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George Washington's Morning Corn Cakes

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“This is adapted from Crescent Dragonwagon's Cornbread Gospels. Dragonwagon cites Nelly Custis, Martha Washington's youngest granddaughter, gave an account of the first president's morning routine, which included getting up before sunrise, reading and writing until 7 a.m. in the summer, 7:30 a.m. in the winter, and then breakfasting on three of these cakes, "swimming in butter and honey."”
READY IN:
12hrs 3mins
SERVES:
4
UNITS:
US

Ingredients Nutrition

Directions

  1. The night before you plan to eat the corn cakes, combine 1 cup of the cornmeal, 1 1/2 cups of the lukewarm water, and the yeast in a medium-size nonreactive bowl. Whisk well; the mixture will be thin. Cover bowl tightly and let sit overnight in a warm place.
  2. The next morning, whisk in the remaining 1 cup cornmeal, salt, and one egg. Re-cover the bowl; let it stand 15-20 minutes (allowing the just-added cornmeal to absorb some of the liquid and soften a little bit).
  3. Check the consistency; it should be close to a thin pancake batter, not nearly liquid and not as thick as heavy cream. If you need to, add a little more lukewarm water to achieve this.
  4. Heat a cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Oil lightly with a paper towel dipped in oil, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  5. Stir batter well; using a ladle, pour 3-4 thin, 3-inch pancakes onto the hot skillet. Batter will spread out fairly thin; if it doesn't sizzle a little as you pour it, skillet isn't hot enough. If it sizzles a lot, you may need to reduce heat.
  6. Now watch closely. Almost immediately you'll see little bubbles appear throughout. When the top surface is completely dry and edges are beginning to curling, flip one cake. It should be golden-brown, and nicely speckled. Cook about 1 minute for the first side and 30-50 seconds on the second side. Repeat with remaining cakes and batter. (Making sure to stir batter occasionally so it doesn't separate.).
  7. Serve with honey and butter, if desired.

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