7 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously grease and flour a bundt cake pan.
Combine flour and baking powder and sift 3 times. Set aside. Using a food processor, pulse the almonds until they resemble coarse flour. Set aside.
At medium-high speed with an electric beater or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy and light yellow, about 3 minutes. Add almond extract. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat an additional minute.
Fold flour into butter, alternating with milk, until well blended. Stir in ground almond flour and beat well.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks. With a rubber spatula gently fold egg whites into batter.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Cool 20 minutes in pan. Remove from pan onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Sift confectioners’ sugar on top.