J is for jumbles

Jumbles aren't strictly something I've never made before, but they are something I've never made a vegan version of ever - I think the last time I cooked these little biscuits, I was probably about 10, and I used a recipe from my mum's Big Dairy Cookbook (how times change!)

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.


  1. Another thing I haven't heard of but they look like a lot of fun to make! I really like the sound of the lemon juice and ground almonds in them. I love digging up recipes from childhood every now and then and veganising them.

  2. I've never heard of Jumbles but I love almonds in cookies so I know I'd love these!

  3. those look like those stella d'oro cookies - http://johnmariani.com/archive/2009/090712/stella%20doro%20Breakfast_Treats.jpg - mmm!

  4. The only jumbles I know are the packaged version sold here, they're called Honey Jumbles and the biscuits are soft and spiced with ginger and probably other spices and they are topped with either pink or white icing.

    I love the shape of yours and the addition of ground almonds and it's so nice to re-create something from your childhood!

    p.s the pie is mostly just mushies + kale + orange juice & zest, the original recipe is linked from my post if you want to give it a go!

  5. Oh my god, Jumbles!!! I'd totally forgotten these ever existed but my mum totally used to bake these when I was a kid and I remember them being almondy too.


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