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Monday, November 17, 2014

Pilot Bread? More Like Dog Biscuits!

 "After the Storm" Rhi's avatar
A while back on our Facebook page, we had a discussion concerning foods suitable for storage in the trunk of your vehicle or a Get-Home Bag to tide you through until you can get home or to your Bug-Out Bag and better supplies.

Several types of foods were mentioned, including a brief discussion of hardtack, way bread, and journey breads, as well as various types of crackers. Bread of all sorts, and what we think of as crackers, have been used for millennia as a quick, long-storing, easily transportable source of energy.

During the discussion, one of the commenters mentioned this commercially available stuff called Alaskan Pilot Bread.

Now, the guy who mentioned this was also kind enough to post a link to the recipe (found here) and I, baking fiend that I am, agreed to give it a try and see how they turned out.

Now personally, I'd never heard of Alaskan Pilot Bread.  My DHT (Dear Hubby Type),  having been in the Navy during his misspent youth, had not only heard of them but had also actually eaten them.  He was fairly excited at the prospect of me trying out a recipe that touted itself as being a version of Alaskan Pilot Bread and was looking forward to trying out the results.

We were both in for a rather unpleasant surprise when the results finally came out of the oven: They were salty. They were bitter. They left an unpleasant aftertaste in the back of the mouth. They never got crispy and had a color that was reminiscent of paste, which hasn't been appetizing since Kindergarten.

Quite frankly, they were worse than some of my earliest attempts to bake bread during my childhood. The only member of the household that found them palatable was the dog, and she's not known for being terribly picky when it comes to things she's willing to consume.

Now after attempting the recipe and having it turn out so poorly, I decided to do a bit of tinkering with it to see if I could come up with something that wasn't quite so hideously unpalatable.   Fortunately, the results of experimentation were much more satisfying.

I tried a couple of different variants on the recipe before settling on a final form, which follows below. They're more of a cracker than the pilot bread was, but that can be fixed by simply not rolling it out quite so thin as I did.

I don't normally bake with things that are so far removed from "natural" as to be unrecognizable from their original form. However, Crisco has an unusually long shelf life (several years) that keeps it from going bad, so I keep some in my pantry for emergency use when I can't get more natural alternatives. Since we're discussing SHTF scenarios, the pantry to keep for them, and things that don't spoil easily, Crisco does have its uses.


Rhi's Way Bread Crackers
(Sorry for the lack of comparison photos - I was too busy enjoying baking to remember to grab the camera!)

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
8 tablespoons Butter Flavor Crisco
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 teaspoon salt
    1. Mix salt, baking powder, and flour in large bowl.  
    2. Using a pastry cutter or pair of forks, mix in shortening until it resembles a bowl full of crumbs.  
    3. Add 1/2 cup of warm to almost hot water and mix together well.  Do not worry about over mixing, as you are not looking for "flaky" in the end result - so it doesn't matter if your shortening begins to melt into the dough rather than staying as crumbs.
    4. Dough will be somewhat sticky.  Sprinkle surface of rolling area, and rolling pin, generously with flour.  
    5. Roll out dough until it is approximately 1/16 inch thick uniformly, sprinkling top with extra flour as needed to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin.  
    6. Cut into rounds using small cookie cutter, water glass, or mason jar which you have lightly floured the rim of.
    7. Transfer rounds onto baking sheet which has either been floured or lined with Baking Parchment Paper.  
    8. Prick face of rounds several times with a fork.  
    9. Bake in oven at 400 for 30 minutes, or until beginning to brown.  
    10. If saltine style is desired, lightly brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse grain salt while still warm.

    Recipe should yield about 36 to 42 crackers, depending on size of cutter used.

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