This week on The Great DPPL Bake-Along:
We bake lembas bread, the famous food of the Elves from The Lord of the Rings.
According to Legolas, one bite can fill the stomach of a grown man!
We’ll share our results, our recipes, and a little bit about our chosen stories on this blog.
AND we invite YOU to bake along with us.
Share what you make by tagging us with #DPPLBakes, send us your favorite recipes, or just enjoy reading our entries.
[The Elves answered]: ' ...we call it lembas or way bread, and it is more strengthening than any food made by Men, and it is more pleasant than cram, by all accounts.'
'Indeed it is' said Gimli. 'Why, it is better than the honey-cakes of the Beornings…”
'All the same, we bid you spare the food,' they said. Eat a 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 traveller on his feet for a day of long labour."
-The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
I’ve been obsessed with the Lord of the Rings ever since the entire 7th grade at Plum Grove Junior High went to go see the first movie in theaters in 2001.
My 12-year-old self actually cried that Christmas Eve because the star Elf, Legolas Greenleaf of the Woodland Realm, wasn’t real.
(I was a peculiar kid.)
While I no longer cry over Legolas, the story still sticks deeply with me.
The idea of Frodo Baggins, a small and unassuming Hobbit, having to undergo a journey to save the entirety of Middle-earth with the help and support of the other eight members of the Fellowship.
(Okay, maybe it can still make me tear up.)
My obsession bleeds over into a lot of areas of my life: my wedding was low-key LOTR themed, and for the past three months, we’ve been reading books to my daughter. So when I thought about what to bake, of course I chose lembas bread.
Lembas bread, the magical Elven food, sustains the Fellowship on their arduous journey.
Here’s what Tolkien tells us about lembas:
"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."
We also know it’s sweet and that the Elves wrap them in Mallorn leaves to keep them fresh.
There are many different recipes online for lembas since those are very wide parameters!
After a lot of searching, I chose one that looked the simplest to replicate— it only had three ingredients: 1) flour, 2) butter, and 3) honey. I used honey from my friend’s parents’ beehives, which has a delicious flowery taste. I was a little skeptical of the bare-bones instructions, but decided to go with it anyway.
This ended up being a mistake.
My lembas bread turned out… like food you would be grateful for on a long journey.
By the third book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King, Frodo and Sam are sick of lembas, for even though it gives them strength, “it [does] not satisfy desire.”
My lembas also did not satisfy desire.
The ratios of butter and flour were off— it was super buttery and crumbly— and not sweet enough. Despair!
I’ll eat them anyway (or feed them to my daughter) but I cannot in good conscience have you replicate my failed recipe, so instead I’m passing along my favorite shortbread recipe.
The shortbread it makes is a sweet, thin cake, light brown on the outside, with an inside the color of cream— so it fits the description of lembas!
To make them more lembas-like, cut the dough into 3-inch squares. Score them on the diagonal before baking.
After cooling, wrap them in a Mallorn leaf.
(If you’re not able to find the Elven plant, you can wrap them in green paper, or put them in a Tupperware.)
I hope you eat your lembas with the enthusiasm of Sam in the first book, not Sam in the third book!
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is available together on Overdrive as an ebook.
You can also listen to this full-cast eaudiobook adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring while you bake.
We hope you enjoyed this first edition of the Great DPPL Bake-Along.
Check back in two weeks for another delicious installment!