Top 15 Posts of 2013—Number 5: Making Hardtack
The parks are all closed and you are at your wit’s end trying to figure out what to do. You have watched Gettysburg about as many times as anyone could possible stomach and . . . stomach? Have I got a solution for you!
After all, the holidays are coming up, and everyone needs a great Civil War-themed gift, so be prepared to kill two passenger pigeons with one rock–er–biscuit.
Below is a hardtack recipe from the Atlanta History Center:
Ingredients: ?2 cups of flour ?½ to ¾ cup water? Salt (5-6 pinches)
What to Do:
1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Make sure you add enough flour so that the dough is no longer sticky, but be careful not to make it too dry. Knead the dough a few times. During the war, hardtack was about half an inch thick, so when you’re rolling the dough, aim for this thickness. It is easiest to roll the dough directly on an ungreased cookie sheet.
2. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
3. Cut the large square into smaller 3-inch by 3-inch squares. Poke 16 evenly spaced holes in each square using something wider than a toothpick.
4. Flip, and then return the dough to the oven for another 30 minutes.
5. Turn the oven off, and allow the hardtack to cool in the oven with the door closed.
6. Allow to completely cool before eating.
This should keep you busy for an afternoon, but once you get this recipe down–while listening to this great audio clip– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBh2AmdnhLk–you might consider some variations on the theme.
I have a friend who is a reenactor at my old stomping grounds–Fort Tejon, in California. Karina is a baker extraordinaire.
She cooks camp dinners in Dutch ovens and over open fires that folks travel miles to partake of. She always prepares a batch or so of hardtack to bring to reenacments, and although she will not give up her basic recipe, most of the recipes are about the same as the above.
Did I mention the holidays? Karina bakes batches of hardtack with spices in them, and cinnamon and sugar on top for her winter festivities. She mentions them on Facebook, and I just drool every time. Imagine how good they would be with a Pumpkin Spice Latte!
So, quit bugging everyone by complaining about the government shutdown. Remember, much of the Civil war was spent just sitting around waiting for something to happen, so get used to it. Bake up a batch of hardtack, and respond to this little blog post with the results.
I will be sitting here, waiting for you, because, you know–the government has shut down the Presidio and I can’t go up to San Francisco to see McDowell’s grave . . .
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