Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rice Pilaf, French Army, 1940


     Rice Pilaf was listed as a suggested accompaniment to Boeuf a l’Algérienne (Algerian-style Beef) in French military cooking manuals. I will post the recipe for Boeuf a l’Algérienne within the next few days. 

Rice Pilaf, French Army, 1940
(Riz au Gras, dit Pilaff)

     This rice pilaf recipe recommended the use of unpolished rice (i.e., brown rice) from Indochina (the nations of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia), if it was available. Please note that the amount of stock, broth or water given in the recipe is a recommended amount. Refer to the cooking instructions for the particular brand of rice that you are using and adjust as needed. If not using brown rice, use long grain white rice and reduce the cooking time to 20 minutes. 

Yield: 4 servings        

U.S.                             Metric                         Ingredients
1.5 fl oz/3 tbsp             40 g                             lard, margarine, shortening or oil
4.25 oz                        120 g                           rice, dry and clean
0.35 oz/1 fl oz*            10 g                             onion
1 clove                         1 clove                         garlic
½ tsp                           4 g                               coarse salt
to taste                        to taste                         black pepper, finely ground
8 fl oz                          240 ml                         stock, bone broth or water
* volume is for finely chopped onion.

Procedure
1.      Chop fine the onion and garlic (approx. 1/4" pieces).
2.      Boil the stock or water.
3.      Put the lard in a separate pot. Add the rice, heat, and with a wooden spatula, stir until the rice is a glossy ivory color and begins to crackle slightly.
4.      Add the garlic, onion, salt and pepper, stir.
5.      Carefully pour the boiling stock or water into the pot with the rice so that it separates the rice. Stir one last time.
6.      Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low.
7.      Let the rice cook for 30 to 35 minutes without stirring it or opening the pot.
8.      After this time, remove the pot from the heat. The liquid should be completely absorbed and the rice cooked to perfection.
9.      Serve with a slotted spoon and spread the rice on the plates with a fork.

Variations

Curry Rice (Riz au curry)
As for the basic rice pilaf recipe, but add at the same time as the garlic, onion, salt and pepper:
1 tsp                            4 g                               curry powder

Rice Milanese (Le Riz a la Milanaise)
As for the basic rice pilaf recipe, but add to the boiling liquid and mix well:
2.5 tbsp                        40 ml                             tomato paste
Before serving, sprinkle with:
0.7 oz (1/4 cup)             20 g                             gruyere cheese, grated

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Field Bread, US Army, 1896-1910


 
 Field Bread, 1896

      The field bread of 1896 was a remnant of an earlier era, when field breads were prepared and consumed in the field under rudimentary conditions, either by the individual soldier or by the company mess. These early field breads could be prepared over an open fire, in earthen field ovens, or buried in hot embers from a wood fire. 

     By following the original recipe literally, which did not stipulate a time for the dough to rise and a long cooking time of 5 to 6 hours in a low oven heat to prevent burning, the result was a dense, heavy, and nearly inedible product. It can be safely assumed that the method of cooking would have been to bake the bread for about 45 to 60 minutes, after which the heat would have decreased enough so that the bread was merely being kept warm for the majority of the time.
     Therefore, a rising time for the dough is necessary. When using an oven a shorter baking time at 350°F replicates the heat generated by burying the mess kit in embers and ash. If we use an outdoor wood fire, the bread will also have finished baking within 60 minutes, or when it passes a skewer test.
     The Manual for Army Cooks recommended cutting a section of the mess pan rim to vent the expanding gases while cooking, while allowing the mess pan to be closed tightly and keep ashes out of the bread. This is currently impractical, at least for those of us who are reluctant to disfigure a collector’s item. I have found that this is unnecessary, as the mess pan has enough of a gap to ensure venting during baking. If you’re not sure, clamp your empty mess kit together and submerge in water. If air bubbles are leaking out, then it’s not airtight and should be fine for baking field bread. If you are still unsure, place a wad of aluminum foil between the rim of the lid and the base to leave a slight gap when the lid is clamped shut.


Yield: Two loaves, approximately 16 ounces each when baked.

Field Bread, US Army, 1896

U.S.                             Metric                         Ingredients
4 cups                          950 ml                         all purpose or bread flour
1 tsp                            6 ml                             yeast
½ tsp                           3 ml                             salt
1 tsp                            6 ml                             dripping or lard
14 fl oz                        415 ml                         warm water

Procedure
1.      Mix the flour, yeast and salt together.
2.      Mix in dripping or lard.
3.      Add water in small quantities at a time, until a soft dough is made.
4.      Knead lightly until the dough is smooth.
5.      Cover and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours or until doubled in volume.





Baking in a Mess Kit or Covered Pan in an Oven
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Grease the inside, top and bottom, of two mess kits. Divide the dough in half. Flatten each half and place into the lower half of a mess kit. Place the cover on the mess kit and latch the handle.
Bake for 30-45 minutes at 350°F or until bread passes a skewer test.
NOTE: In place of a mess pan, use an oven-proof metal pan with a lid (either two pans with an area of approximately 50 square inches each, or one pan of 100 square inches).

Baking in a Mess Pan on an Open Fire
Grease the inside of two mess pans. Divide the dough in half. Flatten each half and place into the lower half of a mess pan. Place the cover on the mess pan and latch the handle.
Into this mess pan put dough enough to fill it two-thirds full; cover with another mess pan.
 A hole should previously have been dug in the ground eighteen or twenty inches in diameter and depth, and a fire burned in it five or six hours. Then take out all the cinders except a bed two or three inches deep ; upon this place the mess pans and surround and cover them with hot cinders ; over all spread a covering of earth, and leave for five or six hours. The bread will not burn, as in rising it will not reach the bottom of the upper mess pan.
 The rough-cut edges of the lower mess pan afford egress to any gases that may be disengaged.
If mess pans are to be used, the dough is then placed in the deeper pans and covered with the shallow ones. An even bed of coals is then raked into the baking trench, the ovens or pans placed on this bed and live coals placed on top. Care should be taken not to use too many coals, as owing to the thinness of the pans, the contents are easily burned.

Baked in Frying Pan on an Open Fire
Roll the dough to a thickness of half an inch, and to a diameter that will fit in the frying pan.
Grease the frying pan and set it over hot embers until the grease begins to melt.
Put the dough, in the pan and set it over the fire.
Shake the pan every few moments to prevent the dough from adhering.
After a crust has formed on the bottom, take the bread out of the pan and set it up on edge, close to the fire, turning it occasionally to insure its being baked through.
 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Beef Hash, US Army, 1910


Beef Hash, US Army, 1910-1941

     The word hash is derived from the French hachis, a dish of chopped ingredients. Hachis is in turn derived from the Old French verb hacher, to chop up. Recipes for hash appeared in the US Army’s first cookbook in 1879. The “Dry Hash” recipe evolved into the “Beef Hash” recipe which saw service in World War 1. Hash was a common dish in the US military for many years. It was simple, took little preparation time, and utilized meat scraps.
     Scraps of beef or pork, or a mixture of both, or corned beef (fresh or canned) may be used. A small amount of garlic was added to the recipe in 1935, but other than that this version of beef hash remained in use until 1942.

Yield: 4 servings.

US                               Metric                         Ingredients                             
16 oz                           450 g                           potatoes
2 oz                             60 g                             onions
16 oz                           450 g                           meat scraps, fresh
13 fl oz                        380 ml                         beef stock
to taste                         to taste                         salt
to taste                         to taste                         pepper

Procedure
1.      Chop the ingredients fine.
2.      Add enough beef stock so that the mixture is of the consistency of ordinary mush (“ordinary mush” has the consistency of thick oatmeal, grits or polenta; the mixture should not be runny).
3.      Place in a well-greased pan.*
4.      Smooth the top and grease lightly.
5.      Bake in a 400°F oven for 1 to 1½ hours. Most of the liquid will have evaporated and the top will be lightly browned.

Variations

Beef Hash, 1935 version
Add ¼ small clove of garlic, minced.

Corned Beef Hash
For convenience, I scaled the following version of hash to use one 12-ounce can of corned beef. Please note that since canned corned beef is already salted, take care to not add too much salt.


Corned Beef Hash, US Army, WW1  

Yield: 3 servings.

US                               Metric                         Ingredients                             
12 oz                           340 g                           potatoes
1½ oz                          45 g                             onions
12 oz                           340 g                           canned corned beef
10 fl oz                        285 ml                         beef stock
to taste                         to taste                         salt
to taste                         to taste                         pepper

Procedure
1.      Chop the potatoes and onions fine.
2.      Add the corned beef and beef stock.
3.      Place in a well-greased pan.
4.      Smooth the top and grease lightly.
5.      Bake in a 400°F oven for 1 to 1½ hours. Most of the liquid will have evaporated and the top will be lightly browned.


*Choose a pan size that will allow about 2-3 inches (5-75 cm) depth of uncooked hash. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Maconochie Stew, British Army, WW1

Meat & Vegetable Ration (M and V Ration), aka Maconochie Stew, British Army, 1900-1918

22 ounces of  M&V Ration (reproduction)

     From the late 1800s until World War 2, the British Army contracted several commercial canneries to produce the “Meat and Vegetable Ration”. Most famous of these was the Maconochie company, whose name became universally applied to the M and V Ration. As with many military rations throughout history, in World War 1 Maconochie was overused and often eaten cold, which led to its being awarded a perhaps undeserved reputation as a culinary perversion.
     The directions on the can stated that “Contents may be eaten hot or cold”, and that the unopened can should be heated in boiling water for 30 minutes. Under most frontline circumstances, this method of heating would prove to be a ludicrous recommendation. The average Tommy of the First World War would undoubtedly have not-so-politely begged to differ about the “eaten cold” statement. When hot, Maconochie was described in letters and reports as being anywhere from barely palatable to good. When eaten cold, the fat tended to accumulate in a lump on top of barely recognizable chunks of meat and vegetables, leading one reporter to describe Maconochie as “an inferior grade of garbage”. In all fairness to Maconochie, most any dish intended to be eaten hot but served cold with congealed fat and gravy would be distinctly unappetizing.
     The recipe is based on the ingredients and scaling from M and V Rations, and on historical descriptions of Maconochie’s stew.
     As an interesting side-note, Maconochie was widely applied as a slang term within the British Army of WW1. The Military Medal and the Military Cross became known as the Maconochie Medal and the Maconochie Cross, respectively., “Maconochie” was slang for stomach. A telephone receiver, due to the resemblance of the can to the devices in use at the time, also became a Maconochie.


A Maconochie advertisement from World War 1.
British Tommy, French Poilu, Russian Cossack, 

and Italian Bersagliere are gathered together
 in an idyllic scene of Entente solidarity over
 steaming cans of Maconochie's stew.


This recipe yields the equivalent of one 22 ounce can of Maconochie stew.
  
US                               Metric                         Ingredients
12 oz                           340 g                           beef (or one can of corned beef*)
5 oz                             140 g                           waxy potatoes**
1 oz                             30 g                             carrots
1 oz                             30 g                             onions
1 oz                             30 g                             beans, cooked (white beans such as navy
                                                                       or great northern)
2 oz                             60 ml                           beef stock or water
1 tbsp                          15 ml                           flour
1 tbsp                          15 ml                           fat (lard or rendered beef fat)
to taste                        to taste                         salt

Procedure
1.       If using fresh beef, cut into ½” to 1” pieces.  
2.       Cut potatoes and carrots into ½’ thick slices.
3.       Cut onions into ½” pieces.
4.       Steam or boil in a little water the beef, potatoes, carrots and onions until tender.
5.       Heat the fat in a pan.
6.       Add cooked potatoes, carrots, onions, beans and beef over medium heat.
7.       Make a batter of the beef stock or water with flour.
8.       Add batter to the stew.
9.       Cook until thickened.
10.   Salt to taste
11.   For a real treat, serve with hard Army biscuits.

* If using canned beef, cook the vegetables, add the batter and cook until thickened. Add the canned beef and heat thoroughly.

** Waxy (low starch) potatoes, such as red potatoes or “boiling potatoes” should be used. High
starch potatoes such as Russet or Idaho potatoes will fall apart during boiling or steaming.

Note: A more authentic version may be reproduced with a pressure cooker, if one is available. For a pressure cooker version, add fresh beef and vegetables together with a little water and cook until the beef is tender. Add the batter and proceed as with the above version.

Reproduction Can of Maconochie Army Ration
Variations:
Turnip Maconochie
Some versions of canned Maconochie contained turnips. To reproduce this delicacy, substitute 5 ounces of turnips for the potatoes and cook as for the potatoes. Be forewarned that the combination of beans and turnips was reputed to produce rather hefty amounts of intensely “aromatic” flatulence.

There were several “field expedient” Maconochie variations described by soldiers and correspondents:

Trench Maconochie All-In*:
This was normally prepared in a dugout or reserve trench.
To one recipe of Maconochie stew, add cooked potatoes, canned corned beef or fresh beef.
(diced and boiled with the potatoes) and water.
Boil beef and potatoes in water.
Add Maconochie when beef and potatoes are tender.
Cook until warmed thoroughly. Add additional salt if needed.

Curried Maconochie
One recipe of Maconochie stew
Curry powder to taste
Stir curry powder into cooked and heated Maconochie.

Maconochie and Pea Flour
One recipe of Maconochie stew
One or two tablespoons of green pea flour.
Stir pea flour into cooked and heated Maconochie.

* All-In: British Army slang for a stew made by taking whatever victuals that were at hand and dumping them into a community pot.



Monday, July 16, 2012

Vegetable Soup, Italian Army


Classic Vegetable Soup, Italian Army, 1936-45
(La classica minestra di verdure)

This recipe was adaptable to using whatever fresh vegetables were locally available. It cautioned that in order to produce a good soup, one should add sufficient water in the beginning and not add more water later during the cooking process. 

Yield: 4 servings

U.S.                             Metric                       Ingredients
50 g                             50 g                             salt pork or bacon
1 clove                         1 clove                         garlic
1medium to large           1medium to large         leek
1 tbsp                           15 ml                           butter
1 tbsp                           15 ml                           oil
3 medium                     3 medium                    potatoes

Vegetables in season, such as:
1-2 small to medium    1-2 small to medium    zucchini
1 head                          1 head                         celeriac
½ head                         ½ head                        cauliflower
½ cup                           120 ml                         English peas, shelled

2 quarts                        2 liters                          water
to taste                         to taste                         salt
to taste                         to taste                         pepper
2 cups                          500 ml                         cabbage, shredded
2 tbsp                           30 ml                           parsley, chopped
5 oz (6 fl oz)                 150 g                           rice, uncooked

Procedure
1.      Cut the salt pork into ¼” pieces.
2.      Clean the leeks well, cut in half lengthwise and then into ¼” slices
3.      Cut the potatoes and other vegetables into ½” pieces.
4.      Place bacon, garlic, leeks butter and oil into a large casserole or pot.
5.      Cook over medium-low heat until the bacon is rendered but not completely crisp.
6.      Add the potatoes and all the vegetables
7.      Stir and cook for several minutes.
8.      Add two quarts of water. Add more water if necessary to cover the ingredients, and enough to insure that more water does not need to be added later during the cooking process.
9.      Lightly season with salt and pepper.
10.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 2 hours
11.  Twenty minutes before serving, add the cabbage, parsley and rice.
12.  When the rice is cooked al dente, adjust the seasoning.
13.  Serve with grated Parmesan cheese. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

French Army Monkey Meat, 1914


Monkey Meat, French Army, 1914
(Une recette de singe “A recipe for monkey”)

     Monkey meat was French army slang for canned corned beef. As one of the commonly procured brands was “Madagascar”, French soldiers jokingly (half-jokingly?) contended that since Madagascar was not particularly noted for beef production then the contents should logically consist of monkey meat.   
     The original recipe of 1915 recommended: “Serve very hot when possible”. One might  wonder, given the conditions in the trenches, whether this was intended as a tongue-in-cheek comment. On a more serious note the writer stated that the recipe was practical enough to be employed under the most rudimentary conditions.

Yield: 4 servings

U.S.                            Metric                        Ingredients
24 oz.*                        700 g                          canned corned beef
2 medium or 1 large     2 medium or 1 large     onions  
1 oz                             30 g                             lard, margarine or vegetaline®**
8 fl oz                          220 ml                         red wine vinegar
1¾ oz (6 tbsp)             50 g                             all purpose flour
¼ cup                          60 ml                           stock or water
to taste                        to taste                         salt and pepper

 Ingredients for "Singe"

Procedure
1.       Peel and cut the onions into small pieces.
2.      Heat the lard or margarine in a pan.
3.      Sauté the onions until soft.
4.      Add the vinegar and bring to a gentle boil.
5.      Mix with a spoon or a wooden utensil.
6.      In a separate container, mix the flour with broth or water
7.      Add the flour mixture to the onions and boil slowly for at least 10 minutes.
8.      Cut or flake the beef into small walnut-sized pieces.
9.      Cover with the prepared sauce.
10.  Season with salt and pepper (season sparingly, as the meat is already salty)
11.  Place in an oven or simmer on low heat for 15 minutes, until the sauce is well thickened.

* two 12 oz cans
** Végétaline ® was called for in the original recipe. Végétaline® is a cooking fat produced in France, made from hydrogenated coconut and palm kernel oil.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Shchi and Borscht, 1900



Shchi (Cabbage Soup) and Borscht (Beet Soup), Russian Army, 1900

    The common soldier in the Tsarist Russian Army was, enemy action notwithstanding, well fed. The total caloric value of the daily ration was actually slightly higher than that of the Soviet era, although the diet would be considered bland and repetitive by current tastes.
     In the early 20th century the Russian Army was equipped with an advanced system of rolling field kitchens. Soups, kasha and bread were basic components of meals in the field.
     Using the now-obsolete Russian system of volume measurements, a “vedro” (bucket) of 12.3 liters/3.2 gallons was used to measure soup rations for ten soldiers. A vedro consisted of 10 kruzhki (mugs), with a single kruzhka (1.2 liters/2.5 pints) being used as the measurement of the individual ration.
Shchi and 100% Rye Bread

 Although it may appear to be a rather large portion of soup, it should be noted that a meal for the Russian or Soviet soldier would consist only of soup and bread. As most home cooks would not usually be inclined to prepare over a gallon of soup, a halving of the ingredients (US measuring system) is also given.
     There was much leeway in the original recipe left to the judgment of the cook: quantities used of salt, onion, pepper, and bay leaves were “to taste”; whole grains, "as needed for taste and density". Recommended amounts for these ingredients are given, but this of course can be varied without losing authenticity.

Yield: 4 servings

US                  US (half)       Metric              Ingredients
166 fl oz          83 fl oz            4.9 l                 water
28.8 fl oz         14.5 fl oz         850 ml             meat (beef in Tsarist era, beef or pork in Soviet era)
30 fl oz            15 fl oz            900 ml             whole grains: oat groats, rye berries or pearl barley
44 fl oz            22 fl oz            1300 ml           sauerkraut
 8 oz                4 oz                 115 g              flour
2 large             1 large             2 large             onion, chopped
to taste             to taste            to taste            salt
to taste             to taste            to taste            black pepper, ground
2-4 each           1-2 each          2-4 each         bay leaf

Procedure
1.      Cut the meat into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces.
2.      Cut the onions into ½ inch pieces.
3.      Put the water into a large pot.
4.      Mix the flour with a little cold water to make a thin paste, add to the pot.
5.      Add all of the other ingredients.
6.      Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 3 hours.



Borscht (Beet Soup), Russian Army, 1900
Ingredients and procedure are as for Shchi, except for half of the sauerkraut substitute beets. The total amounts of sauerkraut and beets are given below.

U.S.                 U.S. (half)       Metric             Ingredients
22 fl oz            11 fl oz            650 ml             sauerkraut
22 fl oz            11 fl oz            650 ml             beets: boiled, peeled, and chopped or grated

Sunday, July 8, 2012

British Army Soups of the Great War


Here are several similar soup recipes of the British Army as prepared in World War 1. These versions first appeared in the 1910 edition of British military cooking manuals. More British Army soup recipes will be posted at a later date.
     In the British Army, soups were normally served for the evening meal, accompanied by bread and a cheese or simple meat dish.  Soup recipes were scaled so as to provide each man with one pint (that’s an Imperial pint, 20 fluid ounces). The pint of soup combined with 3 ounces of bread was deemed “a fairly substantial meal, suitable for men working in the open”. These soups were quite simple and easily adapted to field cooking in devices such as the Soyer’s Stove.
      By the end of the First World War, food rationing and shortages had affected even the front line soldiers’ rations. Nutrition levels were re-evaluated with the intent to eliminate excess and waste. The 1918 versions of these recipes reflected this, and the soups became somewhat “thinner”. Cooking procedures were also further simplified.
   
 Pea Soup, British Army, 1910-1917

     The mixed vegetables in these recipes were commonly carrots, parsnips or turnips, or any combination of what was available. Additional vegetables, fresh or cooked leftovers, could be added as available. The vegetables were added whole to the stock along with the peas then removed when tender and mashed or “pulped”.
   The authenticity of the finished product won’t suffer you prefer to use an immersion blender to pulp the ingredients.

Yield: 4 servings

US                               Metric                         Ingredients
64 fl oz                        1900 ml                       stock
7.5 oz                          210 g                           split peas
6.5 oz                          185 g                           mixed vegetables (carrot, turnip, parsnip)
2 oz                             60 g                             onions
2 oz                             60 g                             flour
½ tsp                           2.5 ml                          dried mint
1 tsp                            5 ml                             pepper
1 tsp                            5 ml                             salt      

Procedure:
1.      Peel the onion and vegetables. Leave whole.
2.      Rub the dried mint into a powder.
3.      Place the stock in a pot. Add the split peas and vegetables.
4.      Bring to a boil, low to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender.
5.      Take the vegetables out and pulp them.
6.      Mix the flour, a little cold water or stock, salt, and pepper into a smooth batter for thickening. Add the pulped vegetables to the batter and mix well together.
7.      Bring the pot to a “sharp” boil, add the thickener and stir gently until the soup comes to a boil again.
8.      Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
9.      Place a small amount or mint in the bottom of each mess tin or bowl before pouring the soup.


Lentil Soup, British Army, 1910-1917

As for Split Pea Soup, except:
Substitute for the split peas:
US                               Metric                         Ingredients
6.5 oz                           185 g                           lentils
Substitute for the dried mint:
¼ tsp                           1.5 ml                          celery seed
Proceed as for Pea Soup, except add the celery seed with the flour batter for thickening.

Pea & Lentil Soup, British Army, 1910-1917

As for Split Pea Soup, except:
Substitute for the split peas:
US                               Metric                         Ingredients
4.25 oz                        120 g                            lentils
3.2 oz                          90 g                             split peas
Substitute for the dried mint:
½ tsp                           3 ml                             dried mixed herbs (parsley, savory, thyme)

Proceed as for Pea Soup, except add the mixed herbs seed with the flour batter for thickening.

Barley Soup, British Army, 1910-1917

It is recommended to use hulled barley or pot barley. If you are using pearl barley, omit the step on soaking the barley in boiling water. For further details, please refer to the Ingredients section in the Basic Training chapter.

US                               Metric                         Ingredients
6.5 oz                          185 g                           barley
64 fl oz                        1900 ml                       beef stock
6.5 oz                          185 g                           mixed vegetables (carrots, parsnips, turnips)
2 oz                             60 g                             onions
2 oz                             60 g                             flour
¼ tsp                           1.5 ml                          celery seed
¼ tsp                           1.5 ml                          pepper
½ tsp                           3 ml                             salt                  

Procedure
1.      Scald the barley by pouring boiling water over it.
2.      Allow to stand for a few minutes, then drain.
3.      Proceed as for pea soup, adding the barley only after the stock has reached the boiling point.
4.   Omit the dried mint and add the celery seed with the flour batter and pulped vegetables. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

US Army Field Bread, 1916


Field Bread, US Army, 1916

         Field bread had a dense texture and a thick, tough crust. It would keep fresh longer and was less prone to damage in handling and transportation than garrison bread. Due to its larger size and circular shape (which occupied more oven space) and its subsequent longer baking time, field bread production was not as efficient as that of garrison bread. Five 2-pound garrison loaves could be baked in a standard 12 inch by 24 inch baking pan, whereas only two 4-pound field bread loaves would fit in the same pan.
     In 1918, as a matter of economy US Army units in France were instructed to bake 10-pound (!) rectangular field bread loaves in the 12 by 24 inch pans. This led to complaints about the bread crumbling and breaking when cut. HQ AEF (American Expeditionary Force) blamed the problem on mishandling and dull knives, rather than the apparent difficulties involved in transporting and handling such a cumbersome loaf. The sheer size of the loaf would have contributed to its fragility. Not surprisingly, the 10-pound loaf didn’t survive long after World War 1.
     Garrison bread was intended for consumption in garrison or in the field where it could be transported to the troops within one day. Further distances required the production of field bread. Field bread could be kept for a week, but it was recommended to be consumed within 48 hours.
Field bread was produced in the field bakery, which was a part of the division level organizations. This type of field bread was still being produced in the earlier stages of World War 2, but was eventually replaced by “garrison field bread” for field use.
     In 1916 the recipe called for cottonseed oil, as cottonseed oil was the major vegetable oil produced in the United States the time. Also, cottonseed oil does not deteriorate or change flavor when used at high temperatures. In 1941, wartime shortages of cottonseed oil forced the utilization of soybean oil. Three years later, soybean oil production outstripped that of cottonseed oil.
     It should be noted that the 1916 edition of the Manual for Army Bakers the baking instructions were intended for the "old" field oven, which was wood-fired and subject to drastic temperature drops when loading. This necessitated the higher baking temperature of 450°F and for 10 minutes longer. When attempting to bake field bread at 450°F in a modern electric oven, the crust of the field bread was overdone after only about 30 minutes. The baking time and temperature for the US Army's more efficient "new" field oven are given in later versions of The Army Baker, about one hour  and 20 minutes at 325° to 340° F. This is more in line with what would be expected with a modern oven, and gives excellent results.





Field Bread, US Army, 1916
Yield: one 4-pound loaf.

U.S.                             Metric             Ingredients
48 oz                           1360g              bread flour
1.5 oz                          43 g                 sugar
0.9 oz                          26 g                 salt
0.25 fl oz (1½ tsp)       7.5 ml              cottonseed oil* or lard
24 fl oz                        710 ml             water
½ tsp                           2.5 ml              instant dry yeast


Field Bread Just Out of Oven, 1916...

... and, Field Bread Just Out of Oven, 2012

 Cut after cooling; note the dense texture.
                              
Procedure  (Straight dough mixing method)
1.      Mix all ingredients together into a very stiff dough.
2.      Knead well until dough is smooth.
3.      Let rise for four and one-half hours.
4.      Punch down dough.
5.      Let rise for one hour.
6.      Punch second time.
7.      Round up and flatten into a round loaf about 1½ inch thick. The loaf should be approximately 11 inches in diameter.
8.      Place on a greased baking sheet or in a large pan.
9.  Allow 15 minute proof in the pan or baking sheet.
10.  Just before putting in the oven make a round hole in the center of the loaf with the ends of the thumb and forefinger joined together.
11.  This hole is sufficient size to permit the gas to escape and will result in a load less liable to crush in transportation, less subject to mold, and with a smoother appearance.
12.  Bake for about one hour and 20 minutes at 325-340°F. 

* Any vegetable oil may be substituted.