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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mary Todd Lincoln's Courting Cake


From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I know, I know! I'm a few days late, but my intentions were good. I had planned to feature this recipe on Lincoln's birthday, but things around here are moving at a dervish pace and, despite a background in logistics, I am, for the moment anyway, at the mercy of my environment. We have sold and bought a house and are in the throws of sorting and packing items that will work in quarters smaller than I have seen since I was a bride. While we are not yet members of the small house movement, we are about to shed 1,000 square feet and I feel positively heroic as we undertake this endeavor. It's a good thing that the Silver Fox and I like each other, though that may change when he learns that some of his favorite, carefully collected ceramic hippos may have to be sacrificed to fit the confines of a much smaller place and simpler lifestyle we have chosen. To ease the pain, I made this cake for him tonight and I am happy to report it ain't half bad. The recipe comes from the Lincoln National Historic Site and they believe it is much like the one that Mary used to make the cake she served to Abe when he came a-courtin'. The realist in me wants to point out that Bundt pans are not part of our culinary history, but I guess all good stories need a bit of embroidery, so I'll be standing down and just report that this is a nice cake. It is a cross between a sponge and pound cake and it develops a lovely flavor as it sits. I'll probably be making this again, but next time I think I'll replace vanilla with almond extract to intensify the almond flavor of the cake. Make sure you coat your pan well, as this cake doesn't want to leave the pan. I think those of you who try the Courting Cake will be pleased. It is easy to make and very flavorful. Here is how it is made.





Mary Todd Lincoln's Courting Cake
...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of the Lincoln National Historic Site

Ingredients:

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
Confectioners' sugar

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a (10 cup) Bundt cake pan.
2) Cream butter and sugar. Sift flour and baking powder three times. Add to creamed butter and sugar, alternating with milk. Stir in almonds and beat well.
3) Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into batter. Stir in vanilla extract.
4) Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for one hour or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Turn out on a wire rack and cool. When cool, sift confectioners' sugar over top. Yield: 12 servings.


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8 comments :

Alicia Foodycat said...

Good luck with the culling and packing! I do not enjoy that process at all.

Kim G. said...

What a nice challenge...changing home for a much smaller place... We all collect too much stuff over the years! This cake looks absolutely lovely, mary!

Big Dude said...

While whole or sliced strawberries make for a prettier presentation, my mom always used a potato masher on them to bring out more flavor. I can see a big spoonful of them on this cake.

Chelsea said...

Good luck with the move! We did a huge downsize when we went from Portland and Eugene and after the initial whining I loved it. What a fun cake! Even if it's maybe not entirely accurate, it's a fun story :)

Jenn C said...

Good luck with the move.. I know moving to smaller quarters is never an easy task, even when it's wanted.
The cake looks tasty and a good way to bribe the Silver Fox into not being THAT upset about certain things :)

David said...

Mary, A little half and half over a hunk of that cake and I'd be a very happy camper! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Jackie said...

Hi Mary

Will you use the same amount of almond for the vanilla.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Jackie, in this recipe I would use the same amount. In other recipes I would cut the amount in half. Almond flavoring does not appeal to everyone, so I'm careful not to use too heavy a hand.

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