Monday, December 20, 2004

Pseudo Lembas

On Sunday, I went to an informal Christmas potluck, hosted by the local chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Since this wasn't a formal SCA event, we weren't required to bring "period" (i.e. pre-1600 European) dishes.

I was put on the list of people that was supposed to bring a bread or starch dish. So I brought ... lembas. As in the legendary Elvish traveler's biscuit as popularized in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

Actually, to be more accurate, this was a "pseudo"-lembas. The recipe I used came off the web, courtesy of the Fading Trees fansite. This form of lembas can be thought of as a cinnamon biscuit, as opposed to the shortbread-like packet that Peter Jackson used (and, according to DVD commentary, nibbled on during takes) for his filmed version of the trilogy.

(There's a different recipe available at the Tolkien fansite, but that one uses self-rising flour which I don't have at the moment. I may try it later.)

I found it pretty good the first time I made it, and so did the other diners at the potluck. So I'll reproduce the recipe here.


2 1/2 cups of flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tablespoons cold butter (1 stick, cut into 8 pieces)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup milk or heavy cream (heavy cream is recommended)
1/2 tsp vanilla
honey, homemade jam or maple syrup for dipping

1. Preheat over to 425 degrees.
2. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

3. Add butter and mix with a fork or pastry cutter until mixture looks like fine granules. (This part will take a fair bit of work.)
4. Add sugar and cinnamon; mix well.
5. Add milk and vanilla and stir with a fork until a stiff dough forms.
(You can add up to 1/4 cup more milk to moisten, if you have trouble incorporating all of the mixture into the dough.)
6. Roll into balls and place on cookie sheet, mashing them out
until they are about 1/2 inch thick and 3 inches across. You should have enough dough to make 12 - 14 biscuits.
7. Bake for about 12 to 14 minutes. They're done if you poke a toothpick into one and it comes out dry.

Serve with honey, homemade jam or maple syrup on the side.

An important note: if you have baking powder in your cupboard but haven't baked in the past few months, check its potency by dissolving a little in cold water. If you don't hear it fizz, it's gone flat and you'll need to buy fresh.


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