Scones made with grated raw apple and cheddar cheese. So this is a quick, rewarding, minimum effort recipe for apple cheese scones. They spread, rather than rise skywards, which seems to be the effect of cheese content in pastry.
Savoury breakfast muffins with bacon, apple and cheese. I adopted this recipe from Nigel Slater who uses ham in his muffins. Say what you will, bacon always wins over ham at breakfast time and these things are meant for breakfast.
Biscuits made with blue cheese and toasted oats. Unlike most cheese biscuits, these actually look HEALTHY. It might be because of the oats visible when you slice the pastry block – or the greenish tinge courtesy of blue cheese.
Blueberry muffins. The best. The easiest. By all means use frozen berries in the bleak mid-winter. Better that than paying extortionate price of bluebs imported from Darkest Peru. And frozen ones are very well-behaved: they stir nicely into the mix, don’t go mushy like raspberries and retain their shapes.
Breton butter biscuits, rich with extra egg yolks, made with beurre de baratte. Almost a shame to bake with it – but since I propose that the biscuits below are the best in the world, it’s only fitting that they should be made with the best butter.
Light and moist scones with buttermilk and raisin, cut into triangles. You can replace buttermilk with yoghurt – but I’d strongly encourage giving a go as it makes for a nice crust and very moist crumb. These are a bit more cakey than the ordinary scones.
Cheese scones don't rise as imposingly as fruit or plain scones – the cheese weighs things down after all considerably, so they will be a bit squatty and wonky. You might shirk from the idea of using diced cheese rather than grated...
Crunchy cheese and black pepper biscuits shaped like buttons. Crisp, peppery, with a hint of garlic. Only the button element arguably redundant, especially that it’s damn difficult to make these biscuits perfectly round and stay round whilst baking. I found the recipe in Short and Sweet by Dan Lepard.
Cheese biscuits or cheese straws made from Rugelach pastry wrapped around copious quantity of grated cheese. Lethal. Devastating. Deadly little things if you’re watching your weight. You can’t have just one.
Cheese bites made with rugelach pastry, with grated cheddar. Rugelach is the pastry base and it’s the easiest and nicest pastry in the world – just three ingredients, kneaded together by hand or in a mixer in no time at all and can be used in all kinds of products.
Biscuits with milk and white chocolate chip chunks. These are very nice biscuits – Dan Lepard’s recipe from Baking with Passion – but cookies they ain’t. A bit too austere, not quite the whacking amount of sugars as in the classic cookies, a bit too much flour and they don’t spread.
Chocolate covered and jam filled gingerbread cookies. Lebkuchen are rather indulgent spiced honey cookies and I’ve taken the indulgence to the next level here – by filling them with jam and dipping them in chocolate.
Double chocolate muffins, wonderfully gooey in the centre and a doddle to make. These little things will surely be firm favourites with whoever you make them for, builders or not. Incredibly easy to make it must be said - you needn’t even take care not to overmix like usually with muffins.
Chocolate whoopie pies with marshmallow frosting. The classic is chocolate but they come in other flavours: vanilla, raspberry, red velvet or pumpkin. The filling should be marshmallow (made with Marshmallow Fluff if you’re in New England), but cream cheese, buttercream or chocolate all acceptable too.
Soft cookies made with condensed milk, with added chocolate chips and cranberries. These things are truly disgustingly nice (there should be a Disgustingly Nice category on Fiend, don’t you think?), unbelievably easy to make and keep, if you let them.
Savoury muffins with sweetcorn and bacon, with plain flour and polenta in the mix. A little bit like old fashioned corn fritters except baked into muffin shapes. The recipe comes from Dan Lepard’s ‘Short and Sweet’.
Crunchy, melting in the mouth biscuits, a bit like Fox’s Crunch and Creams only better. Crunchy is good when it melts in your mouth and tastes of butter and sugar - which is basically what the biscuit is made of.
Shortbread bars with date, orange and cinnamon filling. Sadly - this won't be about All Bar One, speed dating or trendy wine places. Shame, I know, but then I don't know much about speed dating, in fact haven't dated much at all recently.
Fruity, nut free mince pies made from scratch: the best shortcrust pastry and delicious fruit filling. I never used to like mince pies until I made them at home. The fact is that all shop-bought pies, even the posh, fancy, Hestonised and overpriced numbers taste mainly of too much orange peel and too much booze. As much as I’m the last person to complain about too much booze, I like to keep it separate from cakes. And orange peel is usually nasty, unless you make it yourself (I don’t) or spend quite a bit more money than even Waitrose Cook’s Ingredients charge.
Scones are tricky. Scones are a thing of beauty if you get them right. I have had several goes at them before Dan Lepard came to rescue with his recipe from Short & Sweet – The Best of Home Baking.
Soft and chewy double ginger cookies. Ginger is quite amazing in its versatility, a bit like lemons, you can add it to both sweet and savoury dishes and if in sensible quantities, it’ll improve them.
Little ham and cheese pastries made in the shape of crescents. These little pastries are enormously moreish, originally meant for breakfast or brunch but I see them disappear from the tray at all times of day.
Hamantaschen - cute triangular biscuits with poppy seed or fruit filling, made traditionally for Purim. Eaten at Purim, the Jewish holiday commemorating the defeat of evil vizier Haman in ancient Persia, who planned on killing all the Jews in the Persian Empire. His plans came to naught thanks to the hero Mordecai helped by the Queen Esther. Haman hung from the gallows, having allegedly had his ears cut off.
Lebkuchen - soft, honeyed cookies, similar to gingerbreads. Lebkuchen are of German provenance, invented by Franciscan monks in the 13th century.
Macarons basques - or mouchous - are different than the Parisian variety, they are both more crunchy and more chewy, no cream filling there but presented individually and looking quite rustic compared to their descendants of central France.
My recipe for mince pies has the best shortcrust pastry and the nicest mincemeat filling - easy to make too. They go back to the times of crusades and the Middle Eastern approach to sweet and savoury, mixing meat with spices, fruit and nuts.
Oatmeal biscuits, the healthiest cookies, sprinkled with pinhead oats. They are gluten-free and only contain three spoonfuls of sugar. Definitely good for your gut with all the fibre, but oatmeal apparently also lowers bad cholesterol levels while providing bags of nutrients.
These cereal and dried fruit bars make fantastic breakfast. You can have a scrambled egg. Boring, I know, but so good for a weight-loss-régime (no bread just egg – harsh!). You can have cereal or my favourite combo...
Orange and spice muffins with candied citrus peel. These smell lovely while they’re baking – orange-and-spice, Christmas-just-around-the-corner aroma.
Pistachio and chocolate chip cookies - chewy inside and crunchy around the edges. No brainer how to make them, is it? Mix the brown with the white sugar, add enough butter and just a little flour and you’re in business.
Plain scones, or biscuits as they are known in America. This version has cheese in it but a couple of spoonfuls of sugar and some cinnamon will make a decent sweet version.
Raspberry muffers are not muffins. There’s no milk, or cream or yoghurt in the ingredients. It’s an ordinary cake mix baked in muffin tins, just for the variety. And no – they aren’t cupcakes either because no icing? No pink colouring? No little roses...
Easter spiced biscuits with currants and vanilla icing. This particular recipe uses a mix of wholemeal and plain white flours and – as dubious as I might be about its authenticity, it is a winner as the biscuits taste more unusually crunchy and earthy, less like something you might find next to your coffee cup in any old café.
Sfogliatelle, Italian leafy pastry bites, with creamy ricotta filling. Lobster tails, as they are also known (easy to guess why), must be one of the nicest things that come out of Italy – and that’s of course a serious claim.
Triple chocolate chip cookies, chewy inside and crunchy around the edges. What a sadistic recipe this is! It comes from NY Times Cooking, which I unreservedly trust, but this is (excuse the lame pun) taking the biscuit (cookie). 24 hours’ wait for the first cookie? They are having a laugh.
Raspberry muffins with white chocolate chunks. Muffin is not a biscuit. It's not a cake. It's not quite breakfast fodder. It's this weird cakey thing that you grab when on the go, when hungry but its not lunchtime.
Zombie fingers made of shortbread pastry - with almonds for nails. This is really a cool thing – and it’s surprisingly easy to make them lifelike, or deathlike actually. The almonds will fall off after a while, which I guess is due to decay…
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