Is there anything you could bake from Tudor Times that screams Tudor Times as much as Jumbles? Maybe Marchpane. But Jumbles, if legend is to be believed, played a part in the very dawn of the Tudor era. It's said that while Henry Tudor's soldiers looted Richard's camp after the Battle of Bosworth Field, they found a recipe for these chewy, knotted biscuits fluttering in the wind, in the tent of Richard's cook.
Despite being easy to make, this recipe took me a few times to get right. The first time I winged it and used too much flour, so ended up adding more water and making a sticky dough that didn't really work. The next few times were works in progress - adding a little less flour and tweaking the eggs. And about the fourth time I nailed it with this combo. I've added only a small amount of sugar to the mixture, because I decided to dust them liberally with a snowy dusting of icing sugar afterwards. The Tudors might have thought that sugar was a health food but I don't think we share their opinion today, so it's mostly in the topping.
Here's the original recipe, in the second part of The Good Huswife's Jewell, 1597.
Take twenty Egges and put them into a pot both the yolkes & the white, beat them wel, then take a pound of beaten su∣ger and put to them, and stirre them wel together, then put to it a quarter of a peck of flower, and make a hard paste thereof, and then with Anniseede moulde it well, and make it in little rowles beeing long, and tye them in knots, and wet the ends in Rosewater, then put them into a pan of séething water, but euen in one waum, then take them out with a Skimmer and lay them in a cloth to drie, this being doon lay them in a tart panne, the bottome bée∣ing oyled, then put them into a temperat Ouen for one howre, turning then often in the Ouen.
Bear in mind that the recipe states that this makes a hundred Jumbles, which might be a good thing for a banquet of lords and ladies from all over the realm, but is less of a good thing for my family of four to nibble on with our tea after Sunday lunch.
Here's my amended, 21st-century-friendly recipe. They're best eaten on the day they're made, and if you have any left over, cover them with a plate or cling film and eat them up the day after.
300g plain flour
50g caster sugar
3 small eggs or 2 large
half teaspoon caraway seeds
half teaspoon rosewater syrup mixed with 2 tbsp cold water (optional, if needed)
icing sugar, to serve
Heat oven to 180ºC and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Add a few drops of olive oil to grease the paper lined tray.
Mix together the flour, sugar, eggs and caraway seeds and knead to form a stiff dough. Put a large pan of water on the hob and bring to a boil.
Break off small pieces of the dough and roll into knots, twists or long sausage-shapes (as you can imagine, the sausage shapes look a little less appetising than the knots, so stick to twists unless you want giggles at the tea-time table). Use the rose-water mixture to help stick the ends of your knots together if you need to. Drop the jumbles into the water and when they rise to the top, lift out with a slotted spoon, drain and place on the tray.
Bake for 15 minutes until pale and hardened. Cool, and dust with icing sugar before serving.
Made these? Let me know how you got in the comments below, or, for bonus points, share to Instagram and tag me @lovebritishhistorypics and I'll share any I see!
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