I saw this article in the NYTimes and thought you might like to read it. It seems our dear Emily was not only composing poems about bees but she was also making good work of their honey! Here's the article and a coveted recipe, as far as I'm concerned:
Emily Dickinson, Sweet GeniusBy JEFF GORDINIER
Amherst College LibraryWhatever you happen to think about when you think about Emily Dickinson, it’s probably unlikely that what first leaps to mind is an image of the Belle of Amherst stuffing her face with cake.
In the public imagination, at least, this spectral titan of American poetry comes across as a figure of austerity, mystery, luminosity, seclusion. Somehow it’s hard to envision her even eating a meal, let alone taking delectable pleasure from it.
But as with many things about her, the truth is richer and more fascinating than the cliché. Emily Dickinson, it turns out, was totally into baking.
In fact, at a reception on Thursday evening in Battery Park City, New Yorkers will get to sample a slice of one of her favorite treats. Manuscripts, letters and fragments from the poet’s life are going on display at the Poets House, many for the first time, and among them is her handwritten, bare-bones recipe for coconut cake, which a local poetry collector and avid baker named Carolyn Smith is conjuring up for the event.
Ms. Smith has made six of the cakes, which she baked at 350 degrees for a little over an hour. Admittedly, she didn’t have a whole lot of data to go on; the recipe itself is really just a list of ingredients: 1 cup coconut, 2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup milk, 2 eggs, 1/2 teaspoon soda and 1 teaspoon cream of tartar.
President and Fellows of Harvard College Emily Dickinson's Coconut Cake Recipe.“It looked like it was probably similar to a pound cake, so I treated it like a pound cake,” Ms. Smith, 69, said on the phone. “It’s a very dense cake, and it’s not too cloyingly sweet, which is nice.”Just hearing about that coconut cake leads to a fresh perspective on how Emily Dickinson lived and worked. Pay a visit to the Web site of the The Emily Dickinson Museum, and you’ll learn that the poet seemed to do a lot of her writing and thinking in the kitchen, even at one point scrawling stray lines of verse on a wrapper of Parisian baking chocolate.
“Emily Dickinson was known as quite an accomplished baker,” said Alexandra Mann, the publicity and marketing coordinator for Poets House. “She won a competition for her rye bread and was known to have often sent baked goods to friends and family for all sorts of occasions. In fact, some of the letters on view in this exhibition were sent along with baked delicacies that she made.”
Could it be? Did this woman whom we’ve been led to think of as a prim ascetic actually have a vibrant epicurean streak? “The tradition was that she and her friends would dip the coconut cake into a little sherry,” Ms. Smith said. “So that’s what we’re doing tomorrow night.”
I don't know what you'll be doing this weekend, but I can tell you that I'll be attempting to make Miss Dickinson's Coconut Cake, and I'll be dipping into as fine a sherry as I can purchase. Or, as fine as I can send my Hub to purchase, as the case may be!
And, I'll be reading her poetry.