George Washington’s Favorite Hoe Cakes


½ teaspoon active dry yeast
2 ½ cups white cornmeal, divided
3 to 4 cups lukewarm water
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
melted butter and honey or maple syrup for serving


Mix the yeast and 1 ¼ cups of the cornmeal in a large bowl. Add 1 cup of the lukewarm water, stirring to combine thoroughly. Mix in ½ cup more of the water, if needed, to give the mixture the consistency of pancake batter. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
When ready to finish the hoecakes, begin by adding ½ to 1 cup of the remaining water to the batter. Stir in the salt and the egg, blending thoroughly. Gradually add the remaining 1 ¼ cups of cornmeal, alternating with enough additional lukewarm water to make a mixture that is the consistency of waffle batter. Cover with a towel, and set aside at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.
Heat a griddle on medium-high heat, and lightly grease it with lard or vegetable shortening. Preparing one hoecake at a time, drop a scant 1/4 cup of the batter onto the griddle and cook on one side for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. With a spatula, turn the hoecake over and continue cooking another 4 to 5 minutes, until browned.
Place the hoecake on a platter, and set it in the oven to keep warm while making the rest of the cakes. Drizzle each one with melted butter.
Serve the hoecakes warm, drizzled with melted butter and honey or maple syrup.
~ from Dining with the Washingtons, edited by Stephen A. McLeod (Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, 2011). modernized recipe developed by Nancy Carter Crump
click here to read more about President Washington’s Farewell Address