Supposedly, it was a vanilla almond cake that enabled Mary Todd to win over the stern lawyer,
Abraham Lincoln. In 1825 the Marquis de Lafayette paid a visit to her
family's home during his trip to Lexington, Kentucky. During the reception she tasted
a wonderful cake the chef had prepared. Apparently, she begged the chef, the famed Lexington
confectioner Monsieur Giron, for the recipe. Luckily, he agreed, and eventually
she brought the recipe with her into the White House. Apparently she was not much of a cook
initially, but soon learned the art once the Lincolns set up a household, and the cake became
a popular dessert that she would make for special occasions, including the day Lincoln won the
Republican nomination for president in 1860.
The recipe was a bit heavy on butter, so I gave it a little makeover for the 21st century.
I'm sure Mary would do the same, she seemed to be a very hip and upcoming woman. Mary's
original recipe can be found
and you can see some of the ingredients I changed or reduced. The cake came out great,
with a little less sugar and fat. With a good cup of tea and honey, I'd say it would make
Mrs. Lincoln proud.
Happy Birthday President Lincoln! You continue to be an inspiration.
- 2 cups all-purpose white flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour (pastry flour, if you can)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup margarine, room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons oil
- 3 Tablespoons sweetened applesauce
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1 cup + ¼ cup sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup water
- 1 ½ cups sour cream (light preferred)
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- nonstick cooking spray
- powdered sugar for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk gently to break
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks (reserve egg whites in a separate clean bowl
for whipping later), margarine, oil, applesauce, 1 cup sugar, vanilla, and water. Whisk well
by hand or for about 2 minutes on medium speed mixer.
- Alternatively add the sour cream, then the dry ingredients into the beaten egg-yolk
mixture. Beat well. Then, stir in the slivered almonds and set aside.
- Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl. When partly stiff, add the 1/4 cup sugar
in two batches, and continue whipping the egg whites until they are mostly stiff and stand
like a bird's beak.
- Add ⅓ of the whipped egg whites into the egg yolk-flour mixture and stir gently.
This is to lighten the batter a bit. Then add the rest of the egg whites and fold in gently,
trying to keep the batter as light as possible. Immediately pour into the greased Bundt pan
and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
- Let cool for 10 minutes, then flip out carefully onto a plate. When cool to touch,
garnish with a dusting of powdered sugar.
For photographs and detailed instructions, please visit
Take Our Survey
We need your help! Periodically we conduct a survey of our visitors and use the results
to help guide our planning process for future programming. We really want to know what
you think, and your answers will help us improve the Shape Up America! organization. Please take
a few minutes to share your questions, thoughts and ideas. Your responses will be kept strictly
Donate to SUA
Please consider a donation to Shape Up America! Your tax-deductible contribution helps us develop new initiatives to
address the problem of obesity in America.
Shape Up Secrets
OAAA Weight Management