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:
..."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)
"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 . . .
". . . 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."