Friday, October 25, 2013

Ships biscuits

I've been following the fabulous adventures of Buff Staysail over at Captain JP's for a while now. However, there are other adventures over there, and they deal with a special type of biscuits: Ships Biscuits. Ships Biscuits are known for their extreme durability, and for their ability to break teeth. Not for their good taste. Any sailor should know about these historical biscuits, so I googled them - just for fun - and look what came up:
A very old Sea biscuit
This here is one very old Ships Biscuit. The danish word is beskøjt;  English names seem to include Ships Biscuit, Sea Biscuit, Hardtack, Liverpool pancakes and Liverpool Pantiles. Obviously they are close to impossible to eat, but back then - when warships had sails - they were probably served with and dipped in some kind of grog. That might have helped a bit.

This particular Sea Biscuit can be seen at the naval museeum at Kronborg, Denmark. It is from 1852, and the museeum received the biscuit some 125 years after it was baked. The story goes that a Danish ship's boy, E. Gade, who served on board the schoonerbrig "Lydia" of Whitby, Capt. J. Wood, brought it home in order to show his mother what he got to eat on board. It's a meal in itself as it is 10 x 2 cm big.

Now, there's loads of recipies out there, so here I'll repeat the Danish version:

Danish Sea Biscuits, crew version.
1kg of - is it called - grahams flour?
4dl of water
25g of yeast
very little salt like one teaspoon or less

Mix it all up till it is no longer sticky. Create round or square biscuit sized biscuits and stick a few holes in them. Bake twice at 180 C for 35 minutes. The officers version uses wheat flour instead.

If you're into these things ( and who isn't ;-) then check out Captain JP's Sea Biscuit experiments. I think I'll do a similar experiment. I'll probably make three versions. The mediterranean Sea Biscuit with thyme, the original one with no additives and a Christmas edition with cinnamon and cardamon.


  1. G'day Noodle, what's all this about sailing on the computer, have enough trouble blogging to be honest. Jeez, it was simpler when I was a kid.

    Great bog post on the ship's biscuit. I've been wanting to do my own trials with JP's and see if they are best dunked in rum, beer or wine but JP's been saying he hasn't enough biscuits left for that so I've had to make do with a chocolate digestive which is a bit odd in wine to be honest. Maybe I need to try another biscuit type.

    JP was also muttering something about including yeast & how that differed from his recipe - just thought I'd let you know. Maybe we can convince him to bake some more.

    1. Lol. I like to think that - at least in some cases - computers make things simpler. Sailing may not be one of them. However, computers enable sailing when the RL does not. Woohoo :-D Chocolate and wine sounds like a bad combo unless it is Port or some thing. I think you'd better get JP to make a new batch of Hardtacks.


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