Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pound For Pound

Despite the snowy weekend, the Renaissance Man and I have been enjoying maritime-themed movies ("Horatio Hornblower" and "Pirates of the Caribbean") and thought we'd extend the metaphor.

On an impulse, he called a sailing friend and invited us to the friend's home on Saturday evening, offering to bring movies and bread. Sailor Mike happily agreed, his wife suggested we come for dinner, and the plan was set.

What the Renaissance Man did not tell Sailor Mike, however, was that we had a special bread we hoped to bring: ship's biscuits, or hardtack.

A few weeks ago, lacking milk in the house but craving biscuits nonetheless, the RM flipped through the pages of his biscuit recipe book and spotted a recipe for ship's biscuits that required only flour, salt, a dab of butter, and flour. We tried them, and they were fairly bland, but the story to go with them would make them all the better.

For you see, the trick to making really good ship's biscuits is to pound the living daylights out of the dough. Repeatedly. And how better to do that than to use an enormous timber framing mallet? (As the RM noted, "It's just like a rolling pin with a handle." Right?)

So I mixed up the dough, laid it out on the board, and let him pound away at it:

After that much pounding, the dough turns out a little rubbery and extremely dense. But I cut it into squares, arranged the biscuits on a baking sheet, and baked them for half an hour.

These were really too fresh and puffy to be quite authentic, and they didn't contain any weevils, as happened so often on board even the finest of British Navy vessels. But they were fine as they were, for Sailor Mike got a big chuckle out of the gift, though he promised to store some away to get properly hard and tasteless before the next sailing adventure.

I bet they'd be better with a bottle of rum, though.

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At 1/13/2009 2:15 PM, Blogger Tara said...

I have this weird fascinating with pirates and schooners and the first thing I thought of when I started reading this post was weevils. So when you mentioned them later, I had a nice chuckle. What a fun experiment! Maybe we should do this with the homeschool group...

At 1/13/2009 5:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What? You mean you don't have a jar or weevils incubating on your countertop next to the sprouts?? Laggard!

At 1/14/2009 7:06 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Arrrrr, matey... er, I mean, Tara. :-) Glad you found the fun in it as much as we did. (My interest in sailing ships comes from polar exploration -- also fitting, given the weekend weather!) Let me know if you want the recipe, as it's wicked easy.

Emily! I know it's shocking, but...! (Remember, I'm vegetarian!) ;-) Sailor Mike was hoping for the weevils, too, I think...


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