Lincoln Cake

lincolncake

February 12: Birthday of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln (1809)

We have been to Washington, D.C., on several occasions for business and pleasure. One of the many monuments we have visited was that of the 16th American president. A huge statue of Abraham Lincoln sits peacefully within his stately national memorial—we hope his expression reflects that we, too, could have peace across the land that he loved.

Speaking of which, here is a cake recipe that Lincoln loved. His wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, supposedly made this almond-flavored confection while they were courting and throughout their marriage. As First Lady, she also made this comforting cake while in the White House. Bake this as a birthday cake in honor of one of America’s most popular presidents—Abraham Lincoln.

Recipe

(Adapted from Parade)

Ingredients

  • 2-3 ounces blanched slivered almonds, finely chopped
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • ½ cup sugar, superfine (caster sugar)
  • ¾ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon extract
  • ¼ cup flour, sifted

Directions

Chop up the almonds finely to resemble coarse crumbs. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks until they are thick with a pale yellow color (about 3-5 minutes).

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Gradually beat in the sugar until blended well. Stir in the almond and lemon extracts. Mix in the almonds.

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Stir in the flour. Fold in about 1/3 of the egg whites into the flour mixture until lightened. Then gradually fold in the rest of the egg whites.

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Pour into an ungreased tube pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool upside down. Carefully remove the cake from the pan. Slice and serve.

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Notes

  • Our final food photo above features lots of Lincoln pennies (unfortunately, we do not have enough five dollar bills!). Look on the back of the penny. Some one-centers have different designs on the back, from the old wheat, Lincoln Memorial and other commemorative bicentennial images to the current Union shield.
  • This cake does not rise as high like an angel food cake. But it is still light, fluffy and delicious for a snack.
  • Search our blog for other patriotic recipes.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Swedish Visiting Cake

June 21: Midsommar/Summer Solstice

We used to attend the Swedish Day Midsommar Festival when we lived in Illinois. Hailed as the Midwest’s oldest and largest “midsommar” (midsummer) festival, the city of Geneva, where it took place, was less than a half-hour drive from our home. We enjoyed the Swedish cultural costumes and performances, the colorful maypole-raising ritual and, of course, the smörgåsbord of Swedish foods!

To celebrate the summer solstice—the longest day of the year—we baked a simple “Swedish Visiting Cake”. Reminiscent of other European almond cakes, like the German Magdalenenstriezeln (for St. Mary Magdalene), Greek Vasilopita (for St. Basil) and Spanish Tarta de Santiago (for St. James), this “Swedish Visiting Cake” could be made for St. John, whose feast day on June 24 is also associated with midsummer.

This is a quick and easy cake to make, especially when visitors are arriving at short notice (hence, the name of “visiting cake”). Serve this Swedish sweet with coffee and tea to show hospitality to guests—or to welcome the summer season.

Recipe

(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan)

Ingredients

  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ¾ – 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (we used vanilla paste)
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds (we used slivered almonds)

Directions

Grate a lemon. In a large bowl, mix the sugar with the freshly grated lemon zest. Beat in the eggs. Add the salt. Mix well. Meanwhile, melt the butter and cool slightly.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Mix in the flour. Pour the melted butter into the flour mixture and blend until the batter is smooth.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Pour into a greased pie pan or 9-inch cake pan. Sprinkle with almonds and a little granulated sugar on top. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until golden brown (the edges will be lightly crisp but the middle should be soft and moist). Remove the cake from the oven and let cool slightly before loosening the sides with a knife or spatula. Slice into wedges. Serve warm or cool.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Notes

  • “Swedish Visiting Cake” is traditionally baked in a cast iron pan.

Tarta de Santiago

(St. James Almond Cake)

Tarta de Santiago 

July 25: Feast Day of St. James the Greater

A miniature version of Our Lady of the Pillar is displayed in the chapel of Islander’s brother’s house. Members of his religious community brought back the replica from Saragossa, Spain, where their founder, Father William Joseph Chaminade, was exiled during the French Revolution. There he was inspired by Mary with a mission to bring faith and hope back to France and to the world.

Centuries earlier, St. James was also inspired by Our Blessed Mother to do the same and share the gospels and love of her son, Jesus Christ, with the Spaniards and the world. In an apparition to Sant Iago, as he was called in Spain, she presented him with a pillar as a promise to help him with his mission. St. James built a chapel in Saragossa in her honor. Shortly thereafter, he was martyred and his remains are believed to be enshrined at the cathedral in another Spanish town, Compostela.

Santiago de Compostela is the third most frequently visited Christian pilgrimage site after Rome and Jerusalem. Several eateries in the area sell a Spanish almond cake, called Tarta de Santiago, associated with the country’s patron saint. We baked and decorated one for his feast day and also featured his cross in the center of the cake. Taste the tradition and make Tarta de Santiago for the Feast Day of St. James.

Recipe

(Adapted from Cooking With the Saints by Ernst Scheugraf)

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 ½ cups almond flour/meal
  • 1-2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • powdered sugar

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until smooth. Add the butter, flour and water. Mix until well blended. Add the almond flour/meal.

Tarta de Santiago

Stir in the grated lemon rind. Pour the batter into a greased, 10-inch round cake pan. Spread evenly for a smooth top.

Tarta de Santiago

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown, testing with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack over another baking pan to catch the crumbs and powdered sugar.  Print and cut out a graphic of the St. James cross. Center it on top of the cake.

Tarta de Santiago

Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top of the cake using a sieve. Carefully remove the paper cutout with tweezers.

Tarta de Santiago

Brush off any stray powdered sugar or crumbs. Present the cake on a platter or board. Slice into wedges and serve.

Tarta de Santiago

Notes