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Asher: I get asked for rude cakes
Jane Asher has revealed that she often gets asked to make naughty cakes - and is not surprised as she believes sex and food are a winning combination.
The actress and baker recalls a recipe from her first baking book for a novelty cake, made for a friend's 40th birthday, which was adorned with 40 naked ladies made of flesh-coloured icing, "because he was a bit of a ladies' man".
The naughty concoction, from the 1982 book Jane Asher's Party Cakes, is still a popular order at the actress and writer's cake shop in Chelsea, west London.
"I mean sex and food - you can't get better than that," said the red-headed star, 68. "And now, of course, we do every combination - men, women, different nationalities, bondage. My initial one looks so innocent now, these misshapen little ladies."
On top of running the cake business and appearing on stage and screen, Jane still finds time to bake, often with her four step-grandchildren.
"Very often I'll bake on a Sunday morning and put on the Archers," she said.
"There's something about making a cake that makes you feel good. It is a sort of iconic object. Without being pretentious about it, there aren't many foods you stick candles in, sing around and divide up."
Her husband of more than three decades, the Sunday Times cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, also helps out in the kitchen.
"He's great. He does a lot of the shopping, particularly when I'm on tour," said Jane, who recently completed a stint in a stage adaptation of the Penelope Lively novel Moon Tiger.
"I tend to cook it. He'll stick a leg of lamb in the oven, or a chicken... If you're a genius [like him], you don't have to cook as well!"
The glamorous star is approaching septuagenarian status, but she isn't planning to slow down.
"I'd hate to retire from acting. I'd love to die on stage, or at least in the wings, preferably," she confessed.
"I don't feel like it's work. It's just living, really."
Jane's latest venture is a bakeware range with bargain chain Poundland, selling pastel-coloured kitchen essentials, including mini-scales and whisks for £1 a piece.
"It's lovely to think that for less than a fiver, people can buy a couple of cake tins, and a mixing bowl," she said. "Life's too short to live in the kitchen all the time, but it is a great joy. And for a child, making gingerbread men or cupcakes is a way into cookery."
:: Beautiful Baking by Jane Asher is published by Simon & Schuster, priced £1 at Poundland. Available now.