Monday, September 22, 2014

A Hobbit Picnic

In case you weren't paying attention to your calendar, today is Hobbit Day. Actually, every September 22 is Hobbit Day. That's Bilbo and Frodo Baggins's shared birthday, don't you know. Tolkien lovers have long gathered annually for their own Long Awaited Party, complete with food and drink, costumes for the brave, and games for the young at heart.

Several of us graduate-student types got together in a park over the weekend for a potluck picnic and a general celebration of nerdiness. I tried to channel the Shire in a Czech peasant blouse and a straw hat, while O. wore her green Elven cloak. The star of the party was undoubtedly R.'s Lembas bread. In the books, when the members of the Fellowship of the Ring leave the Elven kingdom of Lothlorien, they are given provisions, including a kind of magical hardtack that keeps for a long time and is very filling. The recipe below is for a sort of honeyed scone that's good by itself but delicious with real whipped cream and/or strawberry jam.

Elven Lembas Bread II

2 ½ cups of flour 
1 tablespoon of baking powder 
¼ teaspoon of salt 
½ cup of butter 
1/3 cup of brown sugar 
1 teaspoon of cinnamon 
½ teaspoon honey 
2/3 cup of heavy whipping cream (or...half-and-half)
½ teaspoon of vanilla 

Preheat oven to 425°F. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter and mix well till fine granules (easiest way is with an electric mixer). Then add the sugar and cinnamon, and mix them thoroughly. Finally, add the cream, honey, and vanilla and stir until a nice, thick dough forms. 

Roll the dough out about 1/2 in thickness. Cut out 3-inch squares and transfer the dough to a cookie sheet. Criss-cross each square from corner-to-corner with a knife, lightly (not cutting through the dough). Bake for about 12 minutes or more (depending on the thickness of the bread) until it is set and lightly golden. 

Let cool completely before eating. This bread tastes better room temperature and dry. For more flavor you can add more cinnamon or other spices.

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