Friday, September 4, 2009

Advice on Black Cake, and a Poem about it

Googling around the internet found much advice about making the famous Black Cake. Apparently Nigella Lawson put it in one of her cookbooks. Madeira can be substituted for the Manischewitz, so I guess my Gewurztraminer will be fine. There are several approaches to the fruit, and I am considering adding a bit of preserved ginger to my macaw pot. I fear I may have used too little alcoholic liquid; that's another thing I'll need to research more.

Most interesting, though, was a blog about Emily Dickinson, who it seems was a great baker and was famous for her Black Cake. A professor at UC Davis wrote this poem about it:

by Sandra M. Gilbert

Black cake, black Uncle Emily cake,
I tunnel among your grains of darkness
fierce as a mouse: your riches
are all my purpose, your currants and death's eye raisins
wrinkling and thickening blackness,
and the single almond of light she buried
somewhere under layers of shadow . . .

One day I too will be Uncle Sandra:
iambic and terse. I'll hobble the tough sidewalks,
the alleys that moan go on, go on.
O when I reach those late-night streets,
when acorns and twigs
litter my path like sentences
the oaks no longer choose to say,

I want that cake in my wallet.
I want to nibble as I hobble.
I want to smile and nibble
that infinite black cake,
                       and lean
on Uncle Emily's salt-white
ice-bright sugar cane.

~ from Kissing the Bread: New and Selected Poems, 1969-1999 (W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 2001

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