Go
New
Find
Notify
Tools
Reply
  
Hardtack Historic Recipe
 Login/Join
 
Factor
posted
Folks often complain about hardtack, or for many folks who do the 18th century ship's biscuit, being too hard to eat. Folks make the stuff, sometimes even following an old recipe, but there is a good reason the stuff is too hard to chew.

The problem is, most folks use modern, whole wheat flour.

Modern, whole wheat flour is made from hard red wheat... but hard red wheat wasn't grown until the second half of the 19th century in any large amounts. It's very high in gluten, so you end up with a hockey puck instead of a proper cracker.

What we today call soft white wheat is the type of wheat that was used, so that's what is needed, and you can find it in whole wheat pastry flour. Big Grin There is much less gluten, and more albumen, so it makes a softer product.

Now the other error is that folks use good quality flour, when folks making the original ship's biscuit, and later the hardtack, used a grade of flour called ship's stuff. This was the lowest grade of flour sold, and had lots of stuff we'd probably call "chaff". It wouldn't be sold today to the general public.

So what to do, as you can't really find ship's-stuff these days.... but you can give it a good simultion without poisoning yourself. Simply add some whole wheat bran to your hardtack dough to increase the amount of fiber, making it closer to the original ingredient.

Loyalist Dave's Ship's Biscuit
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup whole wheat bran
1 level tablespoon, sea salt
water
cornmeal for the baking sheet

Mix the first three ingredients dry, then add water to make a stiff but rollable dough. Roll it flat about 1/4" thick, into a large square.

For ship's biscuit, after rolling, cut into 2" or 3" discs with a biscuit cutter. Take the remaining bits of dough, combine them, roll them again, and cut again into discs. Repeat until you cannot form any more biscuits.

Pierce the large square or the biscuits with a fork many times to make holes to aid in the baking. (If your living history persona is British...use the tip of a table knife to make three lines in the center of each biscuit like this /|\ for the King's Arrow.)

On a dry cookie sheet, sprinkle a layer of dry cornmeal, then lay out the biscuits, or lay the full rolled hardtack loaf, on the cookie sheet, and bake at 250º for about two hours. Allow to cool, and place in a dry container... if you made hardtack, you break up the large single loaf into square chunks... some people score the large hardtack square with a knife blade so they can break it up in uniform squares.

If it's still too hard for you, add more bran. I've made a test batch with this recipe, and you don't necessarily need the salt, but I've some of these kept in a container now for more than two years.

You will find some places recipes for hardtack or ship's biscuit that include lard, or shortenting, and also sometimes honey, and even sometimes coriander... ship's biscuit or hardtack was the cheapest possible way to preserve a basic ration for the military. They would not use ingredients that would speed spoilage, and increase price!

LD

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Loyalist Dave,


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
 
Posts: 3843 | Location: People's Republic of Maryland | Registered: 10 November 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
<mtnmike>
posted
HARDTACK

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups flour
6 tsp. Salt
3/4 cup water

Dry mix the ingredients.
Add the water and knead the dough. Dough should not be sticky.
Roll out to an even thickness. I use a shallow sided cookie pan. The shallow sides control the thickness
Cut to shape. Poke three rows of holds with a fork.
Place in the oven for about 1/2 hour or until just golden.

Makes 10-12 biscuits.

============================================

To cook them really thoroughly, set them aside for a day, then cook them at 225 degrees for 30-45 more minutes. The second baking will remove any “sweat” and really dry the biscuit. This is important.
 
Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
posted Hide Post
I may try this....


Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
 
Posts: 1927 | Location: Oreegun Territory | Registered: 24 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of Idaho Mountainneer
posted Hide Post
I've seen some recipes with honey in it.
 
Posts: 330 | Location: Twin Falls ID | Registered: 29 January 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of Deercop
posted Hide Post
Hey LD..

Gonna try your recipe. I'm curious..are you familiar with the Sailor Boy brand Pilot Biscuits? I was wondering how close these were to Ship's Biscuits.
I picked up a couple boxes of these while up in Alaska. From what I was told, they are a staple for many folks living far from market.
To me they seem like a harder, larger, unsalted Saltine cracker.
 
Posts: 649 | Location: Clovis, New Mexico | Registered: 21 March 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
posted Hide Post
quote:
I've seen some recipes with honey in it.


Yeah, that's what American's call a "cookie". Big Grin They will grow mold. SB's are a survival ration, not a treat. (lol)

quote:
are you familiar with the Sailor Boy brand Pilot Biscuits? I was wondering how close these were to Ship's Biscuits.


Well pilot bread is about 1/2 way between ship's biscuit and a saltine cracker. Sailor Boy Pilot Bread has: ... " vegetable shortening (soybean oil, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil with tbhq and citric acid added as preservative), contains less than 2% of: leavening ( sodium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate)...
...So with the shortening they need a preservative, and the leavening is small, but makes for a "lighter" cracker than actual ship's biscuit.

Purity Hard Bread is the only over-the-counter actual ship's biscuit or hardtack that I know about....water, salt, flour. Big Grin

As a highlander, I'm pretty frugal, so bake the stuff myself. I found out about the "wrong wheat" situation when doing research for basic, yeast bread... then had an "ah haaa!" moment, and the recipe in the beginning of the thread is the result.

LD


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
 
Posts: 3843 | Location: People's Republic of Maryland | Registered: 10 November 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of Idaho Mountainneer
posted Hide Post
This is true. I've left some in a can before and found it a few months later all moldy.
 
Posts: 330 | Location: Twin Falls ID | Registered: 29 January 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of Pilgrim
posted Hide Post
What is the best way to pack hardtack or ship's biscuits for a trek to minimize breakage?


"Any day you wake up on the right side of the dirt is a good day"
 
Posts: 427 | Location: Northwestern California | Registered: 05 May 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
posted Hide Post
How 'bout wrapping them in a swatch of oilcloth,then packing in a tin of appropriate size.


Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
 
Posts: 1927 | Location: Oreegun Territory | Registered: 24 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
posted Hide Post
I put mine in pouch sealed with beeswax that is period and keeps them from breakage. Stiff waterproof pouch.

BC


"Better fare hard with good men than feast it with bad."
Thomas Paine
 
Posts: 649 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 27 June 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
posted Hide Post
Breakage?

Never had them actually break without some effort...even the ones with the proper flour. You have to chomp on 'em pretty well to eat them, while the ones with modern flour you have to break them up with the back of a 'hawk head or a musket butt, then soak them to use them.

I just chunk 'em into a linen sack with the rest of the rations.

LD


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
 
Posts: 3843 | Location: People's Republic of Maryland | Registered: 10 November 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
posted Hide Post
Lololol,good point....


Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
 
Posts: 1927 | Location: Oreegun Territory | Registered: 24 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
posted Hide Post
They make good, biodegradable targets for fowlers/fusils/trade guns using shot. Either set on a stand or tossed into the air, or for rifles when propped on a stand.

No....seriously...... you could add food color if you wanted them to contrast down range....

LD


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
 
Posts: 3843 | Location: People's Republic of Maryland | Registered: 10 November 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of Idaho Mountainneer
posted Hide Post
And probably a heck of a lot cheaper than a box of clay pigeons.
Makes me think of the movie Secondhand Lions.
Good idea Dave
 
Posts: 330 | Location: Twin Falls ID | Registered: 29 January 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of NWTF Longhunter
posted Hide Post
I'll be your huckleberry

 
Posts: 797 | Location: Michigan | Registered: 29 April 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Greenhorn
posted Hide Post
You're a daisy, if you do. Wink


It's not the first time, I've protected my hair, in just such a manner.
 
Posts: 44 | Location: Independence, MO. | Registered: 28 September 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
  Powered by Social Strata  
 


2014 Historical Enterprises, LLC