Friday, December 10, 2010

Emily Dickinson’s Recipe for Black Cake (Fruitcake)

This week has been Emily Dickinson week at The Library of America. Not only is today Emily Dickinson’s birthday, but the New York staff invited members of the LOA Fellows Program to our offices for a Christmas tea, where we served Emily Dickinson’s fruitcake.

Dickinson was quite a baker; apparently her father “would eat no bread except that baked by her.” Her fruitcake (or, black cake) recipe is included in American Food Writing; it was one of several “lawless cake” recipes passed down by her family. We can recommend it as a good fruitcake even for non-fruitcake fans.
Emily Dickinson’s Black Cake
2 pounds Flour—
2 Sugar—
2 Butter—
19 Eggs—
5 pounds Raisins—
1 ½ Currants
1 ½ Citron
½ pint Brandy
½ — Molasses—
2 Nutmegs—
5 teaspoons
Cloves—Mace—Cinnamon
2 teaspoons Soda—

Beat Butter and Sugar together—
Add Eggs without beating—and beat the mixture again—
Bake 2½ or three hours, in Cake pans, or 5 to 6 hours in Milk pan, if full—
Also of Interest:
  • The Emily Dickinson Museum hosts an annual baking contest. You can find other Dickinson recipes, including her recipe for gingerbread, in the contest rules (PDF).
Related LOA volume: American Food Writing: An Anthology With Classic Recipes

LOA staff members Stefanie Peters and  Karen Duda, enjoying Dickinson’s fruitcake.

Dr. Ashley B. Johnson and Sallie Hirsch of Seattle, Washington, with their seven-month-old daughter Lucy. The Johnsons are longtime Library of America supporters and Sallie’s parents, Roland and Jean Hirsch of Germantown, Maryland, have endowed LOA’s Frederick Douglass volume through the Guardians of American Letters fund.
Paul Wagner, a Library of America fellow, looks through American Writers at Home. He and his wife, Jeanette, are Guardians of The Lincoln Anthology and Mark Twain: The Gilded Age and Later Novels.
LOA Fellows Anne McIlvaine and Alvin Schulman.

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