Thursday, 27 September 2012

Layer Cake by Tiffany Anne Tondut

alexandra pal
ace crumbling
on its upturned
bowl of green
& golden
its burns to think
how we first kissed
up here when she
was just a side
dish so i hear that
shes your lover
now u tell me how
youve moved into
a house so soon
well sugar i dont need
to know or hear
why it never was
us two ‘cause some
times lovers never jam
oh now youve got
engaged to her?
thats news to me i lost
my new fur stole
btw it must have
slipped from off
my arm was stolen
by some sponger
on the street no
doubt some lady
tramp wrapped up
in my molasses
well if anything
i’ve learned that
nothing tastes
so tart as sweetness
lost so bitter quick
- its not the thing
you lose that hurts
its shitting
what youve savoured
& wont ever taste again.

Tiffany Anne Tondut has recently published her e-chap book The God of Love is Stained with Silkworms Ink. She likes her cakes hard-boiled, noir, with a tender twist.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Obsession by Helen Lederer

A cake once seen in shadows thrown
By sunlight on my counter clean,
Was ‘disappeared’ by hands unknown
And taken to a foreign scene.
No larder this, or biscuit tin
Played host to baked and loved up carbs,
Instead some hands of spite and sin
Did take my cake to other parts.
I saw the man, whose mouth of crumbs
Did prove his pleasure at my cake,
And I with fingers and two thumbs
Did shame this cake thief with a shake,
Instead of shame the cake thief shouted
‘Am off the diet – I am delighted.’

Helen Lederer is an actress, comedian and writer. She's possibly best known for her role as the dippy Catriona in the absolutely fabulous Absolutely Fabulous.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

From Beyond the Cake by Jude Cowan Montague

Genoa Cake: No, do you?
He copied jokes and doodled
beside his wife’s recipes.
Marjorie and their children
popped up on the bottom
of shopping lists, butter,
tea, sugar and half an eye,
(page torn here)
enhancing instructions
with not quite half a pint
of the departed.

Macaroon Tartlets,
Paisley Jam Sandwich No. 2 for 8 persons,
Fereneze Cakes, time 1 hr,
Bristol and Cocoanut Cake.
In a mottled cutting,
folded, brittle as brandy snaps,
flattened in the front of her book,
a second recipe lurks,
from a talk by Miss Guy
(another Marjorie) on August 20 (193?),
for Manchester Macaroon Tartlets.

Jude Cowan Montague's 'For the Messengers' is on Donut Press and a forthcoming collection 'The Groodoyals of Terre Rouge' will be on Dark Windows Press.

I Feel Like Cake by Elli Woollard

Sit down, don’t frown, yes – over here
You say you feel like cake, my dear?
You look a bit like cake as well
(A doc like me can always tell)
But don’t be sad, don’t look so worried
Diagnoses can’t be hurried
Let’s do some tests, let’s not be hasty
(Mmmm, your head is rather tasty)
What was that? You yelped? You cried?
(Lots of sticky jam inside!)
A muffled scream inside my tum?
(Sugar sprinkles, yum, yum, yum)
Now one last thing – just test these legs
Yes, yes, the chef did whisk those eggs
I’m right; there can be no mistake
A simple case of ‘felt like cake’

You can read more of Elli's work here

Friday, 21 September 2012

Make or Bake! by JT Welsch

These shows remind me
why I don’t cook.
Ah, nor do I make my own clothes.
The plumber’s here, singing
to the toilet. Now how
about a pie shaped like a toilet?
It’s like my piano teacher
used to say, (as if I didn’t know):
some people are born
to play the piano,
others to move them.
Which one invented cooking?
Was it like Eden, and we
had to distinguish ourselves?
Oh, but it’s so relaxing.
What do you have to worry about?
Soon, robots will free us
for higher pursuits.
There can be a show
with robot chefs, judged by robots,
loved by robots everywhere.
And you can relax,
knowing they’re there,
these tasks a foreign country.

JT Welsch is a lecturer at York St John University. His most recent collection is Waterloo.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

A Portrait of the Artist with a Tea Treat Bun by John Canfield

on a St. Ives beach, circa eighty-two.

The palette used for conjuring this scene
is rain washed vermilion for the bathing hut,

trawler boat blue for the wind-whipped cagoule
and the sand is anaemic as egg timer grain.

But there in the centre, firmly clasped
between two hands, a bun the size

of a small boy’s head emits a seemingly
radioactive glow of saffron,

lurid yellow that emanates
like the Christ child’s halo in devotionals

or the fulgent beam of a Davy Lamp.
Then, bored into this bright yeast wall

are currants as black as Wesley’s gown
and as large and round as the fifteen besants  

on Kernow’s crest, an inversion of
the black and gold above Onen Hag Oll,

and encased in a shell that subtly shifts
with the light, like a gemstone, from copper to bronze.

Sunday brought grape juice and communion cubed bread
but on this day the taste of Methodism was good.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Forgetting of Things Past by Emily Hasler

It was two days before my 27th birthday
when I had my first madeleine.
I had gulleted half before I realised
what it was; a sponge-shaped symbol
that I had yet to eat, yet had now ate.
I suppose I do not know if it was
a good or bad madeleine – apologies
to my host – but it deserved more
attention than I gave it and better
antecedents than those multi-pack
lunchbox fillers that fluff recalled,
which were all I could recall, are all
I can now recall. The mouth stuffed.
The contracted throat, narrowing like years
and flavours until I am not so sure
I did not – never? – ate this cake before.
Ever! Not sure we are not eating always
the same cake – iced again and re-trayed,
candles just traces of wax in hollow party hats.
Any old conch held so to your ear makes
a sound near enough like the sea. Near
enough. Shush. Eat up! My first madeleine?
It was two days before my 27th birthday. 

Emily Hasler's collection Natural Histories is published by Salt. 

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Licking the Bowl by Sophia Blackwell

First of all, you need to get in there.
Put your back into it, every ounce
Of your mercifully unmeasured eight-year-old weight.
Someone else tied your apron, but
That doesn’t really matter. You’re the master
Of your afternoon estate. Yes, they said,
For tea, for a bit of peace, yes. Make another cake.

You need to cream it till it’s white and fluffy,
Your wrist the flexless neck of your hated violin.
You need your butter-thumbed Be-Ro baking book
Although you know your sponge cake like Hail Mary.
It’s a good-luck charm, that marked page. It’s safe,
The section for each cake the size of a psalm.

You need to sneak a bit of the crystal-blitzed mix,
Savour the salt of Stork against the sweet.
Your tongue leaves oily marblings on the spoon.

You need to leave a siege to show you’ve worked.
The sink banked up with carbon-dated layers
Awash in oily water. At this point
You’re losing interest, watching your creation
Borne to the humming oven by bigger hands.

You need to watch the clock till it comes out
And wonder- pointlessly, always- about this loss,
How it must end like this, and if it should,
Cool, gritty cream yielding to sponge and crust,
Your scraped bowl dully glinting like old treasure,
Your hunger blunt, and your unspoken doubt
That nothing- nowhere- will ever taste this good.

Sophia Blackwell is a performance poet and author. Her first novel,
After My Own Heart, was published earlier this year by Limehouse

Saturday, 15 September 2012

A poem by Emma Hammond

my funny yellow fellow
slanty eyes astray
as you walk through the ashtray
with special fingers
burning creating fiddling
my heart in mouth
full of chicky pie
apocryphal desire
i will miss
your beanstalkliness
when you came around
and round
walking down milsom st
in the raining rain
past incense and mobiles
the crippled flautist
we smiled
at the pretty girls
oh you girl pink friend
together we meander
two dead bodies floating downstream
and you never yap yap yap
you always conquer

Emma Hammond's latest book is tunth-sk. She blogs here.

A Circle of Seams by Claire Trévien

The bowl’s had its eyes closed for two hours
but we bustle around it
raid the fridge for spoils
filch the brut cider out of its box
aim its knuckle at the ceiling and spill
ourselves around the table.

We take it in turns to lather a breath
of buckwheat on the buttered bilig
laugh at the slits where the rosel failed
to needle the lace into a perfect circle of seams.

From my fist tumbles a pocketful of myrtles
to be thoroughly scorched, or not at all.

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

Friday, 14 September 2012

Sonnet Review: The Great British Bake Off, BBC Two, Tuesday 4 September, by Simon Moore

So Stuart goes, as expected since week one,
From the imprecision of his Union Flag on,
He never seemed as up to speed as John,
Danny or Brendan, as he went along
Becoming ever more prone to disaster,
The limp bake, the missing taste, careless,
Till Berry flipped her terrible temper
At the death, quiet scorn heaped on meringue mess.
It crept: the fear of an ‘X-Factor’ freak,
The Wagner dragged through for ridicule;
Had unsavoury talent-show tics leached
To sour this gentlest of the genre, to Fool
The man? Victoria went, I feared the worst,

Simon Moore writes Sonnet Reviews (, the world's leading 14 line rhyming review portal.

Editors' note: There's been a slight delay in getting this poem online, but it's still nice to reminisce about Bake-Off episodes past. Ah, remember that Union Flag cake gone wrong?

How do I love thee? by S Crooks

How do I love thee? Let me count the pastries.
I love thee to the millilitre and kilo and ounce my measuring scales can reach, when feeling a bit peckish.
For the ends of the shortbread supply and brownie tin.
I love thee to the level of a heaped tablespoon, or filled cup.
I love thee fervently as women crave chocolate,
I love thee softly as men sift flour,
I love thee with a passion for all things baking,
In my tentative showstoppers and childhood favourites,
I love thee with a zeal for pastry lattices and lemon and ginger millefeuilles. 

I love thee with mini rhubarb cheescakes and freshly grated nutmeg, and if we so choose,
I shall but love thee better after dessert time. 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Cooking With Marilyn by Angela Readman

And then I catch you, baking after midnight again,
mushrooming flour a nuclear cloud in your hair.

Elbow deep, you dive into a chipped bowl
to try on useful hands, fingertips dusted for prints
of mothers all over America making dinner
from the leftovers of their dreams.

There are so many snowmen you haven’t made,
standing on the hillsides of imagined lives women
in floral aprons salt away. This is it, this is the loaf
to save our lives, the one to show me how a wife looks.

Sweat on your lip, the condensation of a smile, you grab,
release, clutch and let go. Tongue in teeth, knead,
need the way you know men dream of working a breast.
I wait to be touched by floury thumbs. And you wait,

for the rise or fall, the moon at the bare window folded in,
again, the crescent of your ring cutting dough to heal like scar.

Angela Readman is a poet and short story writer. Her poetry collection Strip was published by Salt.

Quiche 22 by Gary Twynam

My wife once had a quiche disaster,
Inedible to beast or man.
I thought I'd help, and so I asked her,
"Do we have a back-up flan?"

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A Plain Cook's Prayer by Kathy Pimlott

Deliver me from cakes who could do
with pulling themselves together –
torte, glossy, but with anxious leanings;
pavlova, whimsical and brittle.

Give me at teatime a Victoria,
smugly  glorious on its doily,
a stoical date and walnut,
a valiant  take-me- as-you-find me bun.

Let a lemon drizzle save me
from the melancholy of éclairs,
savarin’s wild despair, the quiet disdain
of violet macaroons.

O cakes of England,
rise and comfort me.

tbsp. by Judi Sutherland

In my mother’s kitchen there were no scales,
all weighing was done by tablespoon;
for flour and sugar, a perfect ounce
heaped as much above as there is below.
With baking-soda, eggs and marge
we’d make sultana scones, jam tarts,
sandwich cakes, not fancy, nothing requiring
the Be-Ro Book; all from memory.
Plain cooking, fit for a plainer life,
a recipe of 
expect the worst

in a stir of gossips, con-artists
and nosy-parkers, no-one you can trust.
She baked as she lived, liked only what she knew,
shunned the unfamiliar. I wish her life
had been ruled by the mantra of the mixing bowl;
as much above as there is below.

The Kitchen Goddess Genesis by Lucy Lepchani

On the first day She said: Let them be very, very light! And lo! She created the recipes.

 On the Second day She brought forth ingredients; amassed them in packets,
stacked them in blocks and on perfect ceramic dishes;
and assembled utensils shone amongst the cosmos.

On the third day, She separated the wet ingredients from the dry; then creamed,
and steamed, and beat, and whisked frothily,
and then weighed, sieved, grated, crumbed and added pinches,
folded the mixtures unto their own becoming.

The fourth day saw Her hands shape petit-fours, scatter star-cut cookies, roll cinnamon-wheels,
pour pale batters into smart cake-tins and non-sticks,
tip out the foam of the Swiss roll mix, spoon macaroons, fruit-up tartlets:
and the heavens sang in the glory of Her meringues.

And on the fifth, these things were baked to perfection,
optimum timing and temperatures, selected correctly.

On the sixth day they acquired their Holy scrumptious: eiderdowns of lovely cream and
a marzipan coat unto Battenburg, crimp-edged lemon-curd, red jam, or treacle tarts,
a summer pudding crammed with berries,
hundreds-and-thousands and glace cherries and sugared violets
nippling cup-cakes, brandy-snaps curled around Chantilly cream:
all of these wonders and more, set out on Her Glorious Doyleys.

On the seventh day, She scoffed lot;
and thereafter all humankind seeketh out
this perfection in Her Own Likeness.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Midday Tea by Jody Porter

A crescent smudge of flour
marks your cheek.

Sweet bright dust of summer’s baking hour
gives a clue of morning loaves,

and makes a promise of midday tea.
The snowdrift kitchen 

billows white with flocks of clouds 
about your feet. I like your hair like this:

tied back in messy bun with curls awry,
neatness gone by batches two and three.

I boil some water, arrange the cups.
You let the workhorse oven heave a sigh.

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

Friday, 7 September 2012

Dot's Specialty by Porky The Poet

With all due deference
To the people of Cornwall
My mum made the best pasties
Cold hands perfect for shortcrust
If not ideal for applying vicks vapo rub
She only makes them now if I ask her
But I haven't the heart to tell her
They used to be a lot bigger
On the other hand
Perhaps it was I
Who was just

How to make fine almond cakes by Imogen Robertson

My husband is baking while Bill Evans
thinks his way through ‘Time Remembered’
and I become texture; ground sugar, and how
the mix sticks a little to his wedding ring.
He calls it alchemy and balances my humours
with rose water, coriander seeds. The cat
on my lap, its thin muscles tensing, heat,
the pressure of an idea working its way 
through the pap and fluff of my brain. 
Little almond discs tasting of the spice trade, 
eaten under a blue moon with white port, 
very cold, as we talk Apollo, astrolabes.

Imogen is a writer of historical fiction and poetry based in London. Find out more about her novels here. Before becoming a writer Imogen was a TV Director.

This Packet of Biscuits by Nicola Gledhill

is something I know I shouldn't open.
My mother always held an irrational fear
that we would run out of biscuits,
one that caused her to stock up on biscuits -
perpetual packets of Foxes and mint creams
for special occasions, requiring biscuits,
that never came. This packet of biscuits
is my fear of taking up too much space,
of losing my hipbones. This packet of biscuits
is only a packet of biscuits.

Nicola Gledhill comes from New Zealand, works in advertising, likes circus, cakes and costume.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Mary Berry's Lashes by Michelle Madsen

Too rich, for one so well-baked
Unexpectedly caked in tarry crumbs
Of carbon black, Mary Berry’s lashes
Framing twinkles, glimmer cherries
Of ancient baking wisdom,
Steal the show
Bat-wings of approbation semaphore
Flashes of hot-scone glamour,
Glimmering treacle tart memories
Of how it was done in the 50s
Bake, rattle and roll
On an Aga, not a dancefloor
A second golden age, more
Home counties than Hollywood
Kitchen Aid your prop of choice
No call for hearing aids
To achieve the perfect bakers’ plait
Damask dimpled cheeks,
Choux buns steamed to perfection
Dusted with powder, a fine icing
Creased with disappointments
My buns have sunk
My sweetbreads are salted
Pastry as underbaked and wet as her mascara
And yet, through my dripping sweat
I see pity shining from her tiny eyes
A twitch of the neck, a shudder of pride
And she concedes that at least I’ve tried

Many have failed where you succeed Mary
Ghost of kitchens past, queen of cakes
An accolade from you and I’m baked

Michelle is the host of Hammer and Tongue Camden, the London arm of the UK's largest slam poetry network. She also runs and hosts I'm Sorry I Haven't Haiku and performs at festivals around the country.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Baking Scones for Eminem by Valerie Laws

Someone should be. Someone should be
Walking through the door with a heavy tray,
Steam rising from scones like puffball clouds
Golden and swollen, light as fluff, jam
Glowing ruby, warm as mother’s blood,
Primrose-cool butter waiting calmly
To spread and melt. And Marshall, he
Should be slouching on a suburb sofa
Which has seen better days and sticky
Fingers, and he should spring erect
At the scent of new baking as flour, fat,
Sugar make their music, and she
Will say, casually swiping his feet
In their box-fresh fuck-off trainers
Off the coffee table with a hand
Trained by years of nose-wiping,
‘Now now, Marshall!’ as she lets
The tray land like a spacecraft
Bringing peace to earth. Not me,
Even though my heavenly scones
Could save him, free him to sing
Of something more than money
And how crap his childhood was.
I’ve been there, done that
With the mothering, the Be-Ro
And the Stork. Still doing it. Still
Having different ideas about muscular
Younger men on sofas, even Slim
With his antimacassar of tattoos,
Though butter and jam could still be
Involved. Not me, then.

But someone should be.

Valerie Laws is a novelist, poet, playwright and performer.