Baking History

A Taste For The Past

Lincoln Cake

Posted by bakinghistory on February 21, 2008


A moist, buttery cake with a delicate lemon scent


I recently read a very interesting post about a luncheon menu for Presidents’ Day written by T.W. from Culinary Types. Every dish featured in the menu was gorgeous, but I was particularly interested in the Lincoln Cake, created in 1865 to commemorate President A. Lincoln. The recipe was published in Godey’s Lady’s Book, while Sarah J. Hale was the magazine’s editor.

The cake is very nice, with a moist crumb and a texture reminiscent of traditional pound cakes, with a pleasant lemon scent. It keeps fresh and moist for a relatively long time, and it is even better after a day or two.

From the original recipe by Sarah Annie Frost

In: “The Godey’s Lady’s Book Receipts and Household Hints”, 1870—USA


2 eggs

2 cups (400 g) sugar

1/2 cup cup (113g) butter

1 cup (237 ml) milk

3 cups (375 g) flour

1 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp (organic) lemon extract

All ingredients must be at room temperature.

Sift the flour with the baking soda and cream of tartar.

Cream the butter at high speed until fluffy, then add the sugar 1 tbsp at a time, still beating at high speed. It is important not to add the sugar all at once or the mixture will be heavy instead of fluffy, which will compromise the cake’s final texture. Once all of the sugar has been incorporated, add one egg and beat well until thoroughly mixed, then add the second egg and the lemon extract and mix well.

Add 1/3 of the flour (sifted with cream of tartar and baking soda) and mix it at the lowest speed. Add 1/3 of the milk, in a thin stream, mixing it in at low speed, then increase the speed to high and beat the mixture till light and creamy. Add 1/3 more of the flour , then 1/3 more of the milk, and mix as described above. Add the remaining flour and then milk as described before. Beat the mixture for 3 minutes at high speed, until creamy and light.

Pour the batter (which might look like it is too liquid, but that is how it is supposed to be) into a 5.4 x 9.1 inch (13.6 x 23.2 cm) loaf pan, lightly greased. I find that lining the pan with aluminum foil and greasing the foil liner makes it much easier to unmold the cake.

Place the cake in a cold oven and set the temperature  at 300°F (150°C) and let the cake bake for about 2 hours, or until golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, than unmold it and let it finish cooling on a rack.

P.S. Louise of Month of Edible Celebrations suggested baking the cake at very low temperature and starting with a cold oven. If the oven is too hot, because of the high amount of sugar in the ingredients, the cake will brown too fast on the outside and remain raw in the center.



12 Responses to “Lincoln Cake”

  1. Congratulations – that is a beautiful result for the Lincoln Cake, and you suceeded where I failed completely! Clearly it was the temperature that was the issue. It looks beautiful and I’m inspired to try again!

  2. bakinghistory said

    Hi T.W.! Yes, Louise’s advice was vital; the cake took a long time to bake but once ready the texture was perfect. It’s worth it to try again, it is a very pleasant cake 🙂 .

  3. Simona said

    Very interesting baking tip, indeed, and a very nice cake.

  4. bakinghistory said

    @ Simona: yes, without that tip, it would not have baked properly.

  5. […] of our minds this week! You know that as much as I love old cookbooks and vintage recipes I check Baking History regularly!  You have to check out the recipe for Lincoln Cake, created in honor of Abraham […]

  6. Aparna said

    I love the way the cake looks in your picture. It would be lovely with coffee, I guess. Is this cake very sweet?

  7. bakinghistory said

    @ Aparna: Hi! in the recipe there is a little more sugar than flour in weight, and I expected it to be rather sweet, while in fact it is not. The extra sugar makes it very tender and moist. The outside thin brown crust is a little sweeter then the crumb. It is very good with tea and coffee.

  8. Louise said

    Oh Manuela,
    The cake looks wonderful. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could send us all a teeny sliver. I for one would certainly enjoy a piece RIGHT NOW!!!!!!

  9. bakinghistory said

    @ Luise: :-). Thanks! And thanks for the advice about baking it–it would not have worked out well without your tip!

  10. Miri said

    Dear Manuela, I’m so glad I found your blog, it’s just wonderful! Not only is your writing great and everything you prepare looks delicious, I really love also your blog’s concept.

  11. bakinghistory said

    @ Miri: Hi! Thanks!

  12. Anonymous said


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