The Mary Todd Lincoln Cake Abraham Lincoln Reportedly Said Was The Best Ever

Mary Todd Lincoln was a woman who lived a life of tragedy, capped off by the ultimate indignity. More than a century and a half after her husband's presidency came to a shocking end, her name lives on as a rather twisted punchline: "Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?" Abraham Lincoln's long-suffering wife was certainly no joke, though, and she was more than just a tragic heroine, too. Once upon a time, she was a living, breathing woman who struggled and laughed and cried — and also did a bit of baking.

According to "Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography," the young Mary Todd was the least domestic of her sisters, although she was born into a wealthy family where slaves performed the kitchen duties. She did, however, have one particular party piece: a simplified version of a white cake created by Lexington, Kentucky caterer Monsieur Giron. Legend (and possibly fact) has it that a much fancier version of this vanilla almond cake was prepared in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette's 1825 visit to the city. Mary Todd served her vanilla cake to her future husband, but we can't say for sure whether she baked it by herself or had some help from the family cook, as "The True Story of Mary, Wife of Lincoln" notes that Aunt Chaney was also well-versed in this particular recipe. 

Whoever did the cooking, Lincoln Lore tells us the POTUS-to-be supposedly called it the best cake he'd ever eaten.

Abraham Lincoln may have had several favorite cakes

So, was this vanilla almond cake really Abraham Lincoln's favorite or wasn't it? Lincoln Lore says it's kind of complicated. It seems Lincoln may have uttered the very same words, "best cake I ever ate," after tasting a pecan-raisin cake that was yet another Mary Todd (or Aunt Chaney) creation. To be fair, in the bizarre antebellum dating ritual that seems to have involved copious amounts of cake-eating, it was probably diplomatic of (more-or-less) Honest Abe to say every slice of cake set in front of him was the best thing ever, particularly if it was presented to him by the woman he hoped to marry.

To complicate things even further, there may be yet a third candidate for Lincoln's favorite cake, as The South Amboy Citizen once published a recipe called "Lincoln's Courting Cake." This confection contains no nuts or raisins, but is instead made with caramelized sugar in the batter and has a brown sugar-flavored frosting. The paper reports that Lincoln liked eating it when visiting his future bride, although no claims are made as to whether he called it his favorite. We're sure he must have praised it pretty highly, though, since he did get the girl in the end, which is a good thing. Thanks to his sweet tooth and/or his sweet words, Lincoln didn't have to join predecessor James Buchanan as the second bachelor president ever to occupy a lonely White House.