Attucks Cake with Revolutionary Roots

crispus-attucks-cornbreadWhen British troops opened fire into a crowd of patriotic protesters at the Customs House in Boston on March 5, 1770, five men were killed. The so-called Boston Massacre became part of the lead-up to the colonies in America declaring independence from Britain in 1776. Crispus Attucks, one of the men killed in the Massacre, has a recipe named after him in The Historical Cookbook of the American Negro by the National Council of Negro Women (1958; reprinted by Beacon Press, 2000). The book celebrates African-American history with a year’s worth of recipes.

crispus-attucks-boston-massacre

Five men were killed at the 1770 Boston Massacre.

Attucks, believed to be the son of an African man and a Native
American woman from the Natick tribe near Boston, was likely born into slavery in Massachusetts and freed himself by running away. He became a seaman on ships sailing in and out of Boston, and happened to be in town on the day of the Boston Massacre. To honor his martyrdom, March 5 was named Crispus Attucks Day in 1858 and an Attucks monument stands on the Boston Common. The Johnny Cake recipe in the book comes from the Indianapolis Council of the National Council of Negro Women; a high school in Indianapolis is named after Attucks. The corn meal in the recipe links to his Native American and New England heritage. The baking soda / vinegar combination assures a light texture.

crispus-attucks-source-wikimedia

Crispus Attucks

To Crispus Attucks Johnny Cake (1958)
Makes 16 squares

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups corn meal
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar [I used mostly lemon juice and little rice vinegar]
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons melted shortening [I used butter]

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan.
  2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Add the corn meal and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, vinegar, milk and shortening.
  4. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir just until dampened.
  5. Turn the batter into the pan and bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden and the batter springs back lightly when pressed. Cut into squares when cool.
Advertisements

About heritagerecipebox

I am named after my great-grandmother, who only prepared two dishes, according to anyone who remembers: hamburgers shaped like squares and peanut butter sandwiches. Fast forward 100 years and 500 miles north from my hometown of Richmond, Virginia to Boston, Massachusetts. Somehow, I ended up with a cooking gene as well as an interest in history and family stories. I have worked as a journalist and published three cookbooks plus a memoir. This blog gives me a chance to share family recipes and stories -- and other American recipes with a past. What do you have to share?
This entry was posted in Food, History and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s