Greetings! In the third week of December I caught the finale of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, one of the two pivotal film series that shaped my childhood and imagination (the other being Harry Potter of course!). I stepped out of the theatre teary-eyed from the fact that it was the last installment, and also because of being deeply touched by the riveting lyrics of The Last Goodbye by Billy Boyd.
The movie awakened the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) geek in me and I started browsing the web on lotr-inspired content, from movie reviews to lotr cuisines. And this was when I learnt about the Elvish Lembas Bread, amongst the many other cool Hobbitian fare, Orcian poisons and Dwarf beers.
If your knowledge on LOTR is nothing more than a yawning black hole, let me enlighten. Lembas, also called Way bread, was a special bread made by the Elves of Tolkien’s books. They were described as pocket-sized, light brown on the outside and cream-colored on the inside, and supposedly tastier than most other snacks of Middle Earth. More importantly, this bread very nutritious and filling, meant to be a type of superfood for sustenance on long journeys. Well, if you take the word of dashing Legolas, “one small bite is enough to fill the stomach of a grown man.” For travelling purposes Lembas was wrapped in Mallorn leaves, and could stay fresh for many days this way. It is the all-important life-sustaining bread that fuelled Frodo and Sam on their quest to destroy the one ring in the fiery lava of Mount Doom.
The secret of Lembas was very closely guarded, befitting of the mysterious aura of the Elves. It was made only for those embarking on a long journey into the wild, and forbidden from anyone not of Elvish blood such as Men, except on very special occasions. Since the selfish elves refuse to share their recipe, let’s devise one for the race of Men!
The criteria: to be nutritious and filling, likely similar to a dense flatbread, and preferably light cream colored. A quick search of the web reveals tons of Lembas bread recipes, such as Veggietorials. However I am not one to copy someone else’s recipe, so here is my version, slightly adapted from the Banavocado Bread.
Flour – a mix of oat flour, almond/cashew flour, and coconut flour. The first two flours are high protein which will help provide satiety while coconut flour adds density and a lovely fragrant flavor.
Sweetener – date syrup. I would have preferred to use a lighter colored syrup such as honey or maple but dates was all I had.
Oil – coconut oil.
Binder – flax and chia seed gel. Not only do this seeds act as a binder through their mucilaginous properties, they high fibre and protein content will contribute to a dense and filling Lembas. The perfect fit!
Others – banana and avocado puree. These ingredients add moisture and sweetness so that less oil and sweetener is needed.
For some reason or other, Lembas is always scored with an ‘X.’ The Lembas was shaped, frozen and pre-sliced before baking them on low (60 degrees Celsius) for 4 hours. The outsides were darker than I would have liked, but the innards were cream-colored, loyal to the book description.
It was neither crisp nor biscuit-like, but dense yet soft and moist with an ethereal melt-in-the-mouth quality. Have you ever had a bread or muffin melt in the mouth? This is it! I think it is because of the high wet-to-dry ingredient ratio. While one slice may not satisfy a really hungry man as the Elves claimed, I promise it will at least more than satisfy your inner nerd and fan-dom by the simple act of knowing you are consuming the super Lembas! Why not give it a try today? Spoon over a puddle of nut butter and a smattering of nuts, and wash it all down with Aragon’s Athelas Tea!
Lembas may be made into balls too – simply chill the batter until stiff and flexible enough to scoop out into balls, then bake or dehydrate them as per the bread form.
- ½ cup oat flour
- ¼ cup coconut flour
- ¼ cup almond or cashew flour
- 1 tablespoon maca powder (optional, for added "strength")
- ½ cup banana puree (from 1½ large ripe bananas)
- ¼ cup avocado puree (from ½ large ripe avocados)
- 2 tablespoons date syrup or other liquid sweetener
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons chia seed
- 4 teaspoons flax meal
- 6 tablespoons water
- Pinch of sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- In a small bowl, mix chia, flax and water. Set aside for 15 minutes until it forms a gel.
- In a large bowl, sift the flours. You could use any gluten-free flour mix, but I like the combination of oat, coconut and nut flour.
- In a food processor, add banana, avocado, coconut oil, syrup, the chia/flax gel and a pinch of salt. Puree to a smooth batter.
- Gently mix the wet ingredients into the flour. Do not over mix or your Lembas will be tough.
- Form the dough into a ball and refrigerate for one hour or freeze for 30 minutes before rolling out.
- Flour your rolling pin and work surface.
- Roll dough out to ½-inch thick and cut into squares or rectangles.
- Bake at 140F for 6-7 hours until firm, flipping halfway through.
- When completely cool, wrap each slice in a large piece of banana leaf and secure with hemp twine.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days
This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and has been triple-tested. Leave out the avocado puree for a less moist version.