For a school project, Chef Mikey had to make Hardtack Biscuits. But, before we create the Hardtack Biscuit Recipe, we thought it would be fun to share some history about how these biscuits were created.
What are Hardtack Biscuits?
Though they’re called different things in different cultures, this basic hardtack biscuit recipe has been a staple for militaries around the world for hundreds of years. Made of flour and water and a bit of salt (optional), they are sturdy, filling and will last a long time if kept dry. Some soldiers even kept a few as souvenirs after the war and are commonly on display in Civil War museums today.
The holes in crackers were made by a process called “docking.” These help the cracker to bake evenly and prevent them from rising like a bread. Historically, this was accomplished using unpleasant looking hand-held tools but, by the Civil War, there were mechanical tools that accomplished the task much more easily.
We used a fork but later learned that the holes should have been made larger. With a plastic chopstick or pen cap for example.
This hardtack biscuit recipe shows the limited food variety that was afforded to soldiers in the Civil War. When properly baked, they became so tough that soldiers would often soak them in coffee or soup before eating them. Another option at the time was to fry salt pork, soak the biscuit in cold water, and then fry the softened hardtack in the pork grease.
Note: whatever your reasons for making this biscuit recipe, please watch your teeth.
Hardtack Biscuit Recipe:
- 2 – cups of flour
- 1/2 to 3/4 – cups of water
- 1 – teaspoon of salt
- Mix the flour, water and salt together, and make sure the mixture is fairly dry.
- Then roll it out to about 1/2 inch thickness, and shape it into a rectangle. Cut it into 3×3 inch squares, and poke holes all the way through each square.
- Place on an ungreased cookie or baking sheet, and cook for 30 minutes per side at 375? (or 350 if you have a convection oven).
- When it’s done, you’ll want to let it dry and harden for a few days, just out in the open. When it has the consistency of a brick, it’s completely done. Then simply store it in an airtight container, bucket or ziplock baggie.
Completely optional but surprisingly delicious: To prepare for eating, soak it in water or milk for about 15 minutes, and then fry in a buttered skillet. You can eat it with cheese, soup or just plain with a pinch of salt.
My son (Chef Mikey) and I had lots of fun working on this project but this biscuit recipe makes me glad that I wasn’t around in the day when soldiers needed them.
Let’s just hope the day never comes when we need to survive on food like this again.