Lembas Bread Recipe
Originally published February 7, 2015. Updated on 10/27/20
I think it would be fun to bring it along on our journey (along with our Miruvor!): Cheaper than airport food, healthier - especially in light of the travel, looong hours, etc we are about to subject ourselves to - and, you know.. thematic.
Also, it involved creative problem solving, so a good way to keep me distracted while waiting!
What is Lembas Bread?
The facts are these...
Lembas is a type of Elvish bread / cake / biscuit from Tolkien's writings. First made by Yavanna from a special Elvish corn, it was nutritious, and known to be ridiculously sustaining - that "One small bite will fill the stomach of a grown man", etc.
It's generally theorized that Lembas was based on hard tack - a very dry and bland bread product used for military rations and some traditional Newfoundland cooking.
""Eat little at a time, and only at need. For these things are given to serve you when all else fails. The cakes will keep sweet for many many days, if they are unbroken and left in their leaf-wrappings, as we have brought them. One will keep a traveler on his feet for a day of long labour, even if he be one of the tall men of Minas Tirith." - Fellowship of the Rings
"The food was mostly in the form of very thin cakes, made of meal that was baked a light brown on the outside, and inside was the colour of cream." - Fellowship of the Ring
Tolkien has said that they contain honey, and the "fruit of the Mallorn tree", which was described as " Its fruit was a nut with a silver shale" in Unfinished Tales.
Oh, and as one other challenge to this little exercise? Half of our little fellowship is allergic to gluten.
So.. lots of random information to work with, in addition to my own assumptions... and nutritional goals for the finished product.
Designing This Lembas Bread Recipe
If I'm going to make something based on a book, I'm going to make it as "canon" as possible. So, here we go!
To me, I picture Lembas Bread as a sweet thing, but not a DESSERT thing. They straight up mention its sweetness, after all.
I picture some of the sweetness coming from the (canon!) honey, but also from dried fruit, which would contribute to the nutrition of it.
I think dried apples would work best given the colour description of the interior, but I think apricots are more in line with the flavour profile I'm picturing.
In terms of "fruit of the mallorn tree", I am choosing to interpret that as almonds.
Now, in terms of the nutritious / sustenance properties of Lembas... I wouldn't have used white flour even if we weren't working around gluten issues. There's just no real nutrition there.
I decided to use a small amount of masa flour, due to the canonical Lembas being corn based. As I have no access to Elven magical corn, it'll have to do 🙂
Also, I'm supplementing it with protein powder and ground flax to contribute to nutrition. Non-magical, non-Valar corn is only slightly more nutritious than wheat flour, after all.
Wrapping Your Lembas
While these Lembas biscuits can be stored in normal containers and served on plates like any other bread or cookie type product, where’s the fun in that?
If you have the time and inclination, may as well go the extra step and wrap them up in leaves... or “leaves”, if that works better for you.
As pictured, we used fresh collard greens to wrap our Lembas, then tied with some kitchen twine.
Another fresh option would be to use banana leaves, if you have access to them.
Both fresh leaf options are best if you’re going to use the Lembas the same day, I wouldn’t recommend them for longer term storage.
There are two main ways to do artificial leaves: Buy some large silk floral leaves at your local craft or floral supply shop, or make a “leaf” packaging from craft foam (which I detail below).
When you’re using either of these artificial leaf options, I recommend wrapping your Lembas in plastic wrap before using the “leaves”, as neither of these options is food grade on their own.
Craft Foam Leaves
If you’re looking for something with a bit more longevity - or is a bit more robust for journeys! - you can use craft foam.
When I’m making craft foam “mallorn leaves”, I make a template first, about the size of one Lembas, with about ½" border all around it.
From there, I draw a line out from the center of each side, an inch or two longer than the square itself.
Then, I joined each corner of the square to the end of each line, with a wide arc. This creates 4 “leaves” radiating out from the square, as shown below:
Place your wrapped Lembas in the middle of one foam piece (veining side down, if applicable), and wrap the “leaves” up and over the lembas.
Tie with kitchen twine. To secure.
This Lembas is terrific. It has a great taste - subtle, elegant, and complex.
It also has a nice texture - I deviated from the idea of hard tack, as that’s just not good eating. This Lembas Bread Recipe is actually pleasant to eat!
As an update on the trip, we had a GREAT time, met a lot of fun people, and yeah - the Lembas came in handy!
We posted a bunch of photos from the LA “One Last Party” trip to album on my Facebook costuming page. Check out that album here!
More Fandom Recipes!
Looking for more Tolkien - or just fandom in general - recipes? I’ve got you covered. Here are a few covering Tolkien, and Doctor Who, as well as some Convention Food recipes!
Also, if you're interested in gluten-free cooking and baking, you should definitely check out my gluten-free cookbooks: Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten Free Cooking & Baking, and the sequel... Beyond Flour 2. You can order them right here on my website, through Amazon, or through any major bookseller.
Share the Love!
Before you set off on your journey, be sure to take some pics of your handiwork! If you instagram it, be sure to tag me - @CelebrationGenerationCA - or post it to My Facebook Page - so I can cheer you on!
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Well, the published nonsense, anyway!
Anyway, on to that Lembas recipe!
- 1 cup butter softened
- ⅓ cup honey
- 2 tablespoon milk
- ½ cup masa flour
- ½ cup gluten-free oat flour can use millet instead
- ½ cup vanilla protein powder*
- ½ cup Sliced almonds
- ½ cup Thinly sliced dried apricots
- ¼ cup coconut flour
- ¼ cup Ground flax seed flax meal
- 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon Cardamom
- ¼ Rosemary finely crumbled/chopped
- corn starch for rolling
- Mix butter and honey together just until combined – do not cream it or over beat it. Add milk, gently mix until combined and smooth
- In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Add dry mix to butter and honey, mix until combined. Wrap dough in plastic film, chill for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Generously sprinkle clean work surface with corn starch, roll dough to ½″ thick. Cut into 3″ squares, and carefully transfer biscuits to prepared baking sheets, leaving 2″ between each. Cut a shallow “X” into each cake, if desired.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly golden. Allow cakes (biscuits?) to cool on cookie sheets for at least 5 minutes before moving, cool completely before serving.
- If you want to get fancy with it, wrap them in leaves, and tie with twine. (I used collard greens).