Recipes

Coconut Cake

One of the most famous ties between writing and food and the inspiration for this blog in general is Emily Dickinson’s poem, “The things that never can come back are several,” which was written on the back of her recipe for coconut cake. The poem itself doesn’t mention the recipe, but many of her drafts were written on the back of grocery lists or scraps of paper found in her kitchen. This leads the readers to wonder whether the recipe served as the inspiration for the writing, or the other way around. Either way, the poem’s impact is lasting and the added elements of smell and taste allow you to experience her writing in a whole new way. Whether she intended them to be connected or not we can never know, but it can’t hurt to experiment.

The Poem

The Things that never can come back, are several —
Childhood — some forms of Hope — the Dead —
Though Joys — like Men — may sometimes make a Journey —
And still abide —
We do not mourn for Traveler, or Sailor,
Their Routes are fair —
But think enlarged of all that they will tell us
Returning here —
“Here!” There are typic “Heres” —
Foretold Locations —
The Spirit does not stand —
Himself — at whatsoever Fathom
His Native Land —

The Recipe

Dickinson’s handwritten note includes the following:

1 cup cocoanut
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoonful soda
1 teaspoonful cream of tartar

This makes one half the rule–

She doesn’t list any further instructions, or even finish her idea of the other half of “the rule,” so here is a more complete list of ingredients and instructional guide:

Ingredients:

5 eggs, separated
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2-1/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flaked coconut, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Frosting:

2 packages (one 8 ounces, one 3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup butter, softened
4-1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1-1/4 teaspoons coconut extract
2 cups flaked coconut, toasted

Directions:

  1. Place egg whites in a large bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 325°. In another large bowl, beat sugar, butter and oil until well blended. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extracts.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Stir in coconut.
    Add cream of tartar to egg whites; with clean beaters, beat on medium until stiff peaks form. Fold a fourth of the egg whites into batter, then fold in remaining whites.
  4. Transfer to three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  5. For frosting, in a small bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar and extract; beat until smooth.
  6. Place one cake layer on a serving plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting and sprinkle with 1/3 cup coconut. Repeat. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake; sprinkle with remaining coconut. Refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting. Store in the refrigerator

Recipe from here

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One thought on “Coconut Cake

  1. I really like the way you are integrating two different themes into one with your website! I personally love poetry and cooking and I agree that they have common themes. When writing and cooking you are working hard to find the right elements to create the best final product.

    Liked by 1 person

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