Published May 23, 2020

Adults Night In: Mary Todd Lincoln Cake

This time of year is typically full of social gatherings, picnics and meals shared with friends and families as we embrace the beginning of the summer season. This year, the pandemic has changed so many plans, but many of us still miss the tradition of making and baking special meals and treats to commemorate our favorite social holidays.

To celebrate a holiday weekend that looks and feels very different this year, I decided to bake a cake recipe that Mary Todd Lincoln used as a special cake she would make for her family. Although we are sad to be away from family members that live in various states, we are looking forward to our next virtual hang out as we enjoy this tasty treat that will taste great with some fresh berries and a bit of whipped cream.

As I was baking this cake and blanching the almonds, all I could do was think about how lucky I was to have my electric mixer and internet tutorials to make sure that I was doing everything correctly! The process left me with appreciating how much effort and time went into creating this cake in the 1800s.

Now, let’s get baking!

Ingredients You Will Need

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup chopped, blanched almonds
  • 6 egg whites
  • ¼ tsp salt


1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Sift flour and baking powder together, then remove 2 tablespoons and set aside. You’ll mix that in with the almonds later.

3. Add the flour and baking powder mixture to the butter and sugar mixture, alternating with the milk. Be sure to add everything in gradually, mixing in between.

4. Add vanilla and almond extract, then mix again.

5. Add the almonds and reserved flour mixture into the batter.

6. Combine the salt and egg whites, and beat until stiff peaks form. (Pro tip – egg whites will need to be whipped around 5 minutes. Look for little peaks to form when you remove the beater from the bowl.)

7. Fold the egg whites into the batter.

8. Pour the batter into a cake pan. (Be sure to grease/flour the pan as required – some pans have special baking time requirements depending on which one you are using!)

9. Bake at 375 for about 55 minutes.

10. Baker’s notes – I decided to put mine into two pans since I have various small Bundt pans. Both were 6 cups and did not require the full time since they weren’t filled the entire way. Be sure to double check if your pan runs on the small side – it may not take as long to bake!


Recipe from p. 41 of “The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary,” by Candace Fleming