Planning snacks for seven guys on a week-long trip to the Quetico can be a daunting task, but Scott knew one sure-fire option that would make the entire crew happy: Hudson Bay Bread.
Hudson Bay Bread (HBB) is a bit of a misnomer. It's not actually bread. It's more like a bar. A really dense, thick, high-calorie, high-energy bar loaded with carbs, fats, and proteins.
HBB has been a Boy Scout tradition for decades. The story goes that the BSA picked up the recipe from Edmund Hillary, right around the time he was climbing Mt. Everest!
In recent years, HBB has since become popular in the Midwest, particularly with troops traveling to the BWCA, because it's a quick snack that, in addition to being energy- and calorie-packed, travels well, can be frozen, and is easy to eat on the trail. It's a perfect solution for those times on the trail when you need something to eat right now!
There are several recipes of HBB, and it seems like the more people try it, the more variation you can find. That's one of the great things about HBB—it's easily modified to suit your personal taste, so don't be afraid to experiment with ingredients! There are some foundational ingredients, but really, HBB can quickly be made to conform to your taste buds.
Below is the Hudson Bay Bread recipe I used for Scott's recent trip into the Quetico—straight from the Northern Tier High Adventure Base in Ely, MN!
Hudson Bay Bread Recipe
1½ lbs butter
4 cups sugar
2/3 cups Karo syrup (or molasses)
2/3 cups honey
2 tsp maple syrup
1½ cups chopped walnuts (or sliced almonds)
19 cups of ground quick-cooking oats
- Heat oven to 325 degrees.
- Cream together the butter, sugar, Karo syrup, honey, and maple syrup. Gradually add the walnuts and oats, mixing together thoroughly.
- After everything is mixed well, spread and press down your HBB creation in a 18" x 26"sheet pan or for thicker HBB, use a 9" x 13" baking pan.
- Bake for 15 to 18 minutes (if you're using a 9"x 13" baking pan, your cook time will increase to about 21 minutes), or until lightly browned on the corners. Do not overcook it, and press down the bread as soon as you pull it out of oven—this keeps it from crumbling later when you cut your slices. It's easier to cut the HBB into pieces when they're warm, so let it cool for a few minutes, but not too long, before cutting it.
- After you have your pieces cut, let them cool completely, and then wrap them in wax paper. If your trip is more than a couple of days out, seal up all the wrapped HBB in a freezer bag and stow in the freezer until you're ready to pack.
NOTE: Nineteen cups of oats (ground or not!) is a LOT of oats! As much as I tried, I physically couldn't mix 19 cups of oats in one batch. I maxed out at 12 cups. The HBB still turned out just fine (it wasn't too gooey), so don't worry if you can't cram all those oats into one batch.
I made two batches of HBB (one with Karo and one with molasses instead of Karo syrup) and froze both batches. Scott packed them in his Kondos Outdoors insulated bag, and he said they stayed frozen and helped keep other food cold for days. The HBB thawed rather quickly when removed from the insulated pack, so when the guys were ready for a calorie-laden snack, the HBB was perfect.
Since it is now a staple on our outdoor adventures, the next HBB recipe I'm going to try is this recipe, which the author says is from the Gunflint Lodge on the Gunflint Trail (a favorite destination for Scott and I!).
One last note: HBB can be great on its own, but slathered in peanut butter or Nutella makes it so much better! Then again, Nutella makes pretty much everything better.