Cast Iron

Gingerbread for Emily

November  8, 2010
0 Ratings
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

Recently I came across Emily Dickinson's gingerbread recipe with notes about all the food gifts that she made to friends. As a resident of Amherst I would have loved to have made her gingerbread. Adapting her recipe, I would give her this version. —Sagegreen

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup or half a gill of butter
  • 1/4 cup or half a gill of heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup or half a gill of molasses
  • 1.5 ounces honey
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • butter for pan
  • 1 pared pear, sliced
  • handful of toasted pecans dipped in molasses with a few drops of maple syrup
  • handful of sugared fresh cranberries or dried
  • 1 egg white, whisked
  • sprinkle of sugar, demerara suggested
  • whipped cream or ginger ice cream for garnish
  • fresh herbal sprig, mint or lavender
  1. Sift the dry ingredients together.
  2. Cream the butter. Lightly whip the cream. Combine these two. Fold in the molasses, honey and syrup. Add the ginger. Mix in with the dry ingredients to form a dough.
  3. Butter a baking dish, preferably oval, preferably cast iron. Press the dough into a dish (about 12 inches long or so) between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick. You can also use cast iron muffin pans for somewhat cookie-like results (cooking time may be shorter this way).
  4. Slice the pared pear into thin lengths. Press into the top of the dough. Arrange the toasted pecans and cranberries in the center.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Then remove quickly to paint a light glaze of egg white evenly on top. Sprinkle with sugar. Return to bake for 5-10 more minutes until golden brown and cooked through inside (use the toothpick test).
  6. Cool, then plate. Add whipped, or ice cream, and an herbal garnish, savoring over a cup of tea as you read Emily's "Final Harvest."

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • mrslarkin
  • TiggyBee
  • Sagegreen

7 Reviews

mrslarkin November 8, 2010
Lovely! Our local library hosted a small theatre group a few years ago. They put on a short play about a day in the life of E.D. Refreshments were served after the performance, and a version of her "Black Cake" was there, too. The recipe was available, which I took a copy of, but its quantities were massive, so I never made it. Thanks for creating this, Sagegreen!
Sagegreen November 8, 2010
Thanks, mrslarkin. Her original gingerbread recipe calls for a "quart" of flour and what appears to be a full cup of molasses!
Sagegreen November 8, 2010
Oh yes, Black Cake with the 19 eggs and 2 pounds of flour! Even her Federal Cake has 10 cups of flour! I cut the gingerbread down, increased the ginger, decreased the molasses, but kept the soda the same, and of course added maple syrup, honey, pears, cranberries and pecans.
TiggyBee November 8, 2010
oops...cripes...what's the deal here? ; )
TiggyBee November 8, 2010
TiggyBee November 8, 2010
How fun is this? I love Emily Dickenson and this recipe!!
Sagegreen November 8, 2010
Thanks! She lowered gingerbread in a basket from her second story bedroom window to neighborhood children even when she became a recluse! I love Emily!