Looking for an appropriate recipe to go with Iain Pears' An Instance Of The Fingerpost I came across New College Pudding with Sweet White Sauce - Oxford's New College is the scene of the murder which is at the heart of the book - but I thought that for the good of our health I'd pass over these suet dumplings deep fried in butter.
A little more searching took me to a recipe for Jumbals or sugar cakes, very much of the period, and using the same spices and sack as the dumplings. With a nod to the Venetian medic da Cola, the narrator of the first of the book's four parts, I substituted marsala for the sack, and omitted the egg as is suggested. I added some ground almonds to the two flours, used both caster and soft light brown sugar (again as Charlotte Betts advises - see the comments on the recipe post) and didn't skimp on the spices. Instead of rolling and cutting out rounds I pressed the mixture into a baking tin, pricked the surface with a fork and scored it to mark squares, then I baked it for 25 minutes, filling the house with a delectable fragrance.
This spicy, almondy shortbread is well worth making, and for more on the book itself click here.