Emily Dickinson's Black Cake Recipe
Thanks to Marguerite Krupp for making this cake for us and testing the recipe.
Updated for Modern Kitchens
Read the Notes from Experience First!
Notes from Experience:
- Keep the water pan 1 inch full; otherwise, you'll have a black brick.
- I find that parchment paper works better than waxed paper. This cake is
you'll think you're tasting heaven (well, of course you are).
- I usually use only half the listed amounts of raisins, currants, and citron
cake still weighs a ton.
- The longer the cake sits (in a cool, dark spot), the better it will taste.
- Emily used to put hers in the cellar for a month, but I think 19th century people had a different attitude toward mold than we do...:-)
2 cups sugar
1/2 lb. butter
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp clove
1 tsp mace
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground
1/4-1/2 cup brandy
1 lb. raisins
2/3 cup currants
2/3 lb. citron
Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom of the oven. Preheat oven to 225 F. Add sugar gradually to butter; blend until light and creamy. Add unbeaten eggs and molasses. Beat well. Re-sift flour with soda and spices. If you're using unsalted butter, add 1/2 tsp salt. Beat sifted ingredients into mixture, alternately adding brandy. Stir in raisins, currants, and citron.
Pour batter into two loaf pans lined with waxed paper. Bake at 225F for 3 hours. Remove pan of water for last 1/2 hour. Let loaves cool before removing from pans. Remove paper and wrap in fresh paper.
From Emily Dickinson: Profile of the Poet as a Cook by the Guides at the Dickinson Homestead.