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Recipe: Hardtack (hard biscuits)

I'm really into pioneer food right now. Never realized that hardtack is basically a rock-hard biscuit, or a thick cracker. If stored correctly, it could last for years. It could be made very cheaply (well, duh, flour and water!) and because it would last so long, it was a very convenient food for people who travel so it made it through wars, pioneer treks across the continent, explorations, and more... whenever someone needed to move fast and pack light.

Hardtack was eaten by itself, or crumbled into coffee. Nowadays, you could dunk it in reconstituted powdered milk, or crumbled into soup. You could also crumble them into cold water, then fry the crumbs in the juice and fat of meat (a dish known as "skillygalee" or "cush").

2 cups freshly ground flour
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine ingredients and knead until smooth. Sprinkle some additional flour on a smooth surface. Roll dough flat until 1/4 inch thick. Cut biscuits out with a can or score and slice into squares or rectangles. Keep within 3-4 inches in diameter/across. Poke holes into each using a fork (see the picture above). Place on a floured cookie sheet. Bake 35-45 minutes until biscuits are hard and dry.

Copyright (c) 2009 VP Lawrence-Williams

1 comment:

Bustednuckles said...

Many years ago when I was in the Boy Scouts, going on two week hikes, we were introduced to Freeze Dried foods because of the light weiht.
In these packages was peanut butter and what I now realize, Hard Tack.

Let me tell ya, I would still eat that.

After having the runs for two days in a row out in the boonies from yer digestive system trying to get used to freeze dried foods, after hiking all day, something that plugged ya up for one day was a blessing.
The fact that it is very simple to make and has a long storage life , it is no doubt that this is something to remember how to make.

Good article.