Return to Home 
Research Center Directory 
 Back to Home Cooking 




Miner's Bread & Biscuits


From: Two years in the Klondike and Alaskan gold fields by William B. Haskell, 1898.

Freshly baked bread was a delicacy for men who had lived on hard tack for the best part of a year....

"I became quite an expert in making bread, which in Alaska always means baking-powder bread or biscuit.  Some miners brought in a little yeast and tried to raise bread in that way, but it was soon discarded for baking-powder.  My method was simple.  I would take a quart of flour, throw in a couple of tablespoonfuls of baking-powder and about a half a teaspoonful of salt, and mix till quite still with water, which had to be previously obtained by melting snow or a fragment of a glacier.  Then I would grease the tin with the best grease that was obtainable, and which usually was very poor; but little things like that are not worth a passing thought in an Alaskan camp.  Having a red-hot fire in the Yukon stove, I would push the tin into the oven, and in half an hour take out a loaf of bread which, in the ravenous condition of our appetites, would make our eyes water.  The only difficulty was that a loaf would disappear at every meal, so that as long as our supply of flour continued abundant I was compelled to bake two or three times a day.

"My biscuit were concocted by nearly the same formula as my bread.  Having put a quart of flour, two tablespoonfuls of baking-powder, and a half teaspoonful of salt together, I would mix it while dry with lard, if I had any, but more commonly with bacon fat.  This I stir in with water, and rolled out the stiff dough on the smooth side of a slab.  The rolling pin I had manufactured from a section of a spruce pole.  Then I would cut the dough into circles with the top of a baking-powder tin, and bake about 15 minutes. ...They had to be accompanied with some such staple article of died as flapjacks, or bacon, and beans or oat meal.  No game came within sight during that long winter, and we were too busy to look for it till out provisions began to run out and it was difficult to obtain any more."