I had a special request for cookies from my resident taster so I selected Mrs. Cressman’s Fruit Jumbles from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. The term jumble is used often during this era when referring to certain types of cookies. It becomes less and less common after the first twenty years of the twentieth century.
I creamed the butter and sugar and then stirred in the three medium eggs. I mixed in the currants next and then managed to knock the last of my baking powder over. I had to use a substitute — cream of tartar and baking soda. Those two combined are essentially baking powder. The proportion is 1 teaspoon of baking powder is equal to 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar. I added 3 cups of flour and attempted to roll out the cookies. I had to add another cup of flour.
I rolled out the dough with my rolling pin and cut the cookies out using a juice glass. I decided to use parchment paper on the pan since I suspected “strewing cocoanut and sugar water” could get result in a mess on the baking pan. A cook in 1912 might chose to use butter paper which is similar to today’s parchment paper.
I placed the cookies on parchment paper on the cookie sheet. I mixed two teaspoons of sugar with the same of water and spooned it onto the cookies. I sprinkled shredded cocoanut on top. The cookies baked for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Mrs. Cressman continues to be somewhat annonymous as there are many Cressmans in Waterloo County in 1906. One possibility is 31 year old Mary Ann Eby married to Allan Cressman. This Mennonite couple live in Berlin where Allan is a sawyer and later a street labourer. Then there is 36-year-old Mary Ann Nahrgang married to Menno C. Cressman. They too live in Berlin in the 1901 census where Menno has a dry goods store. They too are Mennonite. These are just the possibilities in Berlin. There are other Cressmans in the town of Waterloo and beyond. If the contributor is one of the Mary Ann’s I’m curious as to the connection among her and the others contributors.
The cookies spread a lot on the pan but were easy to remove from the parchment. I let them cool before my taster, his friends, and I sampled Mrs. Cressman’s Fruit Jumbles. They are a nice cookie. My tasters liked them too. The cocoanut adds a little something different to what is essentially a currant cookie.
2 cups sugar, 1 cup butter, 3 eggs, 1 cup currants, 2 teaspoons baking powder, flour enough to roll. Wash with sugar water and strew with cocoanut before putting in oven.