has anyone ever made Emily Dickinson's "Black Cake"?

I have been given the task of making Emily Dickinson's Black Cake for the anniversary of her death this coming Friday. Has anyone out there made this? The recipe serves 60…..I am trying to get the recipe down to a few cakes rather than one GIANT cake, which I have no pan for. The original recipe calls for 2 lbs flour, 19 eggs, and so on. Anyone know of a simplified version?

  • Posted by: olive
  • May 10, 2015


boulangere May 14, 2015
A black cake was traditionally a fruit cake. As well, it was the traditional cake served as a groom's cake at weddings, served to members of the wedding party prior to the ceremony.
Wendy F. May 12, 2015
Use the CakeO'Meter website to adjust ingredients to smaller amounts
olive May 13, 2015
plainhomecook May 11, 2015
Laurie Colwin has a recipe for Black Cake in her book "Home Cooking." It's a Caribbean recipe and I have no idea what relation if any it bears to Miss Dickinson's. It is, however, wonderful. See http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/269321 and scroll down for the recipe.
plainhomecook May 11, 2015
Should have added that this makes two 10" cakes.
Nancy May 13, 2015
Ah, the great Laurie Colwin! Thanks for this reminder of her Black Cake.
olive May 13, 2015
Thank you !!
mrslarkin May 11, 2015
I've eaten this cake! It was a few years ago at our local library at a reception following an ED play. Cake was yummy. I took home the recipe. Will look for it!

I love ED's history. She was sort of a reclusive baker (besides being a wonderful poet), and the story goes she'd bake things for the neighborhood kids, and lower the treats down to them from her 2nd story window.
mrslarkin May 11, 2015
I found the recipe, and it's the exact same one you have, Olive. No wonder I never made it (19 eggs...what???)

I agree with Shuna - it's definitely a fruitcake - that's how I remember it.

Here's another link I found for a simplified version of the black cake: http://m.startribune.com/lifestyle/taste/11412491.html

Good luck!! Please post your recipe if you have success - I'd love to try it.
olive May 13, 2015
Thanks so much! I will definitely post the results!
Nancy May 10, 2015
wonderful idea! are you going to have readings of the poems, other ways to mark the anniversary--
Meanwhile 2 resources for scaling to pan size or scaling cake recipe up or down
olive May 10, 2015
Hi Nancy, Thanks so much for replying! My boss, who enlisted me to bake this incredible cake (s) is making little booklets for our restaurant of ED's poems for the day and placing them on each table!
Shuna L. May 10, 2015
Hello Olive,
I have heard of cakes like this - they are very closely related to a Fruitcake. A quick search brought me to this recipe, http://www.washingtonpost.com/pb/recipes/emily-dickinsons-black-cake/9745/ which also creates a lot of batter, but tells you how much batter for one loaf pan.

My rule for scaling up and down recipes is the same:
1. Figure out how much batter I want in my baking vessel.
2. Using a calculator, add up all my ingredient's weight.
3. Multiple or divide #2's number to get the desired amount of cake pans.

The people on the other end of your endeavors are very lucky!
olive May 10, 2015
Thank you Shuna! I had been looking online but didn't really know who to trust for this endeavor. It seems a lot of cake to make, and not ever having made so much batter, didn't know I could simply make several cakes from this recipe, as opposed to one giant. So many thanks- I'll post the outcome!
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