This is what he promised to do for them. He would provide ponies for each of them, and a horse for Gandalf, for their journey to the forest, and he would lade them with food to last them for weeks with care, and packed so as to be as easy as possible to carry-nuts, flour, sealed jars of dried fruits, and red earthenware pots of honey, and twice-baked cakes that would keep good a long time, and on a little of which they could march far. The making of these was one of his secrets; but honey was in them, as in most of his foods, and they were good to eat, though they made one thirsty….-The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
If you’ve ever dreamt of indulging in the delectable treats from the enchanting world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, you’re in for a treat! This twice-baked honey cake recipe is your passport to relishing the flavors of Middle Earth, perfect for your next Hobbit Day celebration.
The Hobbit’s Culinary Inspiration
Creating recipes inspired by beloved literary works, like The Hobbit, can be a journey of its own. Hours of research are invested to unearth the perfect rendition that aligns with the world Tolkien created. Fortunately, devoted fans have long scrutinized The Hobbit since it was published back in 1937, delving into its pages to unravel the intricacies of J.R.R. Tolkien’s enchanting world.
To find out more about cram, honey cake and lembas, I began my understanding from this Middle Earth/Tolkien blog.
Decoding Middle Earth’s Travel Fare
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s narrative, travel food is a category of its own. Like lembas and cram, twice-baked honey cake would be designed to last for a journey, providing sustenance.
Comparisons have been drawn between cram and hardtack, sturdy sea biscuits known for their longevity. The taste hierarchy is clear: lembas reigns supreme, while the honey cakes, as eloquently put by Gimli, rise above the ordinary.
” `Indeed it is,’ said Gimli. ‘Why it is better than the honey-cakes of the Beornings, and that is great praise, for the Beornings are the best bakers that I know of…”
High praise indeed!
Blending Tradition and Fantasy
There are several key factors to explore when it comes to Tolkein’s honey cakes. One factor is the technique of twice baking.
First of all, the word “biscuit” is derived from the Latin word biscoctus, derived from (panis) bis (“twice”) + coctus (“cooked”). Historically, double baking was used to extend the shelf life of foods, reducing their moisture content and helping them endure the rigours of long voyages across land and sea.
It was noted during the Middle Ages that both Italians and Scottish had a far tastier twice-baked hardtack recipe than English hardtack. The Italian sea biscuit ‘gallette’ and the Scottish ‘oatcakes’ are ones to explore as a base.
Given that these are honey cakes, suggests, however, that they are sweet in flavour.
It’s possible the inclusion of honey may be a nod to the historical use of honey, not only as a sweetener, but also as a preservative due to its high sugar concentration.
Given the following ‘cakes’ are likely to be served at a Hobbit day feast, I’ve taken the liberty of including some additional ingredients, more in line with Italian biscotti.Print