Friday, 19 October 2012

The Final by Jacqueline Saphra

What stirs here, friends? Ambition, hunger and the wooden spoon
join together for the rise, fight to trap the crucial air.

Our three contestants work towards the best Pivithier
each with his ample, buttered love. What can we do but swoon

at this parade, their naked need to please, the spill and trick?
Though some would say it’s only cake, our heroes are hell-bent

on perfection: what could be more endearing than these men
who urge, with gentle rage, their sponges into sickly pink?

The fancies fall apart. Why, why? The icing will not hold.
Outside, on the soggy lawn, one dear man can hardly speak

for sobs: other losses, older griefs perhaps. But he takes stock,
moves on: this is the British way. Determined. Even cold.

Inside, it’s almond, rose, pistachio. Cakes rise again.
Outside, a hush where hopeful relatives in sweaters wait.

Inside, they’re done: the darling faces flush. It’s getting late.
Outside: the truth, our English garden and the rain, the rain.

Jacqueline's latest collection is The Kitchen Of Lovely Contraptions. She blogs here.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

James Sixth and First by Sean Jones

"that which hath so bound and firmely knit the hearts of all 
your MAJESTIES loyall and Religious people unto you, that
your very Name is precious among them, their eye doeth
behold you with comfort, and they blesse you in their hearts"              
 - dedication in the King James Bible.

Great and manifold 
rough puff (bread Sovereign)
thick, and palpable
clouds of butter
cannot overshadow your MAJESTY

A fall to the ground
not suffered, rather
taken up.
In your chiffon king
of Great Britain, Ireland &c.

Tranquil peace at home
and abroad.
French fancies
the heavenly hand enriched
far and near to 
urge and excite
humble craving.

Into the English tongue
the fruit thereof
extends itself
hammered on their anvil
of deep judgement, apprehended.

Mary, Paul (Popish persons)
will malign us.
Such importance might justly require
ill meaning, discontent.

Their contentment does not
diminish or decay
vehement desire perpetuated.
Happiness, true felicity.
The eye beholds you with comfort

Immediate author of our happiness
more and more kindled.
Do not go backward, slack
though Sun in his strength
to supposed and surmised mists.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Comfort Food by Jill Abram

To show her love, she liked to bake.
Her sons ate three hot meals a day.
Her lover liked a chocolate cake,

so healthy lunches, for his sake,
she served up promptly at midday.
To show her love, she liked to bake.

Her speciality was strawberry shortcake
whenever she had guests to stay.
Her lover liked a chocolate cake.

With all those sweet things, toothache
was a threat she must allay.
To show her love, she liked to bake.

She knew well how to grill a steak
to perfection, just the way
Her lover liked.  A chocolate cake

for pudding she would make
to keep him home, that old roué.
To show her love, she liked to bake,
Her lover liked a chocolate cake.

Jill Abram has 3 poems published in Ariadne's Thread issue 3 which is available at

Monday, 15 October 2012

Mary Berry Comes Over For Tea by Lavinia Singer

    The news was greeted With that peculiar mixture
  of three-parts hot cheek Horror to one of itchy palms,
       last experienced the dAy when Andrew Motion
              overheard my ouTpouring of love
             for Cheryl Cole. What can you serve to this
    Maharaja of AGAs whO’s known for her scones
  & sprightly sponge? my Usual dessert
         is packet powder jelLy (which often as not
 refuses to set) Egad! I’m Done for:
               my meringue is Malingering – slunk
           in the sink, I’ve strAngled my strudel,
                 rubbished the Rum Babas, an upside down
     cake is upside down bY mistake…
 (Don’t even get me starteD on the plaited loaf.)
              Hopeless. Time tO throw in
                      the tea towel? Offer up
            a plate of Krispy Kremes or some
 jammy dodgers to connotE a respectable air
                  of laissez-fairE? “It doesn’t get tougher
than this!” – you bet your Profiterole it doesn’t.
                  O Gregg, I’d Be your DisasterChef.
                                       And yet –
       an image rises of her Kindly gaze, eyes of
        cornflower blue, and I think, What ho! I too
  can be dough-mestic! BriNg out the jelly and the Pick n Mix,
      I’ll give her something Gorgeous. Sherbet, mint
leaves, gum drops et voila! Not star baker, but it’s a start.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Hope You Approve of My by Nia Davies

Ever since the incident with the ginger
boyfriend and the ginger-
bread men,

I never baked a thing ‘til this
tin of non-stick with
ten scooped shell dips

for piping courgette-laced mix
to be zucced up to a crisp.
Each madeleine

will fit the arc of the palette.
Our mouths, big toe sized,
say: lo and behold

this is good! I coasted
the pips to fit just into but out of it,
thought again of My First Parmesan:

in the house of Yarnit (at home Mum
 and I ate courgette soufflé
with a lettuce leaf).

I’m still deferring my questions
to their expertise: Parmesan
or Parma Reggiano? And

now the Yarnit sisters,
standing on my step a cake to each hand.
Try my toe-cakes, please.

Approve! Yes,
approve me

Nia Davies's first pamphlet Then Spree is forthcoming from Salt. She blogs here.

Layer Cake by Mark Waldron







table mat











outer core

inner core

outer core












table cloth









Mark Waldron's latest collection is The Itchy Sea.  

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Spanish Rock Cake by Olivia Bellas


That rubbish tornado somewhere off
at sea   boats head butting fridges tripping over
phones and M&S knickers

makes me see a tumbleweed of my own
internal intake   the flies swallowed by accident
traces of pen lid  light bits of snowball -

all soft-landing in me, I hope,
the way young women from the 50’s
played catch with beach balls.

These could rebound off his head or make
up his next mealtime: the Spanish rock cake
the tooth I chipped on the Spanish rock cake

Olivia Bellas is a Londoner working as a consultant in the cultural industries. She has Spanish heritage and a history of cake.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Gregg by Lara Jakob

He said I had lovely puddings:
That no baking powder was needed
To get a rise out of him.
He said my buns had great warmth:
That the dough needn’t be kneaded
For the sin to grow within
He said our flavours complemented each other:
That on the palate we pirouetted like peppercorns;
Pole dancing ‘pon the rolling pin.
He wanted to go to heaven on my spoon,
Felt that divinity was in my chocolate
That my soufflés were deities
That he had found his soul in my jus.
The temperature keeps increasing,
The kitchen is getting hotter -
I don’t want our sauce to split.
Mr Wallace, I realise:
Loving you couldn’t get any tougher than this.

Lara blogs here and tweets to great effect, especially during competitive cooking shows.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

A Marian Lyric

We're very privileged to present on the blog a rare medieval poetic find. The person who sent it to us has also provided a note on the text: 

'I was cleaning out my attic the other day when I found something tucked into the pages of an old recipe book. It was dusty and faded, but with a little trouble I was able to read it. It appears to be a manuscript of a Marian lyric, though rather than being dedicated to the usual Mary, its subject seems (rather anachronistically I admit) to be the wonderful Mary Berry. Clearly she has dominated the world of baking for even longer than I had imagined.'

Swete levedy, makeles moder
Of delis endeles and heuynly foder,
The worldes wele thy child is
And besought I nevere more chere than this:

Make we alle murie
Whan bake us the faerie
Hir cakes that be as berie
Swete, and we shall singe ‘hail Marie!’

An I wist nat how beste to cok
Evere I lokked to hir gret bok
Auctoress thou art of mine desiren ywis
And besought I nevere more chere than this:

Make we alle murie
Whan bake us the faerie
Hir cakes that be as berie
Swete, and we shall singe ‘hail Marie!’

Anon. (c. 14th Century)

The discovery was made by Robert Leadbetter, whose hobbies include baking, exploring attics and pretending to have lived about seven hundred years.


berlin, 1957
she cut her finger on the sugar window pane   and even when the loaves rose they were unforgiving  breadcrumbs on my fists  anger in the pastry walls   but it was seven floors before we checked the blueprint   not a candy knocker  not a bonbon bell  syrup on the second floor goes uninspected  we get mice  the doors are stale  and fourteen storeys more before the fucker pays us    gretel sighs   I lick her face (frosting on the brow) and tighten up her apron  somewhere in the distance  a witch laughs

Abi Palmer blogs here.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Rural Housekeeping in the 19th Century by Pauline Sewards

Every part of the day is for working. 
On a good morning there is sunlight when we rise.
Work fills all the rhythms of the day.
First thing we take bread to bake at the mill oven.
The smell is yeasty love,
thick crust to curl the lankiest hair.

Morning is slop, scrub, peel and simmer 
then all goes easier; a soft skien
of babies and rugs for old men’s knees.
Batter mixed with yolky sun and egg white clouds
feeds every child and farmhand,
sliced thin stretches for the Vicar’s tea.

Some days don’t go so well, cake burns to the tin,
hands heavy with water make pastry stick
to fingers, turns out sad as a snoring husband. 
Nothing is wasted, magpies take spoiled scraps,
we whisk and fold again
light crumb, sweet jam and icing sugar fall.