Lincoln’s Corn Cakes

Our family has a special tradition every February 12.  We eat hoecakes (otherwise known as corn cakes).  Corn cakes is probably a better term, but my children love the name hoecakes.  The name is a result of these cakes being cooked over a fire on the end of a hoe.

This was one of Abraham Lincoln’s favorite foods.  He first ate them as a boy, and they remained his favorite breakfast food throughout his life.  He often bragged that he could eat them faster than anyone could make them.  He also enjoyed them for late Sunday supper.

Essentially, corn cakes are pancakes made with cornmeal instead of flour.  Start with 2 cups cornmeal and mix in 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda.

Add one lightly beaten egg.

Then add 3 cups (yes, you read that right) buttermilk.

Mix until combined.  The batter will be fairly thin.

Cook in a hot pan sprayed with nonstick spray and serve with butter and maple syrup.  (Lincoln ate them drenched in sorghum syrup and butter.)

They are actually really yummy.  The buttermilk adds a tangy flavor that offsets the sweetness of the syrup.  Some members of our family actually prefer corn cakes over pancakes because the cornmeal makes them a bit heartier and gives them more texture.

corn cakes with syrup

I have actually used many different hoecake recipes over the years.  (I think Martha Stewart even had one on her website sometime!)  The version I’ve just shared with you is our favorite.

This recipe comes from a cookbook that I hunted down after contacting a museum for more information about the foods that Lincoln ate.  It’s not easy to find, but if you’re really interested, you can go on a treasure hunt of your own.  It’s titled “Lincoln’s Table”  by Donna D. McCreary.

Lincoln's table cookbook

Just in case you’re curious, George Washington ate them, too!  They make a perfect breakfast dish for President’s Day:  tasty AND historical!

Lincoln’s Corn Cakes 2 cups cornmeal 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. baking soda 1 lightly beaten egg 3 cups buttermilk Mix together and cook like pancakes.  Have fun!

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