Amherst College, Flickr // Public Domain
Amherst College, Flickr // Public Domain

Bake Like a Literary Hero With 3 Recipes From Emily Dickinson

Amherst College, Flickr // Public Domain
Amherst College, Flickr // Public Domain

Poetry wasn’t Emily Dickinson’s only talent. She was also an incredibly talented baker who boasted that hers was the only bread her father would deign to eat. Writer Emily Temple gathered some of the poetry legend’s personal recipes at Lit Hub, and they’re some of the more delicious-sounding historical recipes we’ve come across. At least, as long as you’re willing to crack 19 eggs into a single cake.

Many of Dickinson’s papers are held at Amherst College and Harvard University, and there are handwritten recipes mixed in with the poetry drafts and letters. Unfortunately for us, Emily was a talented enough baker that for many recipes she didn’t need to write down instructions (or even the full quantity of certain ingredients), so 21st-century amateur bakers will just have to muddle through on their own.


Handwritten pages detailing Emily Dickinson's doughnut recipe
Amherst College

Who is Kate? We don’t know. But she seems to have had good taste in breakfast pastries.


1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 ct. yeast
1/2 nutmeg
2 cups milk


Handwritten pages of a recipe and a poem by Emily Dickinson
Amherst College

She didn’t write the directions for these coconut cookies down, but Dickinson did write a poem. The recipe currently held at Amherst College, labeled as "Mrs. Carmichael's," shares a page with a copy of her poem “The Things that never can come back, are several.” Dickinson seems to have liked coconut quite a bit—she also has a coconut cake recipe in her papers. (In this particular recipe, she may be using the dash marks in the image above as ditto marks to indicate pounds, but it's unclear, since she used dashes quite liberally in her other recipes.)

1 pound sugar
1/2 — butter
1/2 — flour
6 eggs
1 grated coconut


A handwritten recipe for black cake
Houghton Library, Harvard University

In 2016, several Harvard librarians took home a prize at the Association of Research Libraries’s first film festival for their video about trying to make Emily Dickinson’s famous black cake. The monstrous recipe ended up making a full 20 pounds of batter. Before you try this one, just know: Like a fruitcake, this cake requires three months of aging in a brandy-soaked cloth before it’s ready to eat.


2 pounds flour
2 sugar
2 butter
19 eggs
5 pounds raisins
1½ currants
1½ citron
1/2 pint brandy
1/2 molasses
2 nutmegs
5 teaspoons cloves—mace—cinnamon
2 teaspoons soda

Handwritten directions for baking black cake
Houghton Library, Harvard University


Beat butter and sugar together
Add eggs without beating and beat the mixture again
Bake 2½ or three hours, in cake pans, or 5 to 6 hours in milk pan, if full

See more Dickinson recipes at Lit Hub.

The First-Ever Troop of Homeless Girl Scouts Just Crushed Their Cookie Sales Goal

Selling 32,500 boxes of cookies in a single week would be noteworthy for any team of Girl Scouts, but it's an especially sweet achievement for Troop 6000: The New York City-based chapter is the first-ever Girl Scout troop composed entirely of children living in homeless shelters.

According to NBC News, this season marked the first time the troop took part in the organization's annual cookie sale tradition. In early April, they received exclusive permission to set up shop inside the Kellogg's Café in Union Square. They kicked off their inaugural stand sale aiming to sell at least 6000 boxes of cookies: At the end of six days, they had sold more than 32,500.

Some customers waited in line an hour to purchase boxes from the history-making young women. Others gave their money directly to the troop, collectively donating over $15,000 to fund trips and activities. After purchasing their cookies, customers could also buy special Girl Scout cookie-inspired menu items from the Kellogg's store, with all proceeds going to Troop 6000.

The troop formed in 2016 as a collaboration between the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, Mayor de Blasio, and the city Department of Homeless Services. Meetings are held in shelters across the city, and many of the troop leaders, often mothers of the scouts, are homeless women themselves. About 40 percent of New York's homeless population are children, and Troop 6000 had to expand last summer to accommodate a flood of new recruits. Today, there are about 300 girls enrolled in the program.

[h/t NBC News]

Pop Culture
Solve a Murder Mystery (and Eat Cheesecake) with The Golden Girls

Something is rotten in the city of Miami. A murder has been committed—and nobody knows who’s behind the dastardly crime. The police are likely no match for the killer, so it’s up to the Golden Girls characters to combine their wits (over cheesecake, of course) to crack the case. But they can’t do it without your help.

That’s right: Peddler’s Village, a quaint shopping village in Lahaska, Pennsylvania, is now offering a Golden Girls Murder Mystery dinner and show every Friday and Saturday night through August 25, 2018. The whodunit takes place at Peddler's Pub at the Cock 'n Bull Restaurant, at 7 p.m.

While the major plot details have been kept under wraps (it is a murder mystery, after all), we do know that Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia have "invited a couple of well known detectives to join the party and discuss their famous capers." And given that the show is titled "The Golden Girls: The Curse of Jessica Fletcher," we can only guess (and hope) that an amateur sleuth from Cabot Cove, Maine will be making an appearance.

It's not the first time Peddler's Pub has hosted the gals from Miami; the current show is a sequel of sorts to the original Golden Girls Murder Mystery that Peddler's Pub put on back in 2016. Fun fact: Mental Floss Editor-in-Chief Erin McCarthy beat out a room full of other Betty White sangria-drinking armchair detectives to correctly solve the mystery during its original run. (She has the mug to prove it.)

Tickets are $69.95 per person, and you can make a reservation (which is required) by calling 215-794-4051. As for what you'll be dining on: You can scope out the menu online (and yes, the Girls’ favorite dessert is involved).


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