Gingerbread Jumbles

       Last weekend I brought some gingerbread jumbles to the 4th of July jollification. I made a passel of them (isn’t that a good 18th century word?) and they were all eaten. Evidently, people really liked them (or I got lucky). I used Hannah Glasse’s receipt (modernized a little bit ) and here it is. I used Splenda instead of sugar and unsweetened applesauce instead of shortening and reduced the baking time to 7 minutes. Nobody knew the difference.

Jumbles comes from the Latin “gemel” meaning twin, because of their shape. The use of the word “jumble” for cookie predates the use of the word “jumble” to indicate a mixture of stuff possibly allowing for the pastry as the origin of the modern meaning.  Jumbles were widespread in Europe by the 17th century. It most likely originated in Italy as the cimabetta.Jumbles were most likely brought to America by travelers on the Mayflower.

The jumble was originally twisted into various knot patterns or intricate loops. The twisted shapes were then boiled in water. By the late 18th century, jumbles became rolled cookies; similar to our modern sugar cookies without leavening agents.

Early flavoring agents were aniseed, coriander, caraway seeds and rosewater. When the cookie was adapted in America, it was a thin crisp cookie using grated lemon peel as the flavoring.

Jumbles were known by many variations of the name including; jambal, jemelloe and gemmel. Other spellings of jumbles were jambles, jumbals, jumbolls, jumbolds, and jumballs.

Gingerbread Jumbles

(50-60 cookies)
1 cup sugar (I used SPLENDA)
2 t ginger
1 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 c butter or margarine, melted (or  1 cp applesauce or same of baby food plums)
1/2 c cream (if using applesauce, increase a little bit as needed)
1 c unsulphured molasses (mild)
3/4 t vanilla extract
3/4 t lemon extract
4 c  unbleached flour, unsifted

Combine the sugar, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.  Mix well.  Add the melted butter, evaporated milk, and molasses.  Add the extracts if desired.  Mix well.  Add the flour 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly.  The dough should be stiff enought to handle without sticking to fingers.  Knead the dough for a smoother texture.  Add up to 1/2 cup additional flour if necessary to prevent sticking.  When the dough is smooth, roll it out 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface and cut it into cookies. or twist into knots (feels like playing with Playdoh).   Bake on a floured or greased cookie sheet in a preheated 375° F oven for 6 to 10 minutes.  Err on the side of underdone and let them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before taking them off. The cookies are done if they spring back when touched. They will harden some when cooled.

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