How to Make Lincoln's Cake

Posted by The Home School in the Woods Team on

So, you're teaching your children about the U.S. presidents. You know that you could sing them a catchy tune to help them remember all 45, but you want your kids to know America’s leaders on a deeper level – not just the dates and facts. 

It can be hard to imagine that a founding father like George Washington lived a life not so different from ours. For example, Washington loved dogs. Believe it or not, he kept and bred over 30 hunting hounds during his life – three of whose names were Drunkard, Tipler, and Tipsy (no need to mention that part to the kids...).

All of this to say, learning fun facts can be a means of remembering the important ones. That's why we believe incorporating historical recipes into your lessons can help children better understand history on a personal level. 

Today, we're going to share a historical recipe loved by one of America's most well-known presidents, Abraham Lincoln. We hope that by making this recipe, you will try something new as a homeschool parent and help your kids remember an important figure like Abraham Lincoln by literally tasting a piece of his history.

For more on why you should add historical recipes to your homeschool curriculum, read our post, Adding Interest to History with Recipes.

Abraham Lincoln's Famous Cake 

There's so much to say about good old Abe. 

He accomplished one of the greatest presidential feats by bringing a divided country together. He served as president during the American Civil War, one of the most violent and bloody wars in all of history. He delivered the Gettysburg Address, an unforgettable speech that moved the American people. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a declaration that acted as the first step in freeing African Americans and abolishing slavery. And most importantly, he reminded American citizens of a crucial moral our country was founded upon – “all men are created equal.” 

Most of us know the information above, but many of us don't know facts about Lincoln that simply made him human. For instance, he was the tallest president, measuring an astounding 6 feet, 4 inches. He was a gifted storyteller and jokester. He was also known for storing important documents and letters in his top hat!

Amongst all of his great deeds, these qualities make him seem just like one of us. Although we are unable to step back in time to sleep where he slept and think what he thought, we can eat one of his favorite foods – cake. 

Lincoln was known for being a man of simple taste. He enjoyed foods like apples, cheese, crackers, and nuts. Although there was one food he cherished more than anything in the world – his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln's famous cake, otherwise known as "Lincoln's Cake." 

According to historians, Mary is said to have baked this cake for the president when they were courting, and well after they were married. Mary was born to a wealthy Kentucky family in 1818. While she lived a comfortable lifestyle, she surprisingly enjoyed baking all of her life. It's said that Mary once purchased thirteen pounds of sugar for just one week's worth of baking!

This all-American recipe calls for simple ingredients you can find in your pantry, such as flour, sugar, butter, milk, and a few others. While it may be easy to make, it certainly wooed Abe and his sweet tooth. It possesses a delicious buttery lemon flavor like no other. It’s so good that Lincoln claimed it was the best cake in all of Kentucky. 

Recipe for Lincoln's Cake


  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 cups of sugar 
  • 1/2 cup of butter 
  • 1 cup of milk 
  • 3 cups of flour 
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract


  1. Begin by making sure all ingredients are at room temperature. 
  2. In a large bowl, use a sifter to sift together the cream of tartar, baking soda, and flour. 
  3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter by using a blender at high speed. 
  4. Slowly add the sugar one tablespoon at a time. *Note that the consistency should be fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs and lemon extract – continue beating until the mixture is well incorporated.
  6. Combine the dry and wet ingredients. Continue to beat at low speed while adding one-third of the milk in between intervals.
  7. Once all of the ingredients are combined, continue beating the mixture at high speed for 3-4 minutes.
  8. Pour the liquid batter into a greased and floured loaf pan. 
  9. With the oven still cold, place the pan in the center rack and set the temperature to 300º. 
  10. Allow to bake for 2 hours until a knife comes out clean, and the top is golden. 
  11. Cool before cutting and enjoy Honest Abe's favorite dessert! 


Learning history can be tough for kids who like to experience hands-on projects. Incorporating recipes about the person or era they're learning about can add a unique element that sticks with them beyond the final exam.

We encourage you to try adding more recipes to your history curriculum. If you do, please be sure to share your experience with us by commenting on this post or our Facebook page!

More Resources to Use When Studying Abe

If you're looking for more Civil War recipes and resources, check out our hands-on Time Travelers: The Civil War study that involves 25 lessons that spread across 5-10 weeks. Topics covered include slavery, emancipation, secession, several specific battles, many influential leaders and figures, women of the war, reconstruction, and more. 

Looking to include other recipes from different eras of American history in your curriculum? Be sure to take a look at our Time Travelers Bundle collection, where you'll find countless famous recipes throughout history that you can make in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Thanks again for reading our post, and feel free to share Lincoln's Cake with your family and friends on social media. For additional free historical recipes, visit Amy's blog!

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