Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Lembas Recipe


When throwing a Middle Earth party, having lembas is pretty much a requirement. The much-lauded (except by Gollum) Elvish waybread is supposed to be very nutritious, enough to sustain a grown man of Minas Tirith for a day's labour. Dinner table discussion concluded that if that were truly the case, you might as well hand everyone a Tiger's Milk nutrition bar and be done with it. Unfortunately, lembas is also supposed to be tasty. Most of the recipes out there err on the side of tasty instead of sustaining, and while I don't think it's possible to make real lembas here in Ordinary Earth, I can at least try for something slightly more authentic. Because, you know, there needs to yet another lembas recipe out there on teh interwebs.

My lembas is more like Scottish shortbread than the thin cakes Tolkien describes, my reasoning being that the high butter content gives it the necessary calories for a day's worth of work. I also used almond meal along with flour in order to up the protein content without resorting to those nasty powders from the Vitamin Shoppe. Many of the extant lembas recipes I looked at also called for honey as a sweetener, the reasoning being that lembas is described only as being better than the Beornings' honey-cakes, and not that they necessarily use honey to make lembas. For that reason, I chose to stick to sugar. In the future, I may experiment with honey, though, as it really is better for you than sugar.

Recipe:
1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
0.5 cups sugar
2 tsp almond extract
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup almond meal (I got mine at Trader Joe's, but you could throw frozen almonds into a food processor to make your own if you can't buy it at your grocery store)
0.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon

Cream together the butter, sugar, and almond extract. Try to get it as light and fluffy as you can. Fold in the flour, almond meal, baking powder, and cinnamon as best as you can, but you will eventually need to use your hands to really work all the ingredients together into a dough. Divide the dough into two portions, rolling each half into a log. Flatten the sides of the log so that they are kind of rectangular with rounded corners. Wrap the logs tightly in plastic wrap, chill for an hour, then cut into 3/8" slices. If so desired, use a butter knife to carve runes into the surface (I suggest the G tengwar for Galadriel). Bake for 25-30 minutes in a 300 degree oven, until the outside is a very light golden brown. I made about 30 pieces of lembas from this batch. They can be stored in an airtight container for several days.

I got tired of carving Gs into the surface very quickly, so I resorted to using tiny cookie cutters to make Bill the Pony/Fatty Lumpkin, Gollum's fish (because having a fish on top makes it slightly more palatable?), and Radagast's woodland critter friends instead. 


The cookies made from this recipe feel more substantial and not quite as dessert-y as a cookie normally is; the texture is similar to shortbread and they are crumbly and buttery and only a little sweet. The almond makes for a lovely aroma that seems appropriately mallorn-y. With the wealth of lembas recipes out there, I don't expect this one to surface in searches, but if you're reading this and just want a pleasant almond shortbread, you don't have to call it lembas if you don't want!

I still have one more LOTR/party-related post to go (but at least it's about sewing), and then I promise I'll be back to normal!

15 comments:

  1. These are so cool! What a great idea!

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  2. I'm sure they're delicious! All my favourite ingredients, with maybe a variation with ginger... good for the warmth in the belly? :-)
    Loved reading about your party and happy for you that you enjoyed it. You are so knowledgeable about all things Tolkien and I'm a great fan of themes that are carried through so consistently.

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    1. Oooh, some ginger would definitely be a nice addition. I mean really, you could sub out the almond extract for any flavor. Thanks for your kind words about my geekfest party; I love doing themed details so I'm glad they were appreciated!

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  3. Ooo, they sound really yummy! I think I must try a batch. And a Trader Joe's just opened down the street from me a couple months ago. =)

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    1. Oh man, I love Trader Joe's...although I will always be slightly angry that they stopped making hazelnut meal too, in addition to their almond meal!

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  4. Brilliant recipe! Looks like you had a fantastic party, Happy Belated Birthday!!

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  5. I have a stupid question please: we don't have sticks of butter in England so what on middle earth do you mean?! How much in weight is a stick please? I've always wondered when reading American recipes but haven't dared ask. Now I must know. Thanking you!

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    1. Haha I didn't even think about that! A stick of butter is 4 oz., so this recipe requires half a pound of butter (or 230 grams) total.

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    2. Thanks Cindy! Now I won't feel so stupid every time a stick is mentioned in a recipe!

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  6. I'm going to have to try this, I need something to sustain me through my (not-so) grueling work :)

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    1. Heh, these are probably better for that purpose, as I don't think they would really work so well for hard labor!

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