Pastries - Hobbit Style

by Laiquendi

One day long ago, in a land where shoes are forbidden and dinnertime rules, there lived three little Hobbits. They were fairly ordinary, as Hobbits go, not prone to many adventures or likely to solve world issues, yet still there was something not quite right about these three Hobbits. For they were afflicted with the most terrible of curses, that of the sweeticus toothofici! Prone to seek out delicious delicacies wherever they may lay; on window ledges or shelves, in packets or on sticks, it was this that drew them to that most appetizing of places, the Tower of Orthanc…

After a long and slightly disturbing journey on the back of a garbage cart, they finally arrived at the mysterious place, salivating at the prospect of finding new and scrumptious snacks. Inside they crept, sniffing and licking, search for ever more tasty desserts and puddings that may be hidden within those obsidian walls. For the three Hobbits had heard of the great powers of the wizard in that tower, like the time Old Longjaw was given an everlasting gobstopper as a reward for a delivery. It would never shrink or sour, no matter how hard you tried, eventually leading to his death when he was accidentally frightened during someone’s birthday party and it became lodged in his throat. Even better was Mrs Wobblebottom’s sticky toffee surprise, which she claimed to have been given the recipe from a man most unsavoury, was so thick that half of the Hobbits in Hardbottle had their mouths stuck together for almost two days. Although it was later agreed that they needed a good diet anyway.

So it was with great trepidation and anticipation that our three Hobbits slowly climbed the steps inside the tower, following the smells of hot apple pies and strawberry tarts wafting teasingly towards them. Carefully avoiding the minions and other bizarre creatures that roamed those halls. In no time at all they stumbled upon a rack of cooling desserts all laid out in a row on a shelf, and before you could say blooming blueberries, all the pies had vanished into their eager awaiting mouths.

But our Hobbit’s luck was not with them that day and as the last crumbs of crust passed their lips a great voice boomed out from nowhere,

“Hobbits three that prey on me,
Come and get your due;
I will find and on you bind
A spell that shall eat you!”

Scared beyond belief, and also slightly bloated from eating too quickly, the three Hobbits fled from the scene as fast as their shorts legs could carry them. For, as anyone with any sense can tell you, you should be deathly afraid of wizards, even more so of inexplicable non-corporeal voices of wizards if they tried to rhyme! In the dead of night they fled from the tower, hitching a ride in barrels of peanuts on the long trip back to the Shire. Concealed from sight, and amid mouthfuls of the salty nuts, they swore an oath never to speak of these events again, unless of course it made them famous, in which case they were doomed.

Now the first of these Hobbits, a Gamgee by name, was slightly slower than the other two, and also slightly fatter. He could never refuse a meal, and the local gossip tells that he once ate his way through seven courses without even once burping! However his wife was not so grateful, and had finally banished him to eat in the barn after dripping custard on the bedsheets, to say nothing of the apple crumble he kept in the sock drawer. And so he was sitting amid the hay eating a custard tart when along came skipped a young Hobbit lass with a basket. She had pigtails in her hair, and a cunning smile, as she stopped to stare at our Hobbit.

“Oh fat sir, from one who bakes, would you like one of my cakes?” She called out, retrieving a cream cake from the basket and holding it up to him. With only the slightest of hesitations he reached to take offered dessert. Just as his chubby fingers touched the sticky bun a blinding flash of light engulfed the little girl, throwing him back on the hay. In her place stood an old man in white, his long face and beard grinning menacingly down on him, although this appearance was broken slightly by the fact that his long white hair was still tied up in pigtails behind his head. A tall black walking stick replaced the basket at his side, as he slowly lowered the pointed end towards the shocked and sticky Hobbit

“Hobbit now I do declare, turn into a chocolate éclair!” The old man cried as a brilliant bolt of light shot from his staff and swallowed up the fat Hobbit. In his place was left a thick and creamy éclair, top with a smooth layer of chocolate, which the old man promptly ate with a satisfied grin. “Hobbits do make the best desserts…” he said as he licked his lips with a smile and skipped off down the road.

It didn’t take long for the news of the first Hobbit’s demise to get around, mostly due to the mad ramblings of his wife, and the second of the three Hobbits was starting to get nervous. A Brandybuck was he, proud and noble, with a delight in all things unusual.
In a paranoid frenzy he decided that the best thing to do, over the protests of his wife, was move his entire house to the tallest branches of one of the nearby trees. Carpenters and woodsmiths from all over the Shire called him insane, his family disowned him for even conceiving of the idea, and most people thought he’d probably plummet to his death before the week was over.

Yet he eventually prevailed and shut himself away in his rickety treehouse fearing the arrival of the troublesome wizard and his deadly portents. So it was a cautious eye that he cast upon the basket of double chocolate muffins that appeared at the foot of his tree, a large note attached to the top saying, “Eat me”.

He resisted for at least three hours before noticing the gathering clouds on the horizon, heavy and black. Fearing the soggy demise of the soft and fluffy cakes as it began to rain, he crept out slowly from his hideaway then climbed swiftly down the tree. Just as he reached out to grab the basket an old man with pigtails leaped out from behind him, the staff in his hand held high.
“Muffins will expand that gut, now turn into a jam doughnut!” The old man cried as a brilliant bolt of light shot from his staff and engulfed the second Hobbit. Within seconds the Hobbit was replaced with a large, round bun decorated with sprinkles on the top. A broad smile filled his face as the old man quickly scooped up the doughnut, and the muffins, and settled down to a nice picnic in the rain.

Now the third Hobbit, a Baggins if you asked, was rather more intelligent than his two deceased compatriots. He came from a long line of Baggins bakers, and knew exactly how to handle the situation. Taking out a small loan, he established a little bakery in the middle of town selling everything from crêpes to croissants, pies to pastries. Unsurprisingly, it was a very profitable venture given the nature of Hobbits, and soon the profits were rolling in. He did not fear the eventual arrival of the old man despite the looks of amazement on many of the faces he saw, for he knew the secret to winning this battle. And so when one day an old man in pigtails walked up to his bakery and saw the ‘Closed for lunch’ sign, there came a knock on the door.

“Hobbit hands that ate my pie, come out now and surely die!” The old man cried as he lifted his staff into the ‘nuisance’ position. But the Hobbit did not come out, and the old man was fairly perplexed by this turn of events, especially since it looked like he had stiff competition on the dessert battlefield. After several attempts to knock down the door, there came a shuffle from inside.

“Wise old man whose pies we steal, I come now here to offer a deal.” Came the voice of the Hobbit. “In return for my freedom, I agree to give you the recipe for my Danish pastry (known throughout the Shire as the most flaky and sweet pastry you have ever tasted), and a 15% share in the profits from my bakery… with generous stock options!”

All the gathered onlookers held their collective breath as the old man seemed to waver before the Hobbit’s offer. At least three women fainted, whilst the men took bets as to how long the door could withstand a magical attack based upon those dodgy hinges.
But there was nothing to fear (except perhaps a growth in large waist trousers) as the old man heartily agreed to the deal, for there was no one that could resist the lure of a good dessert. A truce was declared between the two parties and soon the bun and staff were united in their shared love of pastries.

And so the moral of this story must be that the pudding is mightier than the sword, and that a good recipe will surely win all battles. So I advise you all to go out now and enjoy a dessert, for you never know when a wizard may be round the next corner…