Mary Todd Lincoln’s White Cake


1 cup butter
1 cup finely chopped blanched almonds
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla (or any other preferred flavoring)
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour (sifted before measuring)
3 teaspoons baking powder
White of 6 eggs

Cream butter and sugar; sift flour and baking powder together 3 times, and add to butter and sugar, alternating with milk. Stir in nutmeats, and beat well. Then fold in the stiffly beaten whites and flavoring.



Pour into a well-greased and floured pan. The old-fashioned, fluted copper pan with a center funnel was probably used originally.


Bake 1 hour in a moderate (350 degree) oven, or cook until the cake tests done.


Turn out on a wire rack and cool.


This makes a large cake. The batter can be cut in half and baked in 2 (9-inch) layers if desired. For a good basic white cake, omit almonds. Frost cake with the old-fashioned boiled white icing, noted here.

You may serve Crème Anglaise Sauce with this cake.  A great way to use up all the leftover egg yolks.


President Lincoln is said to have remarked that Mary Todd’s White Cake was the best he had ever eaten. This confection was originated by Monsieur Giron, a Lexington caterer, on the occasion of Lafayette’s visit to that city in 1825. The Todds got the recipe from him and treasured it ever after.


Crème Anglaise Sauce


1 1/2 cups whole milk, cream, or half-and-half
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Warm the milk or cream in the saucepan and remove from heat. Make sure it’s cool enough to touch before adding it to the eggs. (You can skip this step, but warming the milk separately helps cut down on cooking time)

2. In a medium, heat-proof bowl, whisk the yolks together and then whisk in the sugar and pinch of salt. Continue whisking until the mixture turns pale yellow and forms ribbons on the surface.

3. Whisking steadily, pour the milk into the egg-sugar mixture in a steady stream.

4. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and set over medium heat. Stir constantly in an “S” shape to make sure the bottom doesn’t scald or the eggs curdle.

5. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens enough to fully coat the back of your spoon and is as smooth as silk.

6. You can also check the temperature with an instant-read or candy thermometer — it should be at least 156°F and not exceed 180&deg. (The higher the temperature, the thicker the final cooled custard will be.)

7. Strain the custard to remove any bits of eggs that may have curdled and stir in the vanilla. Doing this over an ice bath helps stop the cooking process so the custard doesn’t over-cook.

Additional Notes:

• Crème anglaise will keep refrigerated for about one week.

• If you’d like to flavor your custard, you can infuse herbs, spices, or other flavors into the milk in Step 1, or add flavoring extracts along with the vanilla in Step 6.


1 1/3 cups milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8×8 pan cornbread (from above), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8 slices white sandwich bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 3/4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
For the cornbread: Grease an 8×8 baking dish or pan for the cornbread. Whisk milk, oil, and eggs in a medium bowl. Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add milk mixture, whisking until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack. (Cornbread can be made up to 2 days in advance.)
For the dressing/stuffing: Spread cubed cornbread and bread onto two baking sheets and bake until dry and golden, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Add onion, celery, and garlic and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in sage and transfer mixture to a large bowl.
Add cornbread, bread, lightly beaten eggs, broth, parsley, salt, and pepper to the bowl and toss until combined. Let sit 5 minutes, then toss again.
If serving as a side dish/dressing and not stuffing the turkey, spoon mixture into a 9×13 baking dish and bake until top is toasted golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.
For stuffing: Reserve 4 1/2 cups for turkey, then spoon remaining stuffing into a 9×9 baking dish. Bake until top is golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.
The baked cornbread can be left in its pan at room temperature overnight or up to 2 days before making the stuffing, instead of oven drying (in step 3). You can skip the white bread and do all cornbread if you want, just double the cornbread recipe and bake it in a 9×13 for the same amount of time.