President's Cake Recipe
President's Cake
Flavors of the USA
Total time: more than 2 hours

Prep. time: 2 hours
Baking time: 1 1/4 hours

Difficulty: Requires a certain dexterity
Chef's Note


Sample the same cake that the President will eat at midnight on Christmas Eve. This White House recipe is over two centuries old, and the President's Cake tradition goes back to the time of Abraham Lincoln.

The cake is actually a type of rich yeast bread (brioche).

Hints & Tips
* rose water is made by soaking rose petals in water for 15 minutes; the petals are then squeezed to obtain the desired liquid.

**you can toast the almonds in the oven or in butter in a skillet.

For 12 servings

- 125 ml (1/2 cup) warm milk
- 3 packets of yeast
- 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) unsprayed red rose petals (loosely packed)
- 1/2 tsp. saffron
- 4 tbsp. brandy
- 200 g (7 oz.) icing sugar
- 500 g (1 lb.) flour
- A good pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. rose water
- 10 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 225 g (8 oz.) butter, cut into cubes and softened
- 100 g (3 1/2 oz.) chopped toasted almonds
- 50 g (2 oz.) red cherries
- 2 tbsp. finely grated orange zest
- 4 1/2 tbsp. softened unsalted butter

- 750 ml (3 cups) cold whipping cream
- 50 g (2 oz.) icing sugar
- 4 tbsp. brandy
  1. Leave the granulated sugar and yeast to soak in the warm milk for 3 minutes; mix and let rest in a warm draft-free spot until the mixture has doubled in volume;
  2. meanwhile, soak the rose petals in the brandy for 20 minutes; remove the petals and let drain on paper towel;
  3. mix the saffron into the same brandy;
  4. place 325 g (about 2 c.) of the flour and the icing sugar into a large bowl and form a well in the centre; pour in the liquid ingredients: the milk with the yeast, rose water, egg yolks and brandy with the saffron;
  5. using a wooden spoon, gradually mix the flour and the sugar into the liquids until smooth; then gradually add in the butter in small dice and beat until the dough forms a ball;
  6. place the ball on a lightly-floured surface. Knead the dough, adding in 175 g (approximately 1 cup) more flour, using only a very small quantity at a time. When all the flour has been incorporated and the dough is smooth and shiny, place it into a buttered bowl; sprinkle lightly with flour, cover with a kitchen towel and place the bowl in a draft-free location for about an hour until the dough has doubled in volume;
  7. combine the rose petals, almonds, cherries and orange zest; toss the mixture with 4 tsp. of flour until well-coated; punch down the dough in the bowl; add in the fruit mixture and knead until well-distributed;
  8. line a large loaf pan with brown paper that has been thoroughly greased on both sides; put the dough into the pan; cover with a kitchen towel and let rest another 30 minutes. The dough should rise again and reach the top of the pan.


  1. Preheat the oven to 105° C (210° F);
  2. place the loaf on the lower rack and let bake 15 minutes;
  3. increase the oven temperature to 160° C (350° F) and continue baking for one hour; the cake will rise above the loaf pan;
  4. remove the cake from the oven and let cool 15 minutes before taking it out of the pan.


  1. Whip the cream until it thickens; add the sugar and brandy and continue to beat until it forms peaks;
  2. spread the cream over the cake and decorate with crystallized red rosebuds

A dessert wine from Languedoc-Roussillon (Muscat de Rivesaltes)

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