Recipes from the Elves: Lembas by Astrid Tuttle Winegar
Lembas is a delicacy produced by Tolkien’s Elves. Tolkien describes them as having “the form of very thin cakes, made of a meal that was baked a light brown on the outside and inside was the colour of cream.” In Peter Jackson’s movie The Fellowship of the Ring, the Fellowship is given a generous supply for their journey. They apparently are yummy and the hobbit Pippin Took has eaten some. The scene goes like this: Legolas, speaking wistfully: “Lembas…Elvish waybread. One small bite is enough to fill the stomach of a grown man.”
(The Hobbits, Merry and Pippin, look a bit oddly at him and nod at this information. Legolas turns away.)
Merry: “How many did you eat?”
(Pippin kind of burps; Merry picks his teeth. The film depicts lembas as triangular, about a half an inch thick with three inch sides; they are a creamy color. Four would be rather a lot, especially since they were probably sent on their way with a substantial breakfast…)
½ cup soft salted butter
⅓ cup sugar
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon each:
cream of tartar
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon turbinado (raw) sugar
Set oven rack to the level right above the middle level. Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray or grease lightly. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the cream and mix just until fully combined and smooth.
Break off about a fourth of the dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll or pat this out to about ⅛”. Cut 16 small decorations and carefully set these aside (I like to use a small star shape). Take the scraps and add to the other dough; knead a few times to incorporate. Divide this dough in half. Roll or pat one half to a circle measuring 6-7″ and ¼” thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 8 wedges. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Lay the decorations near the wider edge of each wedge. Spray all lightly with water. Sprinkle evenly with the turbinado sugar.
Lay each carefully on the prepared sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes, until they are very lightly browned on the bottom. Let stand on sheet 2 minutes. Carefully place on a rack. Store covered at room temperature. Makes 16.
These are known as Crustula Vitae in my cookbook.
Astrid Tuttle Winegar
Astrid Tuttle Winegar is the author of Cooking for Halflings & Monsters: 111 Comfy, Cozy Recipes for Fantasy-Loving Souls, which is currently available exclusively in e-book form on the Amazon Kindle, but will soon be released by Oloris Publishing! Stay tuned for details. For now, she is mostly telling a culinary Middle-earth story here on Legendarium. Astrid has loved C. S. Lewis since childhood, J. R. R. Tolkien since middle and high school, all Star things, both Trek and Wars, all things Whedon, and many other things besides… She lives in the enchanted city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband and dog. She blogs occasionally at http://halflingsandmonsters.wordpress.com. You can check out (and like!) her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/astridtuttlewinegar or visit her Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/astridwinegar.