Mary Lincoln, who loved to entertain, planned birthday celebrations for her four sons.

She also planned a very special birthday dinner for her husband on Feb 12, 1862, just a little over a week before their son Willie would die.

The menu included boned truffle-stuffed turkey, stewed scalloped oysters, pate de fois gras, aspic of tongue, canvasback duck, partridge, fillet of beef, ham, venison, pheasant terrapin, chicken salad, sandwiches, jellies, cakes, ices and champagne punch.

Mr. Lincoln’s favorite birthday cake was his wife’s almond white cake. Here’s her recipe:

Mary Todd Lincoln’s White Cake

(Recipe from Lincoln’s Table by Donna D. McCreary adapted by Janice Cooke Newman)

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
confectionary sugar

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt cake pan.
  • Cream butter and sugar. Sift flour and baking powder 3 times. Add to creamed butter and sugar, alternating with milk. Stir in almonds and beat well.
  • Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter. Stir in vanilla extract.
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Turn out on a wire rack and cool. When cool, sift confectionary sugar over top or use a basic white frosting sprinkled with almonds.

Source: The National Park Service