Because there is something awesome about a giant iced oatmeal raisin cookie shaped like a pie.
'raisins' on Serious Eats
It's the one time of year when people seem to remember this grand old dame of cakes, and I'm taking full advantage. By sneaking it into breakfast. Scones are the obvious vehicle for the same flavors as the cake—ginger, raisins, and walnuts are already old hat—and they're even amenable to a little bit of icing without turning into a cupcake.
When people think of Irish baked goods, they often think of scones and soda bread. I love both those things, but the truth is that Ireland has an awesome bread baking tradition, ranging from hearty yeasted breads to fruit-filled quick breads. This is one of the latter—specifically a type of brack (from the Irish word brac, meaning spotted). The key is soaking raisins in tea overnight.
These cookies are a nice compromise. All the flavors of carrot cake are there, but in much more manageable portions.
Madeira biscuits are incredibly simple. They're essentially a flat butter cookie sprinkled with raisins, though I like to make mine with a combination of raisins and Zante currants. This is an aesthetic choice as well as a culinary one: I think the currants make the cookies resemble spotted dick, another very British dessert, and they add a tang that cuts across the richness of the butter.
In her introduction to this recipe (originally titled Polenta Shortcake with Raisins, Dried Figs, and Pine Nuts) Italian cuisine high priestess Marcella Hazan writes that James Beard was overcome by this dessert when he traveled to Venice long, long ago. "He was fascinated by this local specialty, whose nuts and dried fruits are redolent of imperial Venice's trading days with the Near East," she wrote.
Jeni Britton Bauer's approach to ice cream making is cerebral, wide ranging, and smart. Instead of limiting herself to the typical pastry pantry of sweets, Britton Bauer raids the savory kitchen as well as the liquor cabinet for ice cream inspiration. It's that sort of forward thinking that makes for incredible combinations like this Celery Ice Cream with Candied Ginger and Rum-Plumped Golden Raisins from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home.
Until pie replaces pancakes, I'll have to make do with this jam. Filled with tart Granny Smith apples, juicy raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and a healthy shot of dark rum, it tastes exactly like my favorite holiday apple pie. It's insanely good on cornbread and pretty darn delicious on plain old toast, too.