Emily Dickinson's Coconut Cake

"Hope" is the thing with feathers
"Hope" is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—  

I've heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.
Today is Emily Dickinson’s birthday. Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was an American poet born in Amherst, Massachusetts on December 10, 1830.
I fell in love with Emily Dickinson when I opted for American Literature in my post graduation. I found her poems very touching, very deep in meaning, dealing with themes of death and immortality. There was some kind of instead connect with her poems. Of all her poems that I read, I loved “Hope” and “success” and these remain my favourite poems till date.
 My thirst to know more about Emily took me to many sites with great information about her life, family and influences in her writing. During one such meanderings, I came across The history kitchen, an amazing website dedicated to a deeper exploration of food, history and culture. Tory Avi, who explores culinary anthropology and the story behind the food, was able to track down one of Emily Dickinson’s actual recipes, a Coconut Cake. If it was not for her site, I would have never known Emily Dickinson’s lesser known passion for cooking and baking and the lovely recipe of her coconut cake.  

On her birthday today, I decided to bake her Coconut Cake and celebrate the life of this brilliant American poet.

Emily Dickinson’s Cocoanut Cake (as Emily spelled it)
Adapted from The history kitchen
This is how I made Emily Dickinson’s Coconut cake
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar (powdered)
1 cup shredded coconut (fresh)
2 eggs
½ cup butter at room temperature
½ cup milk
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 165 degrees C. Grease and line a 9x5 inch pan.
Whisk together flour and baking powder.
Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs one at a time. Add milk and mix well.
Add flour in three shifts till just incorporated. Do not over mix.
Fold in shredded coconut.
Pour the batter in the prepared pan. Level with a spoon.
Bake for 50-55 minutes till the top turns golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

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  1. such a beautfiul looking cake... love the flavors.. thanks for sharing...

  2. Hi Namita, That is a very nice tribute to Emily! She would be proud of u for the perfectly baked cake that you have put up here! Lovely and healthy cake loaf, should be delicious with a cup of tea!

  3. What a wonderful (historical) recipe. I wonder if using coconut milk in the recipe would enhance it? Might have to try :). Cheers for sharing the recipe and the site Namita :)

  4. Hello Fran,
    I am sure that coconut milk will surely enhance the flavour. Will definitely try out! Thanks.

  5. you have got a lovely space here.Glad to have found it.

  6. Hi mam...Tried the cake..just came out of the oven...wish i cud share the pic with you...will be tasted tomorrow...happy Janamashtami

    1. Hello Avni, Thank you for Janamashtami wishes and wish you the same. I am sure that your cake will taste heavenly. Do let me know. I shall wait for your feedback.

  7. Can't use egg...any other option

    1. Hello Neha, use 1/2 cup thick yogurt in place of eggs. Happy Baking!

    2. Hello Neha, use 1/2 cup thick yogurt in place of eggs. Happy Baking!

  8. Hi, can i use dessicated coconut instead?

    1. You may use dessicated coconut. But it will not give the same flavour and texture as fresh coconut.