Saturday, 26 October 2013

Baking tips from Annie by Pauline Seawards

I was a plain cook
in service and at home.
I was mashed spuds, slab cake, Birds custard
cabbage cut roughly and cooked properly.

I was skin a rabbit
pluck feathers from a hung bird
singe and draw.

Some women are too dainty for their own good
fall at seventeen
shop bought fancies all their married life

All men are boys at heart
seek comfort in sugar sandwiches

Sponge was my true love
baked when the oven was hot for roast.
Used cracked eggs (they have to break anyway),
mixed all in one with flour and fat,
flavoured half plain, half chocolate,
or coffee, to ring the changes
used the Stork wrapper
to prevent sticking.

In her ninetieth year, arthritic, her fingers were like dahlia tubers,
clutching a wooden spoon she could barely stir the mixture
The cakes still tasted the same
as if the blackened tins remembered the rise and flavour

Pauline Sewards currently lives near the Westbury White Horse in Wiltshire and is working on a series of poems about her grandmothers who were all fantastic bakers and unrecognised poets.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Soap Opera Cake by Claire Trévien

Kimberley’s plumbed the depths of the human brain,
her unusual layers are two powerhouses of flavour.
      Charlotte Royale’s a girl I went to school with
      tight curls tamed tighter with butterfly clips.
Planet Frances is an eggwashed choux,
that rarely sticks to the rule book.
       Charlotte used to put her brain in the fridge
       overnight, she always woke up furious.
Beccaroon needs to smack the judges 
with flavour instead of drowning in ale.
       Charlotte’s not been done justice,
       head covered in Ghostbuster’s gloop.
Apron caked with slaughtered ganache,
Ruby’s opera is an undefined tragedy.

Claire Trévien is the anglo-breton author of The Shipwrecked House (Penned in the Margins) which is longlisted in this year's Guardian First Book Award. She edits Sabotage Reviews (, co-edits Verse Kraken (, and co-organizes Penning Perfumes (

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Poem In Celebration Of A Thousand Sugary Kisses by Michelle McGrane

Behind, the bell chimes, the door closes on rue Royale and the frosty city.

The pâtisserie smells of almonds, caramel, vanilla, warm air trapped in choux and
shortcrust layers; memories of Pierre Éclair's childhood Rouen, his mother's flaky
croissants aux beurre, her pans of scallop-shaped Madeleines.

Charles Aznavour's 'Les Plaisirs Démodés' crackles through the vintage radio. Above
the till, the blackboard displays prices in smudged pink and white chalk next to
photographs of his wife and daughters.

Here, you can exhale, remove your gloves and scarf, take all the time you need
to choose your sticky cakes and viennoiseries: pain au chocolat, brioche à tête,
chausson aux pommes, tarte citron.

Linger over the macaroon tiers, the shelves of gleaming honey, quince and damson
jams, the stacks of mendicants and marron glacés.

M. Éclair knows all ills are eased by crème fraiche and ganache. If he could,
he would wrap the world in sweetness, dust the streets with icing sugar, marzipan
the steeples.

Michelle McGrane lives in Johannesburg and is a member of SA PEN. She blogs at

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Argot of Rye by Fran Lock

That time I lost it among meringues
listing like toppled mosques, cupcakes
piled up, knickknacks in a granny flat;
meticulously dainty chocs, in a posh
box like dolls’ house furniture. I said
I couldn’t stand it, that peevishly sweet
pretence, every morsel over-acting,
where whipped cream was a powdered
wig; Candy Land rococo with added
chintz. And you kicked me in my bad
ankle, under the table, and hissed: what
more did I want? And I started to tell
you, picking at sequined itoas of seed
from my uneaten roll, but you slapped
my hand and I cried instead, so I’ll
say it now: lover, I want what sent
Salem raving, that succotash sopping
rye, black as a bible, ripened like dark
fruit; the dense, soaked hump of it,
steaming. I want a mauled weight
of bread I can heft in my hands, stuff
to clutch; the taste of sweat and loam
and wet sand. Lover, I want a deep
dough swampy with figs; want garlic
barbs or olives big and black as rubber
bullets. Lover, I want borscht, dripping,
thick as bulls’ blood, slopped in bowls
with baby’s head pampushky. Lover,
I want stab vest slabs of honey cake.
But I see from your face that something
is lost in translation. Leave me then,
to the sour pong of my kitchen;
my splinters of pickle, my heavy-breathing
yeast. Leave me to dabble my cornstarch
like I’m dusting for prints. This is
the archaeology of the stomach and the heart.

Fran’s debut collection, ‘Flatrock’ (Little Episodes), was launched in May 2011. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Ambit, The Alarmist, Poetry London, The Stinging Fly, and in ‘Best British Poetry 2012’. Her second collection, ‘The Mystic and the Pig Thief’ (Salt), is due out in April 2014. She owns a basenji and several moth-eaten cardigans. She is still searching for the perfect cup of coffee.