There are a bazillion sources of information on Abraham Lincoln. At Ford’s Theatre, which I very, very much want to visit, there is a large spiraling tower of books about him. That makes it a challenge to identify just one element to focus on to create a tribute cupcake for him.
Even if you want to do a regional focus, there’s a challenge because many states claim Lincoln. Kentucky claims him. After all, he was born there. Indiana claims him; he spent some of his boyhood there. Illinois claims him, as that’s where he rose to national importance.
Then there are his words. To be fair, let’s acknowledge that language changes over time, and that the modern reader doesn’t often read passages like the ones written in Lincoln’s day. Maybe, at times, time adds some romance. However, Lincoln was a known joke and storyteller. As such, he had an understanding of the way that we can be moved by language, or convinced, or ignited.
Let’s focus on Lincoln’s first inaugural address. It is very tempting to glaze over most of the address to focus on the nuggets of poetry that shine from within. After all, after the strife is done, we like to clean up matters a bit. It seems that we like our figures pretty one-dimensional. The dimension that we have chosen for Lincoln is that of the Great Emancipator.
The politician’s job, however, requires a great deal of deft flexibility. Lincoln spent a lot of that address talking about the Constitution and what it had to say about the matters of the day. More specifically, he called out that the Constitution can’t be detailed enough to have a solution built-in for every possibility. He talked about his duty to uphold the Constitution. He talked about maintaining the union and not being flexible with the secessionists. spent the first part of his address trying to assuage the fears of those who thought that he symbolized great change on the slavery issue. He straight up said that he had no intention of doing anything that didn’t uphold the constitution. Slavery, at that time, was sanctioned by the Constitution. Basically, he said to the south, on the matter of civil war, if you don’t start none, there won’t be none. However, his language was so much prettier, so much more elegant.
It is the poetry of the final paragraph of Lincoln’s first inaugural address that inspired this cupcake.
“I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stre[t]ching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
This cupcake is the perfect excuse to delve into angel food cake. I read that Abraham Lincoln enjoyed plain foods, and that apples were one of the things he enjoyed. So, the cake itself is flavored with apple pie spice and Applejack. Because angel food cake is quite light, I thought that a buttercream frosting might totally overpower it. So, this cupcake is topped by a meringue frosting, again, Applejack flavored.
I’d call this cupcake a success, but I think that more experience working with angel food cake would help. These cupcakes turned out to be small, suggesting that I should have filled the cups differently. Also, it seems like I should have baked them just a touch longer, that like Lincoln, these cupcakes could have used more time.