Hardtack.

I have a friend who doesn't like desserts. That's right. He doesn't like dessert, or bread for that matter, but he can pound energy drinks. The kid is a serious mystery. Anyway, today is his birthday and since he doesn't like dessert, he put in a request for hardtack. Yep, hardtack.

In case you don't know what hardtack is, it goes way back, probably best known as a popular military ration given to soldiers during the Civil War. Popular with the military administration, sure. The soldiers, on the other hand, hated it.

Digging around online I found that most hardtack recipes were pretty similar so I just went for it. Lo and behold, one of the easiest recipes of all time. I can't promise it tastes any good, but for the sake of the 150th anniversary of the first shots of the Civil War + a birthday, let's bake some hardtack.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups flour (whole wheat for authenticity)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2-3 cups of water

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour and salt with just enough water to form a firm dough that doesn't stick to your hands or the bowl.
  3. Sprinkle a little flour on the counter and on top of the dough. Roll out into a large rectangular shape about 1/2" thick.
  4. Cut the dough into 3" by 3" squares, trimming each side straight.
  5. Using a nail or skewer, press lightly into the dough creating a pattern of 4 rows down and 4 across each square.
  6. Turn it over and repeat (forgot this, whoops).
  7. Place the squares on an ungreased cookie sheet (tip: line with parchment paper) and bake for 30 min.
  8. Flip each square over and allow the hardtack to bake on this side for another 30 minutes.

Once finished baking, remove the trays from the oven and let it cool.  My yield was roughly 2 dozen "crackers."

DON'T BITE INTO IT! Hardtack is meant to be dipped in coffee, broth, brine or beer before consuming. Never grows mold, never goes bad. Um, enjoy.