Thomas Edison Estate: Fort Myers, Florida

Over on the Gulf Coast, in Ft. Myers, are the Ford and Edison Winter Estates. It's a 30 acre property with over 15 historic buildings including Edison's workshop. Remarkably well preserved, this is a beautiful snapshot of two inventors, tinkerers, scientists, and friends.

I'm an Edison fan. A couple years ago there was a series on the History Channel called The Men Who Built America. If you haven't seen it yet, put it on your list. It's such a great mixture of historical reference and drama. The show starts with Cornelius Vanderbilt and works its way through Rockefeller and Carnegie, J. P. Morgan, and Thomas Edison. Of course, I'm a nerd, so I'm also a giant Tesla fan as well. (Not the band. Wait, did you know there was a band called Tesla? Hair bands were not my thing. Also, I am older than I think I am.)


Anyhow, this is a recipe for what historians think was Thomas Edison's favorite dessert.

Hickory Nut Cake

1 ½ cups of sugar
1 cup of butter scaint
1 cup of milk
3 cups of flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pint chopped Hickory nuts
1 ½ cups *pulverized sugar

Cake  Mix sugar and butter scaint until a cream. Combine with milk, flour, baking powder, 6 egg whites beaten very stiff and vanilla. Add the nuts, mix all together and bake in a moderate oven.

Frosting  Let 1½ cups pulverized sugar boil until when put in cold water it becomes brittle. Beat the 2 egg whites until very stiff and add the sugar and beat until it gets cold. Flavor to taste.

I visited the Edison and Ford Winter Estates this past summer and bought the small cookbook they had there. It contains quite a few of Mina and Thomas Edison's recipes. Written in the style of the day, the measurements are a bit different than I'm used to seeing. You should definitely experiment with them and try out different options. 

Good luck!

*Sugar used to arrive in cone shaped packages and wrapped with blue paper; also known as a loaf of sugar. In the past, sugar needed to be pulverized using a tool called sugar nippers or nips.