“Eat 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 traveler on his feet for a day of long labour, even if he be one of the tall Men of Minas Tirith.“—The Fellowship of the Ring, “Farewell to Lorien“
It’s time for another fictional foray into the magical and mystical world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
While the books are timeless and are well worth the puruse for avid fantasy readers, it was the movies that really stole my tweenager heart and began a lifelong obsession where I’ve continued watch the movies (extended editions ONLY) at least once a year, well into my adulthood. In fact, Return of the King is playing in the background as I type this right now.
The Fellowship of the Ring is where it all begins – and where we are introduced to lembas bread, an elvish whey bread that could fill the stomach of a grown man with just one bite.
And as someone who appreciates bread more than the average person, I just knew it was the perfect recipe to make my way into the delicious lore surrounding Middle Earth.
While there are many recipes for lembas bread out there that are inspired by a more authentic take on how this bread was made in Lothlorien by the elves, I always fancied the actual recipe for lembas bread to be more akin to a focaccia – but with less air bubbles.
One thing is for sure, making your own lembas bread at home is easier than taking the One Ring to Mordor!
Authentic Lembas Bread
The elves passed this recipe from generation to generation (even Galadriel herself had a part to play in this recipe keeping intact) and is a closely guarded secret – however exceptions to who could consume it were made from time to time. It was light and slightly crisp, with an undertone of sweetness. Even Gimili enjoyed this bread!
In the books, lembas is a whey bread made from ground corn and seed. Like other food made by Elven hands, lembas bread could not be corrupted by evil and therefore couldn’t be eaten by those also corrupted themselves. Gollum was unable to take even the tiniest of bites.
The bread itself was likely inspired by real life bread that Tolkien would see consumed on long journies at sea, called “tack” – which was dried and meant to last many months on a ship.
Lembas Bread Ingredients
Here’s what you need to make your very own lembas bread with ingredients that can be found here in Middle Earth.
- flour – all-purpose flour or whole wheat will work for this recipe
- active dry yeast – activate the yeast in warm water until it is foamy and bubbling for best results
- warm water – 90°F to 110°F is the range we are looking to hit (any hotter will kill the yeast!)
- sugar – to give the yeast something to snack on
- fine salt – to evenly enhance flavor
- olive oil – for flavor and golden coloring
- Italian seasoning – I found specifically that “pizza seasoning” works great in this recipe
- finishing salt – I used Fleur de Sel (affiliate link) for my “salt from the Shire”
This recipe was based off this recipe from King Arthur for no-fuss focaccia.
Letting Lembas Rise
Like any bread, the rise time is the longest part of this recipe. There is a sweet spot to how long to let it rise – you don’t want too many large air pockets but also you don’t want to let it over proof. Focaccia dough is very, very wet so it takes a bit more time to rise than average dough – keep a close eye on your dough while proofing so it doesn’t become fragile looking. You want hearty shaped lumps, but no huge bubbles. This recipe creates a tighter crumb than your typical focaccia.
The dough should be doubled in size, but not bubbling up, when it is ready to be baked. It will still be pretty thin. I used a slightly larger pan than I intended to and spread the dough all the way to the edges to make the focaccia even thinner.
While we may not have access to mallorn leaves, which help keep real lembas bread fresh for weeks, this lembas bread is wrapped in parchment paper printed leaves that I went on my own long journey to obtain off of Amazon (affiliate link).
Check out the parchment leaves below:
To wrap the lembas, I placed two leaves back to back so that the inside of the wrapping was green as well. There’s just a little bit of misalignment – but I think it turned out pretty good looking!
If you want a more authentic option, banana leaves can also be used as a wrapping. I used butcher twine to tie the leaves around the bread prior to serving.
This bread can keep fresh in their parchment leaves – in an airtight container, preferrably chilled – for up to 3-4 days. Unlike the lembas on neverending journey, this lembas bread does keep longer under refridgeration.
Well, what do you think? Is this an authentic take on lembas bread? Are you excited for the new show or will you stick to the movies (or books)?
What Lord of the Rings inspired recipe should I take on next?
Let me know in the comments below!
And shout out to my hubby for hand making most of the wooden bowls and goblets in the photos – I asked him for “hobbit bowls” and he delivered! Follow his woodworking @ChuckandMoonbeam on Instagram.
Need more LOTR Recipes?
Lembas Bread | Lord of the Rings Inspired Recipes
- 1 ¾ cup flour
- 1 cup warm water 90°F – 110°F
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 packet active rise yeast
- 2 teaspoons fine salt
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning + more for topping, to taste
- 3 tablespoons olive oil for baking
- 3 tablespoons olive oil for topping
- 2 teaspoons Fleur de Sel or flaky salt, for topping, optional
- spray cooking oil optional
BUTTER RECIPE (OPTIONAL)
- 2 pints heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the water and sugar then sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the warm water and let develop for 15 minutes, or until the surface of the water is frothy and doubled in size.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and seasoning. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl of the stand mixer on medium speed. Continue to stir until a thick, sticky dough forms – about 10 minutes. Cover and let the dough rest 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, grease a baking sheet with olive oil then spray with cooking oil to help give the bread a crispy bottom. Pour the dough onto the baking sheet. DO NOT ROLL OR KNEAD THE DOUGH.
- Drizzle olive oil over the top of the dough. Use your fingertips to press through the dough to make divots. Gently tip the pan from side to side to help it reach almost all the way to the corners (it shouldn't fill the pan completely but should reach about 1/2 inch from the edges all the way around).
- Cover with plastic wrap greased with cooking spray. Let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in size – if your house is on the cooler side, this can take 90 minutes or longer.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Sprinkle additional Italian seasoning on top as desired. Bake for 20-30 minutes, checking every 5 minutes after the 20 minute mark, until the focaccia is puffed up and baked through. The bread should be pale but golden brown around the edges. It will be ready when it is pulling away from the edges of the pan.
- Let the bread cool on the pan on a cooling rack for 30 minutes. Then lift the bread from the pan and finish cooling on the rack.
- Finish the bread with the Fleur de Sel mixed with Italian seasoning to create a "salt from the Shire." Spread on homemade butter, jam and more! Enjoy with your best mate after a long journey to toss a ring in to a volcano.
For Butter (optional):
- Use a food processor to blend the heavy cream and salt until the cream begins to split. Drain the liquid every 5-10 seconds until a smooth, creamy butter forms. Season with salt to taste.