Have your pie, and eat it, too!

Lincoln Bicentennial Plaza

Who doesn’t love pies? Even though there is no reference to Abraham Lincoln’s favorite pie, I like to think he enjoyed this tasty dessert!

While researching the topic for any reference to a food preference I came across this quote from Sally Lincoln. “Abe was a moderate eater and I now have no remembrance of his special dish; he sat down and ate what was set before him making no complaint.”

According to some references he was partial to fruit. Several wild berries and fruit trees were growing in the wilderness of Indiana when he was growing up. At his home in Springfield he had a garden with apple trees and currant bushes. And, Lincoln’s inaugural luncheon menu consisted of mock turtle soup, corned beef and cabbage, parsley potatoes, blackberry pie and coffee. (Source; The American Heritage Cookbook, 1964).

So, maybe, his favorite pie was some kind of fruit pie. What we do know is that he liked his wife, Mary’s, white almond cake.

Mary Lincoln’s main homemaking interest appeared to be cooking, especially making sweets. The cookbooks she purchased after getting married are in the Presidential library in Springfield. Her white almond cake was one of Mr. Lincoln’s favorite desserts. She had brought the recipe from her favorite bakery in Lexington, Kentucky. Mary baked the white cake for Abraham Lincoln when they were courting, as a Springfield housewife, and when she was First Lady. Today, there are many versions of it, including the one listed below.

Mary Todd Lincoln’s White Cake
(Recipe from Lincoln’s Table by Donna D. McCreary was adapted by Janice Cooke Newman)

1 cup blanched almonds, chopped in a food processor until they resemble a coarse flour
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
confectionary sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt cake pan. Cream butter and sugar. Sift flour and baking powder 3 times. Add to creamed butter and sugar, alternating with milk. Stir in almonds and beat well. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter. Stir in vanilla extract. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Turn out on a wire rack and cool. When cool, sift confectionery sugar over top. A basic white frosting sprinkled with almonds was also popular.


Guest post by Paula Alexander of Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

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