How to Make Hardtack

(Cross-posted on Friday the Thirteeners; be sure to check them out!)

In an effort to prove my boldness and daring to the members of Friday the Thirteeners, I’ve decided to cook a favorite recipe from my forthcoming middle grade novel, MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT. You might remember that a few months ago, my fellow debut author Elle Cosimano performed this dare by sharing her recipe for a delicious-looking chicken stew. That’s nice and all, Elle, but let’s be frank: Anyone can cook chicken stew. It takes a truly talented chef, however, to prepare the recipe I’m sharing with you today: hardtack, the tooth-breakingly tough flour-and-water biscuit that my pirate characters spend most of their time eating in my novel. Mmm!

For this post, I’m using the hardtack recipe developed by the thoughtful scallywags at WikiHow. And to help you follow along, I’ll be showing you step-by-step photos in the style of my favorite food blogger, the Pioneer Woman. You might even call me the Buccaneer Woman.

On second thought, please don’t ever call me that.

Anyway, the first thing you’ll want to do is preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Then collect your ingredients: flour, water, and salt. (Sea salt is best–this is a pirate recipe, after all.) If you are lucky enough to have a pirate acquaintance, you should probably ask him to help.

In a large bowl, combine a cup and a half of flour, a cup of water, and a teaspoon of salt.

Then use a wooden spoon to stir it all together.

You want the dough to be thick enough that it’s hard to stir, so you’ll probably need to add more flour. When the dough is ready, it should be able to hold up a sword without much trouble.

Clean off your sword and turn out the dough onto a floured surface. By this point, you will most likely be covered in flour, but don’t dismay–a little flour is hardly enough to make a true pirate tremble in his boots. Roll out the ball of dough until it’s not quite as thick as it was before. (The recipe says it should be half an inch thick, but do you know a pirate who keeps a ruler in his kitchen? I don’t. Just roll it out until you get bored and feel like stopping.)

Next, use your sword to cut the dough into four equal pieces. I trimmed the edges of the dough here, too, since pirates like to keep things tidy.

Now you’ll need to poke holes in the hardtack to make it look more authentic and piratical. I used a chopstick to make four rows of four holes in each biscuit.

But if you don’t have a chopstick, you can always use your peg leg.

Okay, now your hardtack is ready to bake! Climb out of the dough and wipe off your leg. Then put the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and pop ’em in the oven for about 30 minutes. (It’s ok if they look a little weird.)

While you’re waiting for the hardtack to cook, you’ll probably want to clean up the huge, floury mess you’ve made all over the kitchen. You can leave out a bowl of salt water to keep your pirate friend occupied while he waits for you to finish.

When the hardtack is golden brown, take it out of the oven and remove your pirate from his mixing bowl. Wait at least 30 more minutes for the biscuits to cool. According to the recipe, you’re supposed to let your hardtack rest for a month so it’ll get good and hard, but I’m pretty sure most pirates aren’t that patient. Besides, I have a dentist’s appointment tomorrow, and I don’t want to break my teeth.

When the biscuits are cool, take a bite!