Historic preservation isn’t only about preserving historic buildings, structures, and sites. It’s also about preserving our intangible heritage – the music, dress, oral traditions, crafts, festivals, and cuisines that define our state’s culture. One of the earliest sweet cookie recipes to arrive in Maryland may have come over on the Mayflower from England before it was perfected at the Wavery Mansion; we present Waverly jumbles:

Jumbles have been a part of American history from the very beginning since they are believed to have come over from England on the Mayflower, even and Martha Washington is storied to have had her own favorite recipe for them.

This particular recipe for jumbles comes from Waverly House, near Woodstock in Howard County, where Governor George Howard and his wife, Prudence Dorsey, and thirteen children lived after his tenure as Governor ended in 1833. There, Prudence wrote a recipe for jumbles as: One pound flour, 1/2 pound butter, ¾ Pound brown sugar, 2 eggs, ½ Nutmeg (grated), 2 tablespoonfuls rose water. Roll out long with hands and join in rings (very good).

We followed a similar recipe, and recommend adding some honey and powdered sugar on top of the jumbles. Furthermore, since the modern chef most likely does not cook by the pound (unlike a mother cooking for thirteen children), we modified the measurements to make a smaller number of these delicious cookies:


Makes 4-6 jumbles

  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Nutmeg (grated or powdered)
  • Honey and powdered sugar (to taste)


  1. Mix together flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and nutmeg in bowl until well-mixed
  2. Roll out dough and twist into pretzel shapes or simple twists
  3. Put onto baking pan and place in oven for 10-15 minutes at 400F
  4. Sprinkle powdered sugar or drizzle honey onto cookies for extra sweetness

Our Historical Recipe posts were prepared and written by Miranda Villesvik, one of Preservation Maryland’s Waxter Interns.  Miranda’s work with us includes blogging about historic food traditions of the Old Line State while she attends school at Vassar College in New York.  There she is pursuing a Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Greek and Roman Studies double major. Learn more about Miranda and our internship program here: presmd.org/waxter.

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