The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Saffron Jambals

sdoh123's picture

Saffron Jambals

This started with my love for good 'ol fashioned sugar cookies.  I get curious about the origins of foods, so a few weeks ago I started reading up on sugar cookies.  A few food historians agree that the modern sugar cookie is a descendant of jambals, or jumbles, so I set out to find a good a recipe for the primitive cookie.  Lo and behold Martha Washington has a recipe in her big cook book of colonial cooking.  Her original recipe calls for rosewater and this got me thinking.  From what I've read jambals were typically used as medium for whatever fodder and spice one had lying around, so I wanted to make my own modest modifications.  What I ended up with was a very Mid-East/Indian jambal, and man is it good.  To complicate it a little more Robert May's recipe from The Accomplist Cook (1685) instructs that these cookies be boiled before baking "Thus you may use them, and keep them all year."  So that's what I did, and this step puts these over the top.  They fall right between chewy and crunchy, a very satisfying bite.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees 



341g chappati flour (Wholemeal should be fine)

227g granulated sugar

3 egg yolks

1 1/2 egg whites

45g heavy whipping cream (or light cream)

15g butter

1tsp saffron*

Rosewater to taste (I end up using about a tablespoon)

4tbsp raw honey

*Most good saffron comes dried whole so you have to grind it yourself; this is an approximation so you'll need to use your nose and tastebuds to make sure you have a suitable amount.  The strength of saffron flavor should be greater than the rosewater.



Mix sugar, butter, cream and eggs to a smooth consistency.

Add saffron and rosewater.

Slowly mix in flour until uniform dough forms.



Grab about 2tbsp of the dough and roll into a slender rope.

Tie into knot of your choice (I chose a figure-eight knot).

Set aside on parchment or countertop (The dough is very forgiving and easy to move about).



In a medium saucepan combine water and honey so that is about 3/4 full and bring to a boil (feel free to toss in a little ground saffron).

Submerge cookies with a slotted spoon in boiling mixture so that each get a 1 minute dip.

When removing shake dry and place on parchment lined baking sheet; 1 inch apart is plenty of room as these do very little rising.

Sprinkle with turbinado sugar while still wet (the sugar does partially melt making a nice glaze during bake).



Give one more sprinkling of turbinado sugar and place in oven.

Bake at 375 degrees for 14-16 minutes.

Move straight to cooling rack and let rest for half an hour.


AnnaInMD's picture

put them on my list.  I be the 1685 recipes were fun to read !  

Floydm's picture

Those are beautiful, and the research you did is fascinating. Thanks for sharing!


sdoh123's picture

The old recipes were very interesting.  I didn't realize how many antiquated references there would be.  Washington's recipe asked for an "eggsworth" of butter, and that you "bake them as you doe diet bread."  May's recipe says to boil them as you would boil simnels; May's note was a little confusing because I couldn't find a single simnel recipe that called for boiling so I treated this as pretzel or bagel boiling--moreso bagel boiling after I found mention here in the forums that traditional Montreal bagels are boiled with a bit of honey.  That was a delicious detail I couldn't help but incorporate.