The Hobbit's Cram Cookies (vegan)

 reading time: 4 min

  (...) there they rested for a while and had such a breakfast as they could, chiefly cram and water. (If you want to know what cram is, I can only say that I don't know the recipe; but it is biscuitish, keeps good indefinitely, is supposed to be sustaining, and is certainly not entertaining, being in fact very uninteresting except as a chewing exercise. It was made by the Lake-men for long journeys).

The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien


Today is "Hobbit Day", and in honour of our fur-footed friends we are going to make cram cookies.

Apparently, cram is as tasty as it sounds – which is not very tasty! It is said to be of biscuit-like substance, nutritious (since they were used as sustenance on long journeys) and, well, pretty much flavourless. Kind of like hardtrack which is a biscuit made of flour, water and sometimes salt, that lasts for months, is hard and dry, and commonly used for long sea voyages or as military ration.

It doesn't sound very enjoyable, to say the least. But of course, Hobbits are fond of anything edible – and in The Hobbit the dwarves and Bilbo eat cram to sustain them on their journey to the Lonely Mountain. (I've always identified as a Hobbit – or a halfling: small, squarish, with dark blonde curly hair and a preference for a simple life, sitting in an armchair, gardening, reading and eating, that sort of thing, lol.)

Bilbo and the dwarves are ready to munch on some cram after a long unexpected journey. (source)

As we learn in The Fellowship of the Ring, when Gimli tastes Lembas for the very first time, cram is similar to the Elvish "waybread", though much less pleasant and not quite as filling.

But don't fret: My take on these "press cakes" is way more tasty than their flavourless and uninspiring original!
They are more like firm crumbly cookies that are very snack-friendly and great for hiking or long roadtrips.

Speaking of hiking, if you ever need a cheery hiking song, definitely check out the Hobbit Drinking Medley by Peter Hollens feat. Hank Green if you don't know it already – it's one of my favourite nerdy collabs of all time!

But back to the biscuits.

I based my cram recipe on the Italian almond biscuits biscotti, which – as I mentioned in my Beorn's honey cakes last year – are possibly where Tolkien got his idea for the various twice-baked hardtracks. The Latin (panis) biscoctus literally means "(bread) twice-baked". I combined that with the English Hobnob oat cookies, which are actually called "Hobbits" here in Germany.

And there you have it! My very own cram cookies. I'm sure Bilbo would take a bite at once.

By the way, how do you like my One Ring? It's actually my Dad's wedding ring, haha!


Preparation time: 45 mins
Main ingredients: oats, whole grain flour, almonds, vegan butter, sugar
difficulty level: easy
makes: 8 cookie bars
suitable for: vegan, lactose-free, yeast-free, low-sodium


Dry ingredients:
cup (100 g) rolled oats
1 cup (110 g) whole grain flour (I use spelt, but you can also use wheat)
1/4 cups (15 g) wheat germ
1/4 cup (20 g) ground nuts or nut flour (ground almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients:
3/4 cup (120 g) unsalted vegan butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (150 g) brown sugar packed
2 tbsp (50 g) golden syrup or raw honey
2 tbsp soy flour + 2 tbsp water
2 tbsp vegan whole milk or coconut milk (I use
Alpro Not M*LK)
1 tsp vanilla extract OR 2 tsp vanilla sugar

1 cup (140 g) almonds or other nuts, roughly chopped


Preheat oven 350 °F / 180 °C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a bowl, stir together the dry ingredients: oats, flour, wheat germ, ground nuts, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate large bowl, cream together the wet ingredients, using an electric whisk or stand mixer: vegan butter, sugar, golden syrup, soy flour, water, vegan whole milk or coconut milk, and vanilla extract. Beat well to combine.

Spoon in flour mixture bit by bit, and mix together using a dough hook. Make sure to scrape the bowl in-between.

Once everything is nicely combined, add your chopped nuts.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface or straight onto the parchment paper, and divide into about 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a square or rectangle, and arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Use a butter knife to trim the edges for a cleaner look.

Bake in the preheated oven at 350 °F / 180 °C for about 20 minutes, then remove and set aside to cool on a wire rack.

Flip cooled cookies and place them back on the baking tray upside down. Bake for another 10 minutes at the same temperature. If the cookies are not golden brown and crisp after 10 minutes, they are not ready! Leave them in the oven for a couple more minutes, keeping a close eye on them.

As soon as the cookies are golden brown, dry, firm and crisp all over, take them out of the oven and allow to cool on the wire rack.

Serve with warm milk or tea.

Enjoy immediately, or store in a tin or airtight container for a long hobbit journey, or at least 1 week at room temperature.

- Feel free to add dried fruits such as cranberries or raisins (or chocolate chips!!) to the mixture before baking for a more energy bar / granola / trail mix type of cookie.
- If you want to go the more "Hobnob oat cookie" way, you could instead shape your dough into discs, and perhaps dip them in melted vegan chocolate after baking and cooling!

Looking for more nerdy recipes? Check out some of my other LOTR-inspired creations: