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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hard Tack

Hard tack, pilot bread, ship's biscuit, sea biscuit, sea bread, dog biscuit, tooth dullers, sheet iron, worm castles, molar breakers, shingles, bread boards. These tough as nails and hard as rocks, inexpensive, long lasting, (questionably) edible, food stuffs were the most commonly issued ration during the Civil War. As a testament to the enduring power of hardtack there are many specimens  still on display in museums across the country. Still (questionably) good 150 years later. 


Hardtack

  • 2 cups Flour
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs Shortening
This makes about 6 crackers so I usually double the recipe.

Mix all the ingredients together until it forms a dough. 
Roll out dough to 1/2 " thick and cut out 3" x 3" squares then puncture 4-6 holes across and 4-6 holes down. These punctures are necessary for proper baking and moisture removal. 
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 min on a non greased pan, flip crackers over and bake for another 30 min. (that's 30 minutes each side at 400 degrees ).
 The next day you need to bake them again to completely dry them out (30 - 45 min at 225 degrees) . Done. 
Store in cloth, wax paper, parchment paper, haversack, tupperware, etc. I have mine in a cookie jar. I read somewhere not to store them in a plastic zip lock bag for any length of time because this can promote mold . Salt is optional. It makes them taste better, but a lot of the older recipes did not use salt.

Hard tack is not  bad, a little bland but it will keep ya going.  When I have it in the house I find that I do have cravings for it.  The dough is also good eating.
Enjoy.