Adapted from a recipe by Derek C.
Lembas Bread is travel bread; it should be nourishing, compact and sturdy. In quick breads the point is to knead the dough as little as possible, so that your bread soft and crumbly. For travel bread you want just the opposite. You want to knead the bread as much as you can to create the gluten that will make the bread tough, dense, and transportable without falling apart.
The more you knead the dough the less it will rise when you cook it. The goal here is a flat, dense, hard tack biscuit. Pricking the dough will also allow the steam to escape and prevent the bread from puffing up. This is not desirable in travel bread.
I feel I must add just a note about the eggs. The eggs make this bread very nutritious. However, the elves have the secret of permanent preservation. I and, most probably, you do not have this secret technique. This being the case, you will probably want to eat all of your bread in a few days as Sauron’s revenge is no fun.
To make this travel bread long lasting, replace the eggs with water. It will, of course, be less sustaining than this recipe. However, the hard tack biscuit that it creates should keep for months.
After the Meal Note: As I suspected they ate every last scrap of lembas bread. In fact, they have requested that I make a second batch for dinner. These taste like a warm, soft, orangey, graham cracker. I may never find out what they taste like cold and hard.
Karl’s Lembas Bread
½ cup of orange honey (or clover)
¼ tsp. orange extract
1 Navel orange, zested
3+ cups bread flour
1½ cups almonds, coarsely ground
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1. Several days before you plan to make this bread, but at least the day before, mix the honey, orange extract and orange zest. Warm the mixture slightly and stir. Let it sit on the counter, covered with some plastic wrap.
Tip: After the orange peel is zested, the bitter compounds will start to break into the flavorful components that are associated with “orangeyness.” Five days to a week is best, but you will get a good effect overnight.
2. Mix 2 cups of flour, the almond meal and salt in a large bowl until combined.
3. Remove 1½ cups of the dry ingredients and set them aside.
4. Lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla and warm the honey.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the remaining dry ingredients in the bowl to make a wet batter. Mix thoroughly.
6. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix well, until it starts to form a ball.
7. Turn the dough ball out onto a floured surface and knead for 15 to 25 minutes.
Tip: Use plenty of extra flour while you are kneading. You want the dough to be fairly dry. The longer you knead the dough the tougher and denser it will be.
8. Work in the remaining cup of flour until the dough ball is only slightly tacky.
Tip: A good bread board and a dough scrapper are very useful tools at this point.
9. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Tip: This rest allows the flour to absorb the moisture completely.
10. Roll the dough out into a ¼ inch thick sheet.
Tip: The dough will be very tight and elastic. Roll the dough to about half an inch and then cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 5 minutes before continuing to roll it out. If necessary, let it rest a second time to reach a thin even sheet.
11. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into squares about 3½ inches on a side. Make one deep score from one corner to the opposite corner.
Note: I remembered lambas bread as being equilateral triangles, but the scene introducing them came up right after lunch. Correction is made.
Tip: Gather any scraps at the edges, knead them into a ball and roll it flat again. Continue cutting until the dough is used up.
12. Use a fork to poke 10+ holes in each square.
13. Place each square half an inch apart on a parchment covered baking tray.
14. Bake at 325° F for 20 minutes.
Tip: Check the oven about every 5 minutes. If any of the breads are starting to puff up poke them down with a fork.
15. Remove to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 400° F.
16. Return the lembas to the oven and bake another 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
Tip: The first cooking dries out the breads and prevents them from puffing up. The second bake finishes off their toasting.
17. Remove to a wire rack and cool slightly.
18. Serve warm or cold.
Tip: Jan loved them warm with a smear of Irish butter and Karl’s marmalade.
Note: In the unlikely event that any of them last more than two days, refrigerate.