Grateful American® Foundation

New-York Historical Society’s Recipe of the Week: Washington Cake

A recipe from the Duane Family cookbook collection (1840-1874). Read more about the collection, plus see all the recipes to cook or bake here.

Washington Cake

A recipe from the Duane Family cookbook collection (1840-1874). The original recipe for Washington Cake is credited to Mary Simpson in the early 19th century. Simpson was a free Black woman in New York City who ran her own bake shop and sold the cake to commemorate the first president. She’s sometimes named as Mary Simpson Washington and described as a woman who was once enslaved by the Washington family.​

Mix together until quite white
3 cups of sugar
2 [cups] of butter
4 eggs
7 cups of flour
1 teaspoon full of salamatus [baking soda]
1 tea cup [just under ¾ cup] of milk
1 glass of wine
1 teaspoon rose water
1 pound of fruit [dried fruit like citron, currants, or raisins]

Historic Recipe for Washington Cake