[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

Jumbles Revisited
6 December 2013
[Potluck Food]

The Centre for Medieval Studies had an end-of-term party yesterday, and the theme was 'Medieval Bake-Off.' Naturally, I was delighted. I decided to go completely overboard and prepare four different things for the pot-luck. The problem is that so many medieval recipes do not adapt well to a finger-food model of presentation. There are lots of pottages, meats with sauces, and so on that are delicious, but rather bowl and utensil heavy. Which leaves pies. I decided to go with two 15th century pies, both of which I've chronicled here before: Herbe-blade, and Flathonys (made without bacon.)

I also decided to revisit a couple of 17th century recipes for Jumbles, that I first looked at ages ago, way back in '04, since they are easy finger-foods, being very nearly cookies out of the gate. Those recipes are presented below.

[Lots of pictures]


To make Sugar-Cakes or Jambals.
Take two pound of flour, dry it, and season it very fine, and then take a pound of loaf sugar, beat it very fine, and searse it, mingle your flour and sugar very well; then take a pound and a half of sweet butter, wash out the salt and break it into bits into the flour and sugar, then take the yolks of four new laid eggs, four or five spoonfuls of sack, and four spoonfools of cream, beat all these together, put them into the flour, and work it up into paste, make them into what fashion you please, lay them upon papers or plates, and put them into the oven; be careful of them, for a very little thing bakes them.

- May, Robert; The Accomplisht Cook, 1685

The ratio of flour to sugar to egg to butter is pretty well set in the recipe, the rest is open to interpretation. That said, I modify both the egg and the butter. I reduce the butter by a factor of two, since otherwise I find the result too melty. I also use a whole egg rather than just the yolks, since otherwise I end up with leftover egg whites, and I'm not always using recipes (like the next one) that call for just the whites. If you've got a use for the whites, by all means use two or three egg yolks instead of a single whole egg. In any case, the ingredients above give a good result.

Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and mix well. Add the flour and mix as well as you can. Then add a bit of the cream and sherry, and stir. If it's too dry, add a bit more, and repeat until you've got a slightly sticky dough - cookie dough texture.

Put onto a baking sheet by the tablespoonful, heaping if you like, and bake for about 12 minutes at 175C/350F. Be careful, though, as May says, 'a very little thing bakes them.'

These come out much like a simple butter cookie, which is no bad thing.


To make the best jumbles, take the whites of three eggs and beat them well, and take off the veil; then take a little milk and a pound of fine wheat flour and sugar together finely sifted, and a few aniseeds well rubbed and dried; and then work all together as stiff as you can work it, and so make them in what forms you please, and bake them in a soft oven upon white papers.
- Markham, Gervase; The English Hus-wife, 1615

Mix your flour and sugar. Beat the egg whites well, but not to the point of forming peaks. (Unless you really want to. It might be fun to try it that way.) Add it to your dry ingredients and mix. Add the milk carefully, you might need a bit more or less depending on the moisture level of your flour, phase of the moon, and your personal state of grace with the baking gods. When it's cookie-doughy, add the aniseeds and mix through.

Put them onto a cookie sheet in cookie sized dollops. Bake at 150C/300F for twenty minutes or so until they are no longer wet looking. Let them cool before you try to remove them from the sheet, they tend to stick.

These have a slightly chewy texture, which is both pleasant and interesting. The aniseeds add a nice note to the flavour.

© 2013 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite