Washington cake recipe offers presidential taste

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The Caby M. Froman Club has been studying the religion of our forefathers since this past July. Our club always has such good programs and  forces us to continue learning, even as we get older. 

This particular program is part of our religious study.  One of our meetings was held at the home of Sandra Thomas, where we had a pitch-in meal. My idea was to have everyone bring a favorite dish of one of our forefathers.  That turned out to be a little extensive since the recipes I  found (in my cookbook on recipes of the presidents), had the recipes as originally written.  We prepared some of the things that were their favorites, and ours as well. It was a wonderful meal and meeting.

This started me on the path for this column, since we will be celebrating President’s Day on Feb. 22. I decided to explore the favorite foods of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. It has been a very wonderful and interesting journey.

Both Washington and Lincoln were simple men who enjoyed simple meals.  Washington, since his tastes were simple, preferred a “glass of wine and a bit of mutton” when entertaining his guests. Lincoln  loved fresh fruit, particularly apples, therefore his favorite meal was fresh fruit, nuts, cheese and crackers, if he remembered to eat at all.

At Washington’s presidential dinners, there was usually a variety of roast beef, veal, ducks, fowls, hams, puddings, jellies, oranges, apples, nuts, almonds, figs, raisins and a variety of wines and punch. Plus, you may have heard of Washington cakes, which have been popular, particularly on the east coast for hundreds of years. Generally, it is a dense, creamy fruit cake with white icing. However, there is one that was sold in bakeries in Philadelphia in the 1950s-1960s, called Philadelphia-style Washington cake. It was described as a dark spice cake (similar to gingerbread, but often with chocolate) with chocolate icing. So far, none of those recipes have been found.

Lincoln loved oysters of all kinds and chicken fricassee, so the chicken is on my menu for this Sunday’s meal.

After looking at many similar recipes, I have come up with my version of:

Washington Cake

¾ cup butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

¼ cup wine (your choice of type)

3 cups sifted flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. nutmeg

1½ tsp. cinnamon

1 cup heavy cream

Grease and flour (or use baking spray) two 8-inch round cake pans. Set oven temperature at 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Beat the eggs; add wine to eggs. Mix together with sugar and butter mixture.

Sift together flour, baking soda and spices. Beginning with flour, alternate flour mixture and cream, adding  to butter/egg mixture and blending well after each addition, ending with flour mixture.

Pour batter into the two cake pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, depending on your oven. You may also bake this in a tube pan for about 70 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Frost with your favorite icing or use my

Favorite Chocolate Frosting

2/3 cup butter, softened

5¾ cup sifted powdered sugar

11/3 cups cocoa

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. milk

1 tsp. vanilla

Beat 2/3 cup butter at medium speed until creamy.  Combine powdered sugar and 1 1/3 cups cocoa; add to butter alternately with 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. milk, beginning and ending with powdered sugar mixture. Beat until spreading consistency.  Stir in 1 tsp. vanilla. Spread frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake.



Lonnie Sundermeyer is a retired professional caterer residing in Ghent, Ky.