Friday, 31 August 2012

the apple of my tart (for James), by Katy Acheson

you weaved a lattice of pastry over my heart
that matches the patterns on your sweater vest
you flavoured a tart with love and affection,
with confection and roses and attention to detail
you seduced us all with lavender and caramel
and just like that, you became the apple of my tart

Making Chicken Liver Pâté for Three by Max Wallis

[A note from the Editors: we've bent the rules a little for this tasty poem, since what could go better with some Chicken Liver Pâté than some freshly prepared melba toast)

Chopped up livers never looked appetising
yet here I am cutting them into chunks
to sauté with some butter. Sort of like how
the idea of a relationship split three ways
could never work. High risk/high gain,
this notion of liver toxicity. 

Four cloves of garlic, crushed; snipped chives;
two sploshes of Armagnac; a dollop of Lurpak light 
and an onion all fried together with chillis and ground up 
mustard seeds and browned liver. Wait until
they are cooked through and blend to a smooth paste. 
It tastes better than the conventional muck. 
Just like we all did. Who knew love 
was not like a heart, but a liver:
three distinct zones. 

Max's first collection Modern Love is shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize 2012. You can read more of Max's work on his blog somethingeveryday.  


The Trouble With Proustian Recollection by A.F. Harrold

Oh, Marcel, you got it right, that memory business.
It was Tuesday and I was in the tea shop in town,
a clear cup of the Earl curling steam into the air,
a seed cake, caraway, staring up at me from a plate.

I’d made cakes like that myself, when younger,
watched the striped seeds swim round the bowl,
switch and swirl in the flour, in the old grey kitchen,
but somewhere on the way to today, I’d forgotten.

I balanced a crumbled corner of cake in the spoon,
dipped it and watched the elixir creep crumb by crumb
up the crumbs before I lifted it, smelt the petal scent
and bit down on one liquorish burst of caraway, and…

I was flung back, all the way to that Combray summer
when aunt Léonie shared her thin tisane with me –
lime-blossom in the old grey house, the sunlight… but,
oh, Marcel! It’s happened again: I’m remembering you.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Gauge the amber tones (for John, a star baker) by Rishi Dastidar

Making caramel is a tricky thing,
especially gauging the amber tones.
Sugar, hot water, watching them sing.
Making caramel is a tricky thing.
Apple juice, cinnamon, might make it zing –
but it could take five or six goes.
Making caramel is a tricky thing,
especially gauging the amber tones.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Misunderstanding by Porky The Poet

He laid the box before her
Unloaded each component
Smiled with his achievement
And ordered them with pride

"There's plain and there's self raising
In types both weak and strong,
Wholemeal and organic
(Which doesn't keep so long)

There's walnut, rye and cornflour,
Almond, rice and spelt,
Chickpea known as 'besan'
And arrowroot as well!

I got some malted wheatgrain
Not to mention good old 'brown'
Peasemeal and Casava
You can really go to town!

Potato, hemp and sorghum
Tapioca too
I bought them all for you!"

She shook her head and left that day
It only took two hours
And her note read;

"What I said was
You don't bring me flowers"

Porky The Poet has just finished performing his show 27 Years On at the Edinburgh Fringe.

I Like Cake by Katy Lanceley

I like cake,
but I cannot bake.
I buy it or it’s given,
In a box, wrapped in ribbon.
Make no mistake,
I like cake.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Nigella's Pancakes by Alex Bell

The morning after
is no time for sifting flour.
Heaved from the sack, it thuds
and scatters on the bowl's round base.
The egg drops yellow
and the whisk turns milk
in torrents through the slipping peaks.
Later, flung on molten butter
pale imperfect circles
quietly erupt in bubbles
and I turn them out in hot heaps
with bacon, maple, salt and sweet
and needed. Eat with industry.
The kitchen battered utterly.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Vagrants Spray Tan Day by Sophie Herxheimer

Samantha and Amanda at a caravan party
Samantha’s bandana has a smart mandala charm
Amanda’s vast lacy bra and pants attract a madman attack;
damn, blast, rats. Alas Alack!
Swap sagas fancy strappy sandal gals-
Samantha: rant aghast at that bad man, (what a cad.)
Amanda: chant mantras, facts; draw, pray (draw all day?)
Ha ha, what a drama, what a plan. Abracadabra!
Pals can shaft a crap daft day; act calm, dash away-
Stay? Gas, chat, talk and talk, blah, blah, blah,
(baklava, tart, nata, any pastry snacks, what larks,
Madam A and Madam S: rat a tat tat at a handy caff.)
That’s always a fab lardy way. That’s class.

Little Nora (a translation of 'A Nóra bheag') by Pascal O'Loughlin

O little Nora where were you last night?
Says I to my beautiful darling.
I was out the back by the well, says she,
Learning a new jig and a reel.

O Nora, my darling little one,
You are my shimmering star.
O Nora, my darling lovely child,
I need you more than I can bear.

But Nora loves to eat fat beans
and Nora loves her brandy
and Nora loves her roasty spuds
with plenty of melted butter.

If you will be my love, says I,
I’ll give you cakes and biscuits.
I’ll give you a cloak of golden threads
And beautiful songs and music.

O Nora, my darling little one,
You are my shimmering star.
O Nora, my darling lovely child,
I need you more than I can bear.

But Nora loves to eat fat beans
and Nora loves her brandy
and Nora loves her roasty spuds
with plenty of melted butter.

O little Nora, where were you last night?
I was out in the back with a stranger.
But who was this lad with his pipe and his bag
and him playing so forcefully?

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Love by Hidden Design Cake

First date and walnut
Gown of red velvet
It all went upside down

Slice of depression

Alone in the black forest
All covered in mud

Near death by chocolate
Talking to an angel
Tea and sympathy

Devil ate all the food
No wedding or novelty
So many flowerless tiers

Hidden Design Cake is a cake, who writes poetry and attends afternoon tea parties. People often tap Hidden Design Cake's bottom and say "you're a good bake."

Michael Rosen's Chocolate Cake

Here's a lovely video of Michael Rosen perfoming his poem 'Chocolate Cake' to inspire you to get baking this weekend.

Charlotte and I challenge you to cook up some Great British Bard-off themed delights this weekend in either cake, pie, bun or poem form!

Email your offerings to 

Friday, 24 August 2012

Philosophy of Cake by David Clarke

So, Plato reckoned all cake
the image of cake’s idea –
the ur-cake, cake’s essence was echoed
in every humble sponge, each fancy

eased from milky parchment,
and in all those ramparts of mid-
European kirsch and cream,
the balls of choux spritzed fat

with crème patissière. And so
I slice and bite again and again
in hope of tasting what cake is
in truth, the sweetness of that truth,

its give and clag between the teeth,
but find my hunger still unstilled,
my ideal portion yet unserved.

David Clarke's pamphlet Gaud is available from Flarestack Poets. He blogs at

One of Nanna’s by Josephine Corcoran

Always by the hot heart of the house,
when I kissed her, flour rose from her hair.
Told recipes like stories: “When the missus’d gone out,
butter, sugar, eggs, flour  twenty cakes as quick as you like.

Then! Doily dainty footsteps down the tradesmen's stairs.
Stern as a swan, she was, her long neck in all the servants’ business,
pearls and all, she swept in, casting round for mixing bowl, spoon and sieve.
Theft is what she called it. I threw the baking tin behind some cushions.”

If I’m honest her skin was rough, her fingers scarlet-raw. 
She’d worked her way up from scullery maid to Cook. 
It was the budgerigar who told tales, she said; whistled “Burnee bottee,
Missus! Burnee bottee!” from its cage. One of my favourites.

Never questioned the linguistic talents of birds.
Never got my cakes to rise as plump and sweet as hers.

Josephine Corcoran won The Stafford Poetry Competition 2012.  Her poetry blog is And Other Poems.

Bread Cthulhu by Claire Trévien

Craving the rustic?
Brush up on the bakers’ backgrounds.
Learn their signature

Who’s watching? I am a regular.
John’s cake has a pink heart in every slice.
He’d make
a lovely boyfriend.

I make a mean
upside-down, but I need time to rise
at the turning-out.

Claire Trévien's most recent collection is Low Tide Lottery. You can read more about Claire's work on her website.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

As I Lay Frying

The Great British Bard-off feels some kinship for Dough Country from Old Men

Who doesn't like dose of literary tonic with their doughnut?

Knead some inspiration? Episode Two of The Great British Bake-off

Watch this week's episode where the contestants try their hands at bread making!

Mix together some words, flour your worksurface (try to avoid your notebook and laptop), roll out your dough, prove and bake, then send your Bard-off efforts to

Freshly-baked Scones by Cliff Yates

She places the scones in the middle of the table,
smooths the tablecloth with shaking hands
and begins to pour, gripping the teapot
with both hands, perilously close to tipping
the lot down the front of her furs.

The freshly-baked scones, dripping with butter,
waiting for jam and cream, smell delicious
as the wind howls through the conservatory,
melting snow thuds on the roof and the cries
of the beleagured traveller echo from the mountain.

She pours tea onto lumps of frozen milk
as we try not to stare at the scones,
as we sweat in our suits, glance nervously
into each other’s faces, avoid speaking,
rearrange our spoons and forks and listen
to our stomachs growl under our white
starched shirts and immaculate bow-ties.

Cliff Yates' most recent collection is Frank Freeman's Dancing School (Salt Publishing). 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Inspiration/challenge snip

How about getting 'nice action' in a poem?

Watch last night's episode for some more inspiration! Keep baking those poems!

Fruits Are Filling by Erik Kennedy

Stupid me, a jack in the bogs,
the man who tried to woo his fruits!
Dull and numb I was, and null and dumb they became.
Nothing grows in Lyndhurst. Who knows why?

Every berry heard my merry-andrew monologues,
and all they did was burst,
in the heat, or under my boots. Always the same.
Now all the fruits are picked. I put them in a pie.

Havisham Heart by Simon Barraclough

Trouble the dark
and turn me about,
bones under foot.

Orbit the wreck,
the cobwebby sag
of nibbled years

where the mice burrow in
and the spiders rush out,
like the blood used to flow.

Bat dust from the plates,
draw the chair to your place,
take the knife and set to.

This poem is taken from Simon's second collection 'Neptune Blue' published by Salt. You can read more on Simon's website.

An Offering by Jody Porter

Nothing is too sweet.
Not the bombs of sugar in my tea.
Not the heaven-woven cotton by the sea.
Not the laugh of far-off death,
or the ever thinking we might be.

Nothing is too sweet -
so bring upon my house your madeleines,
your croquembouche and Genoese.

I’ll refuse no sweetnesses from thee.

Jody Porter is Poetry Editor for the Morning Star. He blogs here and tweets here.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Soggy Bottom by Rishi Dastidar

Entering the kitchen with an Ocado haze,
a Nigella recipe and the best intentions,
I adopt a determined culinary gaze
to begin the creation of this confection.
Sugar, flour play nicely; a flick of the whisk;
eggs slop in easily – this is all low risk.
My mix is smoother than a seducer’s patter.
Time to introduce tin to Mr Handsome Batter.
Fruit touches on top, and oven on –
but it’s while twirling the piping bag
Berry’s baking conscience starts to nag.
I look. A collapse. Cake gone wrong.
All I’m left with is wreckage, a soggy bottom.
Domestic God status? File under forgotten.

Sweet Dumplings by Alison Winch

She presses her belly against the hob
and drops balls of broken dough,
strung out and held in nets. The water is furious.
She watches so they don’t turn sad,
so they swell to rhizomes,
and then she lets them sit, tied up and resting.

Upstairs, she searches for a silky
thing of bone
to make a waist; she hooks and knots,
she holds her breath, lifts her ribs,
creates a shape, and pulls –
the figure stays: bait.

She stands to eat the dumplings
steamed to diamonds. Her silhouette shifts and digs.