Girl Scout Fare: Biscuit Loaf

“A Girl Scout is Thrifty”

Taken from the 1920 Scouting for Girls, the original Girl Scouting handbook, the motto above was one of ten that American Girl Scouts lived by. Started in 1912 by Mrs. Juliette Low, the Girl Scouts encouraged independence, thrift, cheerfulness, loyalty and obedience. The ideal Girl Scout was brave and resourceful. She knew first aid and how to best store potatoes in a country cellar. She could march for miles in pouring rain and decode semaphore signals. Like their British sisters, the American Girl Scouts were intended to be an asset to both family and country.

The Girl Scouts also sought to foster a love of the outdoors, and frequent camping trips taught young scouts how to deftly withstand the elements and cultivate survival skills like fire building and outdoor cookery. Girl Scout camps lacked frills — just a few spare shelters of canvas and wood in which to pass the night sufficed for the troops. During meals, the scouts prepared their provisions in tin pots and frying pans, using “camp cranes,” a horse of pine tree branches, to hold the larger pots over the camp fire.

Girl scouts and tent in camp early 20th century
Girl Scouts at camp

Simple fare nourished the Girl Scouts. They enjoyed beef stews, boiled potatoes and hot cocoa on their camping trips. “Biscuit Loaf,” the standard camp bread, was especially popular; it accompanied almost every meal. Here’s a recipe from the 1920 handbook. You need not make this bread over a camp fire, however. Bake it in a medium oven ( 350 degrees F.) for approximately one hour, or until golden brown.

Biscuit Loaf

(Serves 4)

3 pints flour, 3 heaping teaspoonfuls baking powder, 1 heaping teaspoonful salt, 2 heaping tablespoonfuls cold grease, 1 scant pint cold water. Amount of water varies according to quality of flour.

Mix thoroughly, with a big spoon or wooden paddle, first the baking powder with the flour and then the salt. Rub into this the cold grease (which may be lard, cold pork fat, drippings) until there are no lumps left and no grease adhering to the bottom of the pan. This is a little tedious, but don’t shirk it.

Then stir in the water and work it with spoon until you have a rather stiff dough. Have the pan greased. Turn the load into it and bake. Test center of loaf with a sliver when you think properly done. When no dough adheres remove bread. All hot breads should be broken with the hand, never cut.

To freshen any that is left over and dried out, sprinkle a little water over it and heat through. This can be done but once.


Baumgarthuber, Christine. Fermented Foods: The History and Science of a Microbiological Wonder. Reaktion Books, 2021.

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