Here's how it came about: we were doing a Lord of the Rings marathon at my buddy Mike's house when the RotK extended edition came out. Mike has a 42" widescreen and a really kick ass surround sound system, so we got together at 9:00 AM on Saturday and watched all twelve-plus hours of the epic trilogy back to back. It was awesome.
Anyway, I wanted to contribute something so I started searching for recipes for Lembas bread. My efforts that year were futile, but flash forward to last Christmas. I got the hankering to try again, so I looked up some recipes online. This time I was successful in finding a bunch, but was wildly unhappy with the vast majority of them. It seemed stupid to me that everyone puts orange peel or citrus fruit into Lembas, when elves lived in a temperate climate in England.
So I set about to make my own, based on what we know of Lembas bread. Here's what Tolkien says about Lembas:
- They contain honey
- they are cream-colored on the inside with a light brown outer crust
- they are thin and regular-shaped (mine are rectangular).
- they are hearty and healthy. One cake is supposedly enough to sustain a man for a full day's march.
So without further ado, here it is: my recipe for Lembas. I am constantly tweaking this recipe; this is the most recent version and I am transcribing it here having just pulled a batch out of the oven not ten minutes ago. The final consistency of these is somewhere between a bread and a cookie, not unlike a shortbread.
1 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups of white flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons cold butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/2 – 3/4 cup milk*
1/4 cup apple juice or 1/2 fresh, peeled, finely-chopped apple
1/4 cup nuts (walnuts, pistachios, peanuts) (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
3. Chop butter into mixture with a pastry cutter or knead in with your fingers until you get a crumbly mixture.
4. Add sugar, honey, apple, and nuts, and mix. Note: if using apple juice, add in the next step with the milk.
5. Add milk and apple juice (if using juice). Stir with a fork or knead with hands until dough forms.
6. Roll the dough out about 1/2 inch thick.
7. Cut out 2-3 inch squares and transfer to a cookie sheet. Criss-cross each square from corner to corner with a knife.
8. Bake for about 12 minutes or until set and lightly golden. Makes 20 to 25 cakes.
*If using apple juice, 1/2 cup milk. If using fresh apple, 3/4 cup milk.