Bakers' Shops


Thank you to Bryn Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland for the following memories of Edinburgh in the 1950s:

Crawfords, Martins and McVitties

"I remember devouring a vanilla slice from  Edinburgh’s wonderful bakers' shops – Crawfords, Martins or McVitties.

Unlike most modern imitations, the legendary vanilla slice was about 2 ½” x 2 ½” square by 1½” deep – two layers of pastry hemming in a slab of glorious confectioner’s custard you could trampoline on – topped by a thick covering of white icing.

The secret was in the solidity of the custard. If you couldn’t jump on it, without leaving a footprint, it was too soft.

Similar to the sardine special, sold at Edinburgh's Milk Bars, too harsh a bite would send the custard in all directions and bits of pastry all down your front onto the floor.

However, the premeditated 'bite and sook' technique would work every time – expertly sucking in the custard and falling bits of pastry. Stray bits of icing would stick to your fingers to be licked off at your leisure."

Still Available Today

"The good news is that old-style vanilla slices are still alive and well.

For all those who want to perfect their ‘bite and sook’ technique, top-notch vanilla slices can be found in Dobbie’s garden centre’s coffee shop, near Eskbank, in the first centre island.

As you sink your teeth into one, I guarantee you’ll become instantly speechless."

Bryan Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland:  May 7, 2006




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