George Washington Great Cake, 1780 recipe

350° at least one hour

13 x 9 x 3 buttered, paper lined pan buttered

Serves 20

In a large bowl:

Cream until soft and pliable:

1 Lb butter

Gradually add and beat until smooth and fluffy:

2 C sugar

In a medium bowl:

Beat together:

4 egg yolks

1 C sugar

Then stir briskly into butter sugar mixture.

In a medium bowl, sift together

4 C all purpose flour

2 T baking powder

1 t each: mace, cinnamon, salt

Then add to creamed mixture alternating with:

1 C milk/beating well after each addition.

Stir in:

1 c seedless raisins

1/3 C currants

¼ C finely cut citron (purchase at Holiday time in dried fruit area)


Beat egg whites until stiff, but not dry.

Fold into flour mixture.

Pour into prepared pan.

Bake one hour or until done.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes, run knife around edges, turn on cooling rack.



In a medium bowl:

Blend together:

¼ C melted butter

1 t vanilla

¼ t salt

½ C sifted confectioner’s sugar

Add alternately in small amounts beating well after each addition:

Add only enough cream to make the frosting easy to spread:

2 ½ C sifted confectioner’s sugar

5 T scalded cream (approximate)


History of George Washington Great Cake:

Fruit cakes, rich with spice and sin dried fruits, were most popular at Mount Vernon.  They were aptly known as “great cakes”. Directions such as these are existent in old notebooks: “Take a peck of floure and put to it ten eggs and mingle with ye floure two pounds fresh butter.” The term fruit cake did not come into vogue until Victorian days. Layer cakes, as we know them, did not exist.  This recipe, though somewhat modernized, has come down through the centuries as the General’s number one cake. This was served at Washington’s farewell party for his officers.


Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲