Sit down for a meal with a Hatteras Island resident this holiday season and you’ll likely be the lucky recipient of a true Island treat, Hatteras Island pone bread. Pone bread has been served in Island homes as long as any Island native can remember, due to the perfect blend of basic ingredients and a long shelf life. This is a recipe that has been passed down for generations and will continue to be a Hatteras Island “staple” during the holidays.
In the days before freezers and short hunting seasons, all the thrifty islanders had a barrel of salted wild fowl, which made an excellent stew, and its gravy was enjoyed over the pone bread. Any gravy is good with it, however, so choose your own favorite to serve with this Cape Hatteras tradition.
-Mrs. Rebecca Burrus
Hatteras Island pone bread is prepared the evening before and left to set overnight. It was originally cooked for hours over an open fire with hot coals on the lid, but can now be seen through the glass door of most ovens on Hatteras Island.
Hatteras Island pone bread keeps well, so be sure to prepare plenty to enjoy in the days ahead!
Traditional Hatteras Island Pone Bread
3 cups cornmeal
5 cups boiling water (1 more may be needed, if too thick)
2/3 cup cold water
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
2/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons shortening
• Scald cornmeal with boiling water in deep mixing bowl. Stir well and add salt, sugar, molasses and cold water. Blend in flour, mix well, cover, and let stand at room temperature for 10 to 12 hours.
• In a Dutch oven, a 3 qt. iron skillet, Pyrex, or other heavy baking pan, melt the shortening and pour in the batter. Bake uncovered for two hours at 375°F.
• Reduce oven temperature to 300°F and continue to bake for another hour, covered. If oven is not needed, turn it off and leave covered pan in for an hour or more longer.
• Slice and serve cold.
Indulge in a true Hatteras Island treat this holiday season!