Mr. Tumnus’ Toasty Muffin Bread: Baking Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia by Astrid Tuttle Winegar
The world of Narnia is certainly filled with references to food. I’ve just recently read the series again, for maybe the billionth time. This time, however, I made a point of paying closer attention to the food/drink references to see if anything might inspire me to create something. C. S. Lewis constantly refers to basic fruits, vegetables, meats, fishes, breads, and cakes. And he always refers to beverages; specifically WATER, which almost begs to be spelled in all capital letters because of its spiritual significance. But he also refers to beer and wine quite often. I’ll leave it to other scholarly writers to discuss these loftier themes and limit myself to (what I hope will be) some delicious recipes inspired by the wonderful world of Narnia. I’ll sprinkle these in when I need a break from Middle-earth (how could you ever need a break from Middle-earth? Sacrilege! Calm down…).
Lucy Pevensie spends an afternoon with her first acquaintance in Narnia, the faun Mr. Tumnus. He treats her to a tea that is so substantial it sounds more like a Sunday dinner. They have some toast with sardines, some with butter, and some with honey. They also have lightly boiled brown eggs and a sugar-topped cake (recipe to come). This particular recipe will complement any sort of savory or sweet accompaniment you could possibly desire.
You could also follow Edmund’s lead in Prince Caspian, who said “I shouldn’t mind a good thick slice of bread and margarine this minute” after eating way too many apples. Cut your loaf into thinner slices for some sustaining sandwiches, such as Tirian eats in The Last Battle (add hard-boiled eggs, cheese, and a mystery “paste”). Or wax nostalgic as Tirian later does—”The very smell of the bread-and-milk he used to have for supper came back to him.”
“Mr. Tumnus’ Toasty Muffin Bread”
¾ cup buttermilk
¾ cup water
3¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1½ tablespoons cornmeal
Combine the buttermilk and water in a 2-cup glass measure. Microwave on high for 1 minute; let stand.
Combine 2¼ cups flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and soda in a large bowl (preferably a stand mixer). Add the buttermilk mixture and mix on a low speed until combined well. Add the final 1 cup flour and mix on low speed for a couple of minutes. Coat a 4½” by 8½” glass loaf pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cornmeal in pan and shake pan to distribute on bottom and up the sides. Press dough into the pan—flour your fingers to assist with pressing it down. Sprinkle the remaining cornmeal all over the top. Cover with a towel and let rise in a draft-free place for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°. Bake 30 minutes. Let stand on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on rack for 30 minutes before cutting. Cover and store at room temperature.
This is a lovely, plain bread, fresh out of the oven. For leftovers, slice and toast until golden brown for a sort of English Muffin crispiness. It complements any sort of soup/stew/chili you can imagine and can be dressed up in savory and sweet ways.
Astrid Tuttle Winegar
Astrid Tuttle Winegar is the author of Cooking for Halflings & Monsters: 111 Comfy, Cozy Recipes for Fantasy-Loving Souls, which is currently available exclusively in e-book form on the Amazon Kindle, but will soon be released by Oloris Publishing! Stay tuned for details. For now, she is mostly telling a culinary Middle-earth story here on Legendarium. Astrid has loved C. S. Lewis since childhood, J. R. R. Tolkien since middle and high school, all Star things, both Trek and Wars, all things Whedon, and many other things besides… She lives in the enchanted city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband and dog. She blogs occasionally at http://halflingsandmonsters.wordpress.com/. You can check out (and like!) her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/astridtuttlewinegar?ref=hl or visit her Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/astridwinegar.