The official bread of Texas, Pan de Campo is a cowboy bread usually baked in a cast-iron skillet over an open campfire. Originated by the Tejanos, culturally descendents from the original Spanish settlers from Tejas, Coahuila, and other northern Mexican states, the bread recipe was a staple for the cowboys and vaqueros of South Texas. Named the official state bread of Texas in 2005 by Governor Rick Perry, the bread has inspired various cook-offs throughout the year. You're not a Texan unless you've had a taste of Pan de Campo bread.
What is Pan de Campo?
The ingredients for Pan de Campo are simple and were easy for cowboys to carry around in their saddlebags. While many think they baked sourdough, cowboys and ranchers rarely had the ability to carry around sourdough starters. So they made hardtack, cornbread, and Pan de Campo in their cast iron skillets and ovens.
Pan De Campo Essentials
The only tool you need to make this cowboy classic is a cast iron pan. Cast iron, which was invented during the Han Dynasty in China, was worth its weight in gold to Texas settlers. It was easy to transport, could retain heat, and could even be used as a weapon if necessary.
Lodge Cast Iron is one of the recognizable brands today. As long as you keep it seasoned, these pans can almost outlive you.
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
How to Make Pan de Campo
All you need is some all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, water, and lard to make this bread. Some people like to use buttermilk in place of the water or vegetable oil in place of the lard.
To start, mix all of your dry ingredients in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or your hands, cut in the shortening until it is the size of large peas. Add hot water to make a thick dough.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead the dough for two to three minutes, making sure not to overwork it. Divide the dough into two portions and let rest for 20 minutes.
Form the dough into rounds with a rolling pin and place it in a preheated cast-iron skillet.
Bake the bread for 6 minutes, then flip the bread and bake an additional 6 minutes. Remove from oven and slather with honey butter. There are also pan de campo recipes to make them in a dutch oven and using other methods, but we like this one!
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