J is for jumbles
In my memory, jumbles had lemon and almonds in, but a quick Google around for a recipe turned up a history of spicy cookies (think caraway and cinnamon in the mix) that begins in the Middle East some centuries ago. According to Wikipedia, in their early incarnations, jumbles used to be boiled, pretzel-like, while other sites talk of rosewater flavouring and biccies that were ring-shaped.
None of that sounded like the jumbles that I remembered from being a wee 'un. Could the history of the jumble have forked at some point, creating a British and an American branch of the jumble family tree? It could indeed.
Turns out while the nutmeg-y jumbles took root in America, a different version established itself in Blighty - while the spicy variant may have been the thing in Tudor times, by the time Queen Victoria was on the throne a more lemony version was gracing the afternoon tea tables of the British, as this recipe attests.
But nowhere could I find mention of the recipe with almonds in that I distinctly remember from being a kid. Only one thing for it – go back to the original source.
Yep, my mum still had the jumbles recipe I used as kid, in the same superannuated recipe book I remember (it's at least 30 years old, and possibly older). Given the book was meant to promote the use of milk (ironic, no?), it needed a bit of adaption. Here's my version:
makes 8 or 10 biscuits
75g vegan margarine
75g caster sugar
2tbsp almond milk
150g self-raising flour
25g ground almonds
Zest of half a large lemon
Small squeeze lemon juice
Tiny pinch salt
How you do it
Preheat oven to 180C and grease a baking sheet.
Cream together the margarine (I used Pure sunflower) and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix til thoroughly combined.
Squish into one big ball of dough.
Tear off golf ball sized lumps, and roll into balls. Roll the balls between your hands until they make fat finger size rolls. Bend the rolls into S shapes and put on the baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes.