New Hope Jumbles
Jumbles are ring-shaped cookies native to medieval Europe and the forerunner to our sugar cookies. … Jumbles were especially dear to the Quakers. In A Quaker Lady’s Cookbook, a cookbook that shares recipes from four generations of the Parry family of New Hope, Pennsylvania, all generations of women recorded their jumble recipes. The earlier recipes of this family who lived in the Parry Mansion from 1787 to 1900 contained currants, spices, wine or brandy, and less sugar. Later versions contained baking powder, which is how the firm, crispy jumble morphed into the softer and cakier American sugar cookie we know.
Jumbles have been loved throughout America. The Carolina Housewife, written in 1847, contains three jumble recipes, all flavored with rose water and spices, but one rolled and cut into small pieces; one not specifying how the cookie is prepared for baking; and a third rolled, cut into strips, twisted into the characteristic ring shape, and then baked. Food writer Annabella Hill of Georgia describes jumbles made with rose water and nutmeg in her 1872 Mrs. Hill’s New Cook Book. In The Settlement Cookbook of 1903, published in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, jumbles were cut into the shape of a doughnut to mirror their earlier ring shape. Here is Elizabeth Van Etten Parry’s 1850s Quaker recipe, which is lightly flavored with nutmeg.
Yield: About 90 (2 ¼”) cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) lightly salted butter, at room temperature
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the soft butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined, 1 minute more.
Sift together the flour and nutmeg into a medium-size bowl. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and mix with the mixer on low speed until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Repeat with the remaining flour until all the ingredients are well combined.
On a floured surface, roll one-fourth of the dough until it’s about 1/3-inch thick. Cut with a ring-shaped cookie cutter and transfer cookies to an ungreased baking sheet, keeping them at least 1-inch apart. Place the pan in the oven.
Bake the cookies until the edges are light brown, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool on wire racks before serving. Store covered for up to 1 week.
Excerpted from AMERICAN COOKIE. Copyright © 2018 by Anne Byrn. Published by Rodale Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House.