New York Raw Honey. Last year we uncovered a little story about George Washington's habit for honey. Well, newly inaugurated for his second term Obama may soon be following in his predecessor's famous footsteps. First there was his White House Honey Beer, now the New York Raw Honey served at the inaugural luncheon.
Indeed, President Washington had so many dinner guests the kitchen bustled with activity day and night. Baking, roasting, broiling, frying and stewing were all accomplished here, both in the fireplace and over piles of hot coals burning at several locations on the hearth.
At least three generous meals were served daily at Mount Vernon. Breakfast was served promptly at 7:00 a.m.; dinner at 3:00 p.m.; and tea at 6:00 p.m. Sometimes a light supper was served at 9:00 p.m. As you can imagine, this schedule meant a long and exhausting day for the team of enslaved workers, including Nathan and Lucy, who did the cooking. Lucy lived in an apartment above the kitchen with her husband Frank, the butler. Assistants or scullions, who lived elsewhere on the grounds, hauled water and wood, washed dishes and cooking utensils, and helped with food preparation.
The recipe below was one of Washington's well known favorites—and the one he accompanied with plenty of raw honey. It was called the Hoe Cake and has been well documented as The President's favorite daily breakfast of choice.
It was Washington's step-granddaughter, Nelly Custis Lewis, whose Hoe Cake recipe was favored. Said Lewis, "He rose before sunrise, always wrote or read until 7 in summer or half past seven in winter. His breakfast was then ready—he ate three cakes swimming in butter and honey, and drank three cups of tea without cream." She later described the recipe in a letter as: "The bread business is as follows if you wish to make 2 1/2 quarts of flour up-take at night one quart of flour, five table spoonfuls of yeast & as much lukewarm water as will make it the consistency of pancake batter, mix it in a large stone pot & set it near a warm hearth (or a moderate fire) make it at candlelight & let it remain until the next morning then add the remaining quart & a half by degrees with a spoon when well mixed let it stand 15 or 20 minutes & then bake it – of this dough in the morning, beat up a white & half of the yilk of an egg—add as much lukewarm water as will make it like pancake batter, drop a spoonful at a time on a hoe or griddle (as we say in the south). When done on one side turn the other—the griddle must be rubbed in the first instance with a piece of beef suet or the fat of cold corned beef..."
Washington's Hoe Cake Recipe
8 3/4 cups white cornmeal
1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
Shortening or other cooking grease
Raw honey & Butter (we suggest something mild, like our delicate Basswood or our Star Thistle honey)
1. In large container, mix together 4 cups white cornmeal, 1 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast, and enough warm water to give the mixture the consistency of pancake batter (probably 3-4 cups). Cover and set on the stove or counter overnight.In the morning, gradually add remaining cornmeal, egg and enough warm water to give the mixture the consistency of pancake batter (3-4 cups). Cover and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Add cooking grease to a griddle or skillet and heat until water sprinkled onto it will bead up.Pour batter, by the spoonful, onto the hot griddle. (Note: since the batter has a tendency to separate, you will need to stir it well before pouring each batch.) When the hoecake is brown on one side, turn it over and brown the other.
Serve warm with butter and lots of delicious raw honey.—The Buzz