Category Archives: Uncategorized


Sorry everyone – we were hacked yesterday. Many thanks to those of you who let us know. Normal service will (hopefully) resume today.

Illustration by Charles Harper from Betty Crocker’s Dinner for Two (1958)

The Bakers’ ABC: P is for Pottle

A measure for dry material equal in capacity to 2qt. The term is not now used.

From The Baker’s ABC by John Kirkland, formerly Head Teacher of National School of Baking, published 1927 by Gresham

The Bakers’ ABC: J is for Jigger

A small tool, one end of which is used or marking the inside edge of raised pork pies, the other end fitted with a notched wheel, for cutting strips of thin paste into bands or the pies, or for other purposes.

From The Baker’s ABC by John Kirkland, formerly Head Teacher of National School of Baking, published 1927 by Gresham

Pie Month 2012

Good morning Pie Fans,

I cannot think of anything to say about pies which I didn’t say this time last year. Suffice to say February is here, pies will be baked and if you make one too, please brag about it to us (comment, email, twitter),  so we can share your joy.

As with previous years, ‘pie’ means ‘pie’ in the broadest sense and thus includes all tartlets, pasties, borek, samosas, spanakopita, mille feuilles, clangers and anything else which involves a delicious filling insulated by carbohydrates.

Wishing you cold hands and golden pastry,


Herman the German Friendship Cake

Initially I had no plans to blog this as it’s not from a book, but after live-tweeting its assembly I thought I might as well. I remember my mother being given some of this starter about 25 years ago and I (who didn’t have to stir it daily or move it when doing other things in the kitchen), loved the resulting cake. The internet seems a little conflicted as to the origins – certainly Amish Friendship Bread is very similar.

Anyway, I was very pleased when a friend gave me some Herman starter in a yoghurt pot, in a Liberty’s bag, along with the strict advice that it was Day 3, and a piece of paper stating:

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Vintage Food delights from Germany

Many thanks to reader and guest-poster Cluedo for posting some vintage German recipes here. Was möchten Sie gerne essen?

Happy New Year

Thank you to everyone who read the blog last year – we really appreciate it. Please feel free to let us know what you would like to see more of this year in the comments section or just enjoy this advice on seasonal eating from Betty Crocker’s Dinner for Two:

Recipe requests

I’m aware that there’s been a couple of comments in the past few months asking if I could find particular recipe cards, usually the Alison Burt ones, and I’m certain I’ve missed a few of these requests, so if you’ve commented asking me to see whether I have a recipe card you’ve been searching for since 1983 could you comment again here and I’ll have a dig in the box and scan it if I have it…

(This offer does not extend to the commenter on this post!).

@thevcbt, or, we’re on Twitter too.

I love Twitter. Anyway, this blog is also on Twitter, as you probably already know. But if you didn’t know, and would like to follow us our username is @thevcbt (do you see what we did there? Clever, huh?). Tweets tend to be things like photos of recipe books I’ve just bought, or live updates when I’m drunkenly burning a pie, or Elly tweeting with some genuine, insightful content. You can have fun trying to work out which of us is tweeting! Literally minutes of fun!

You’d be a fool to miss out, frankly. A fool.

A short history of pastry

The many different kinds of pastry which are made in Britain today have evolved over the centuries from a crude flour and water dough mixture invented by the Romans. The paste was wrapped around meat and game before roasting and was not intended to be eaten. It served only to retain meat juices and aroma.

As time passed the pastry was enriched with fat and milk, and began vaguely to resemble today’s shortcrust. By Medieval times, pastry-making was well-established and rich-crust pastry covering known as coffers became as important as the fruit, meat, fish and game pies they covered.

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