a plain jane: buttery raisin biscuits

I’ve been swamped with work so it’s been nothing but crickets around here from my end. I haven’t had much to write about really, as all the cooking that I’ve been doing has involved just emptying out all the bits n’ bobbins from my pantry. It’s tasty, in a gotta-do-it kind of way, but not all that exciting.

Yesterday I did celebrate one small work milestone with a bit of baking. After some website mockups that I had sent to a client were approved, I figured that a bit of celebratory baking was required. The thing was, I still had loads of other work to complete, so the prep and baking had to be quick so that I could get right back into the swing of things work-wise. Lucky me, I had just finished reading this post on Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once. The photo reminded me of my favorite bakery item: the eccles cake. I know that some people are all about chocolate or a macaron or a cupcake. But for me, if I spot an eccles cake, it’s mine. It’s not the prettiest or the sweetest thing on the shelf…in fact, it’s just a little bit dowdy and plain Jane. But I know that what it lacks in beauty, it makes up for in taste. Buttery, crispy and chewy all at once, and studded with lemony currants, it’s my idea of bakery perfection. Take that you starry-eyed cupcake!

So getting back to the real star of this post, the buttery raisin biscuit. Now, I’m calling these a biscuit in the way the British refer to cookies. These are not to be confused with the Southern-style biscuits dripping with gravy or clotted cream. Nope, these are a bar cookie of sorts or something akin to shortbread. I made the recipe as directed, except I used plain ol’ raisins instead of fancy currants and added a bit of lemon zest just to remind me of those eccles cakes. I started preparing the recipe, weighing the ingredients at the top of the hour and by half past, the biscuit was on my kitchen table cooling. A 30 minute treat, indeed. I don’t have a fluted tart pan, so I made do with my small 7 inch springform cake pan that worked just fine. When I cut into the biscuit, it didn’t have the crunch I was after, but it did have a good texture that was somewhere between a dense brownie and a scone. Next time (and oh, there will be a next time), I will bake it a bit longer for a bit more bite. This recipe only makes a small batch of biscuits as I was able to cut 8 wedges and after they disappeared, I wanted more. So go ahead and make a double-batch!

21 comments to “a plain jane: buttery raisin biscuits”

  1. 1
    VeggieGirl   June 19, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Those raisin biscuits look anything BUT “plain jane” to me – they look spectacular! Yum!

    Good luck with work – I hope it gets less-hectic for you a.s.a.p.!!

  2. 2
    Bijoux   June 19, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    I was wondering what had happened to you. You’ve fallen of the blog radar.
    That picture of the raisin biscuit looks quite lovely actually. I have never tasted a eccles cake before. Nor a macaron. Am I missing something? I guess I need to try making this so don’t seem quite so clueless about eccles. I’m still working my way through the UBC cake but with my current flu-like symptoms, cake is just not doing it for me. The weather here is crapola. Rain, rain and more rain.

  3. 3
    Rachael M.   June 20, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    How nice – you finish some work and WE get a treat!

    This post is also so funny to me because – we don’t have clotted cream in the South, so we wouldn’t know to put it on a biscuit if you handed it to us. 🙂

    So does it have a flavor like a shortbread, then? Because I think I could get on board with a giant round cookie of raisin shortbread!

  4. 4
    Commonplace iris   June 20, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    I am so making these as soon as I can. I love eccles cakes (and squashed fly biscuits for that matter — originally from England and missing these things here in Vermont) so this sounds right up my alley.

  5. 5
    Dawna   June 20, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Ah, another fan of the eccles cake! Looks delicious.

  6. 6
    Jennie   June 21, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Starry-eyed: Ha! That’s about the best and most precise adjective that I’ve ever heard about a cupcake lol!

    Never had an eccle before. Must investigate…

  7. 7
    jessica.celion   June 22, 2008 at 12:18 am

    thanks for sharing such nice food’s recipes

    jasmine celion

  8. 8
    Dawn   June 22, 2008 at 8:35 am

    I bet those taste like a scone, but way better? I could really see a slice of that going really well with a tall, iced latte. I’m ready! 🙂

  9. 9
    kickpleat   June 22, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    thanks veggiegirl.

    bijoux, only the best bakeries have eccles cakes! you should find one that has them 🙂 or make this!

    rachael, nice way of putting it! indeed, everyone gets a treat 🙂 it does have a flavour similar to shortbread, but different. i really can’t describe it except to say that it is wonderful!

    iris, glad i could help! a squashed fly biscuit? i’m curious!

    thanks dawna! hooray for the eccles cake!

    heehee, jennie! yes, investigate the eccles cake, you won’t regret it!

    thanks jasmine!

    dawn, it is similar to a scone…but not completely. it’s buttery and delicious and would go perfectly with a tall, iced latte!

  10. 10
    Craig   June 22, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Hey J,

    Have I got the cccles cake hookup for you – at Brick Street Bakery, the organic bakery right around the corner from our place. I’ll take you there the next time you’re staying with us. You’ll cry, they’re so good!

    I’ve got a very bad eccles cake problem thanks to Brick Street Bakery, actually…

  11. 11
    kickpleat   June 22, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    ha, craig! beat you to it. i had one when we stayed at your place in march 🙂

  12. 12
    jen   June 23, 2008 at 3:45 am

    Now that’s something I haven’t had in a while 🙂 I didn’t exactly grow up on Eccles cakes but I’m a good Northern English lass, so I’ve eaten my fair share!

    These look like the business 🙂

  13. 13
    TaraDharma   June 22, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    super duper yum! It’s too hot here to bake now, but I’ll bookmark this page…and send it to my dad who is a great baker and cook. He’ll love this blog.

    Found you via Everbody Knows – my good fortune!

  14. 14
    Nina   June 23, 2008 at 10:02 am

    hey i really like your blog!

    if you’re interested in music to accompany your cooking escapades, check out my newly-returned blog, Half a Person: http://halfapersonblog.blogspot.com

  15. 15
    michelle @ TNS   June 23, 2008 at 11:25 am

    thumbs up for any recipe with “biscuit” and “butter” in the title.

  16. 16
    eatme_delicious   June 23, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Halfway between a brownie and a scone?! I must have these! They look so good and I love things that are quick and easy to bake. I’ve never had an eccles cake.

  17. 17
    kickpleat   June 23, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    taradharma, thanks for stopping by!

    jen, i didn’t grow up on them either, but i certainly can appreciate them…a lot.

    thanks nina!

    totally, michelle, totally!!

    eat me, an eccles cake is made with puff pastry so it’s quite different from this biscuit. but i do like this recipe a lot and i’m sure it will be fun to play with ingredients and flavours.

  18. 18
    Sara   June 23, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    wow, those look divine. i’ll have to try this on the weekend. thanks for sharing!

  19. 19
    hag   June 23, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    You say butter…I say anytime! That looks really good…something to have with tea, perhaps.

  20. 20
    jenn   June 24, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    ohhhh i’m so trying these!!! Wow simple and yet look amazing, bet you they are fab!!!

  21. 21
    Anonymous   January 7, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    This looks so good but I am a ditz when it comes to conversion. Any chance of you posting the measurements in cups? Thanks!

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