The Mary Lyon Society honors alumnae, parents, and friends who have included Mount Holyoke in their estate plans by making a life income gift to the College or by naming the College as a beneficiary of a will, trust, retirement plan, or insurance plan. Please contact the Office of Gift Planning if you believe you qualify for membership.
Deacon Porter's Hat
In celebration of Mary Lyon's birthday on February 28, we share this very special recipe for "Deacon Porter's Hat." A Mount Holyoke tradition, this spicy, cylindrical cake was named for the fashionable, tall, stovepipe hat worn by Deacon Porter when visiting campus.
Just who was Deacon Porter? Deacon Andrew W. Porter of Monson, Massachusetts, aided Mary Lyon in the building of the College and served as one of the original trustees from 1836 to 1877. He was a good friend of Mary Lyon's, known for his business talents, integrity, and experiences as a builder and contractor. He and his wife, Hannah, played vital roles in establishing Mount Holyoke as they spent several days each week in South Hadley, helping with the physical chores necessary to prepare for the first 80 students. Mary Lyon counted the Porters among her closest personal friends, and Porter Hall, built in 1897, was dedicated in honor of them and their contributions to the College.
Deacon Porter's Hat Recipe
Melt shortening; add molasses and buttermilk. Sift together flour, soda and spices. Combine with molasses mixture. Add raisins. The resulting batter should be stiff. If it is not, add more flour, one tablespoon at a time. Turn into buttered one-quart mold. Fill mold half full. (You may also use a one-pound coffee can, or double the recipe and use a two-pound can. For individual servings, use six- or eight-ounce juice cans and fill 2/3 full.) Cover tightly. (A double layer of aluminum foil tied with string may be used.) Set on rack in large kettle and pour boiling water to half the depth of the mold. Cover kettle tightly. Bring to boil on top of the stove. When steam begins to escape, reduce heat to low and steam for two hours. Unmold and place hat whole and steaming on a dessert plate. Slice individual portions at table. Serve with lemon, hard, or foamy pudding sauce.
Foamy Pudding Sauce
Combine all ingredients except cream. Beat until thick and foamy. Refrigerate about two hours. Fold in whipped cream just before serving.
In her book, On a New England Campus, published in 1937, Frances Lester Warner Hersey, class of 1911, declared, "The pudding must be brought to the table complete, with sauce, and sliced after it has come on, or it is not a Hat. If there are ten or twelve tables, then ten or twelve Hats will be required . . . Deacon Porter's Hat follows the Quantum Theory. No fraction of a Hat is a Hat."
Special thank-you to Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
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