Celebrate Lincoln's Birthday with Mary Todd Lincoln Tea Cakes!

What are you serving for Abraham Lincoln's birthday?  Well, if you were Mary Todd Lincoln, wife to the 16th president of the United States, you'd probably whip up your signature vanilla almond sponge cake to delight "Honest Abe" on February 12.  


You needn't travel back to the 1860s to get a taste of this historical cake.  The cake is easy to prepare, and you'll find everything you need to make it at your local grocery store.  
I found a recipe for the "Mary Todd Lincoln Cake" adapted to today's measuring conventions by Amy of visit-gettysburg.com.  It can be prepared as a bundt cake or as a layer cake.  When served as a layer cake, the cake is typically layered with preserves. 
My take on the classic is to make individual tea cakes filled with just a spot of tart raspberry preserves, and topped with a dash of powdered sugar.  The combination of the ground almonds and raspberry preserves reminds me of a Linzer Torte.  They make the perfect little breakfast cake to enjoy with a nice cup of tea on Lincoln's Birthday -- or any day!
Mary Todd Lincoln Tea Cakes
(adapted from the original recipe at visit-gettysburg.com)
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup raspberry preserves
  • confectioners sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 375.  
  1. Grease and flour two 9" round cake pans, one bundt pan, or prepare 12 individual baking cups.
  2. In a food processor, grind the almonds into a course flour.  Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, sift flour and baking powder.  Set aside.
  4. In a standing mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  
  5. Stir flour into the butter mixture, in small batches, alternating with the milk.
  6. Stir almond meal into the batter.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form (a pinch of salt will help the process along).  Whisk in vanilla extract.
  8. Gently fold egg whites into the batter with a rubber spatula.  Pour batter into prepared pans or cups.
  9. Bake for 25- 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool for fifteen minutes before inverting cake from pan.  Cool completely before serving.
  11. For tea cakes, an apple corer is a perfect tool for removing a small piece from the center of each mini cake.  To easily dispense the raspberry preserves, spoon into a pastry or ziploc bag, and snip the tip.  Then simply "pipe" the preserves into the hole.  Dust cakes with powdered sugar and enjoy.

To share a taste of history, wrap cakes in cellophane bags and attach one of the tags (download HERE).

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