Friday, September 30, 2016

Making Richard's Cookies

I've become interested lately in historic recipes & a friend of mine frequently posts her adventures in antique recipes on Facebook.  Some of these are beyond my pay grade--either too time-consuming or requiring utensils that I don't have--but I recently stumbled across one that is right up my alley: Bosworth Jumbles.

According to a news article in the Hinkley Times, the recipe for these cookies originated with Richard III's own chef. And of course legend has it that the recipe was ripped from the dead chef's hands after the Battle of Bosworth in 1485--perhaps by Margaret Beaufort herself? I'm sure the Ricardian fans who blame her for everything else will begin swearing up & down she did.  

The recipe presented in the article, however, had some discrepancies.  The list of ingredients was simple: Eggs, flour, sugar, butter.  No BFD. The instructions, however, mentioned lemon zest.  Uh, whut?

It's not a big deal, lemon zest. Take a lemon & rub it against a cheese grater--Voila, lemon zest.  But since it wasn't in the rather short list of ingredients, I was concerned that the author had left out other, possibly more important, ingredients &/or instructions.

What I found in a Google search was a wide array of recipes all claiming to be "authentic" Bosworth Jumble recipes.  They had the same ingredients but varied widely in the amounts (one called for a POUND of sugar & a cup of flour, for example. What the....?)  I ended up having to "read between the lines."  This picture is the recipe I used:

I decided after looking through several recipes to just go with the one that was closest to a sugar cookie.  Since I'm from Texas, I am required by law to add pecans. 

Everything mixed together just fine.  I didn't think the lemon zest was enough, so I squeezed the lemon to add the juice to the dough.  However, I had serious trouble getting the dough to form the required "S" shape.  I even chilled the dough for 30 minutes & while that trick worked for the first few cookies in the 2nd batch, the dough quickly melted again in my hands. I ended up grabbing a couple of spoons & making drop cookies instead.

The end result was 2 batches of crispy, sweet cookies with a lemony flavor and scent.  When I do these again, I will definitely chill or freeze the dough for a lot longer amount of time, perhaps overnight.  And even though the cookies don't look "done" in the pictures, they were crispy throughout. The middles just didn't brown like the edges (something I intend to work on as well).

I am also toying with adding chopped dried fruit, such as cherries or cranberries, and maybe adding a mint or vanilla flavoring. We'll see how it goes.  

I suspected the cookies would quickly disappear at the party, & I was right. Good thing I took a picture! (And yes, those are bluebonnets decorating the plate.)

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