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Latest Comments

Belle of Amherst Black Cake Recipe


No, I have not attempted to scale down the recipe to see if it comes out, but I did get a copy of "The Belle of Amherst" by William Luce. If anyone does scale down this cake, and actually makes it, I'd love to know how it turns out! Don't know if this recipe has any "Dickinsonian authenticity" or if it was just a dramatic invention of Mr. Luce, but here goes: ACT ONE: EMILY: ..."Oh! The cake! "I do all the baking here at Homestead. I even banged the spice for this cake. My father always raved about my baking. He would eat no cake or bread but mine." (She samples a piece of cake) "Mm. Lovely. "No, no -- it's easy to make. The recipe? Of course. It's really very simple. Now, I'll go slowly." (She places the cake on the tea cart) Black Cake: two pounds of flour, two pounds of sugar, two pounds of butter, nineteen eggs, five pounds of raisins, one and a half pounds of currants, one and a half pounds of citron, one half pint of brandy -- I never use Father's best -- one half pint of molasses, two nutmegs, five teaspoons of cloves, mace, and cinnamon, and -- oh, yes, two teaspoons of soda, and one and a half teaspoons of salt." (Emily has removed her apron) "Just beat the butter and sugar together, add the nineteen eggs, one at a time -- now this is very important -- *without beating.* Then, beat the mixture again, adding the brandy alternately with the flour, soda, spices, and salt that you've sifted together. Then the molasses. Now, take your five pounds of raisins, and three pounds of currants and citron, and gently sprinkle in all eight pounds -- slowly now -- as you stir. Bake for three hours if you use cake pans. If you use a milk pan, as I do, you'd better leave it in the oven six or seven hours." "Everybody *loves* it. I hope you will too. Thank you. (She hangs her apron on the back of the chair. Then she sits down and pours tea) "Sometimes I bake one for a neighbor and I enclose a short note that is usually so obscure . . . (Gleefully) ". . . no one can understand it! I hear my little notes are becoming collectors' items in the village. People compare them to see who has the strangest one."

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