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Enjoy warm, country-style pan de campo just like the cowboys did! It’s a basic quick bread recipe with a comforting flavor and tender crumb. You can make it with just a handful of ingredients and 15 minutes of your time!
Have you ever heard of a homemade bread recipe that you can make in less than 15 minutes? Introducing pan de campo, also known as cowboy bread!
Did you know it’s the state bread of Texas? And you know how they say everything’s bigger in Texas, right? Well, that rings true with this old-fashioned, cowboy classic country bread. It’s almost like eating a huge biscuit!
Traditional pan de campo is as simple as it gets: baking powder, flour, milk, sugar, salt, and shortening. Keep it simple with just a little melted butter or a drizzle of honey, or serve with soup or beans — the go-to camp foods.
Table of Contents
- Flour – All-purpose flour is fantastic for “quick breads”, or breads made without yeast. It has the ideal protein content for dense, substantial loaf.
- Baking Powder – The other must-have ingredient in quick bread is baking powder to achieve leavening. This makes the cowboy bread rise, albeit only moderately. If you need to substitute with baking soda, you’ll only need ⅔ teaspoons – just a third of the amount of baking soda.
- Sugar – Just a pinch will keep the bread moist and tender. Use granulated sugar, not powdered or liquid. I use white cane sugar.
- Lard or Shortening – Shortening tends to be the best vegetarian option. Lard, on the other hand, will make for a more attractive browning. Note that lard does have a distinct taste – if you’ve never used it before, I would go with shortening for your first go at this recipe.
- Whole Milk – Substituting with skimmer milk will make for less soft, less moist bread.
Baking powder acts as a rising agent in bread and biscuits. It triggers a chemical reaction, releasing carbon dioxide when combined with moisture and heat. This gas expands within the dough, creating air pockets that make the baked goods fluffy, tender, and rise beautifully while baking.
- Prep the Oven & Skillet. While the oven preheats to 450 degrees F, grease the skillet with a few tablespoons of oil and set aside.
- Combine & Cut In. Combine the salt, sugar, flour, and baking powder with a whisk. Then, add the shortening and “cut in” with your fingers or a pastry cutter.
- Create the Dough. Pour the milk in slowly, stirring constantly until the dough takes on a tacky texture. Do not overwork it and stir until only just combined to avoid a tough texture.
- Form the Bread. Plop the dough onto a floured workspace. Knead for a minute until workable, rolling into a ball, and flatten with your hands. Use a rolling pin to work it into a ½” thick circle. Prick the dough with a fork to allow steam to escape while baking and promote even cooking.
- Bake. Place the dough in the skillet and slide the skillet into the oven. Bake for 6 minutes, flip, and bake for another 6 minutes.
- Serve. Remove from the skillet to prevent further cooking, then enjoy right away with melted butter, jam, or honey.
- Cast Iron Skillet – For a golden brown crust and truly traditional pan de campo appearance, you have to go with a cast iron skillet! I use a 12-inch skillet when I prepare this recipe.
- Pastry Cutter – This simple tool makes cutting in much easier — a must-have for bakers!
Storing and Reheating
Cowboy bread can be kept at room temperature for up to 4 days. To enjoy leftovers warm, microwave briefly — 30 seconds should be plenty. I love it with jam.
Pan de campo is also great for freezing! Slice and wrap the bread in two layers: once in plastic, then once in foil. If you can store it in a freezer bag, too, that would be even better.
Let it thaw in the fridge and reheat in the microwave.
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The answer depends on the kind of bread you’re baking.
Lower temps are associated with very soft breads. Think sandwich loaves and potato or yeast rolls. These are baked at around 350 degrees F.
I bake sourdoughs, cowboy bread, and biscuits somewhere around 450-475 degrees F to achieve a drier, thicker crust and more crumbly texture.
Cutting in is the process of adding the fat to dough in such a way that it is incorporated evenly in solid clumps. We utilize this technique to make breads flaky and tender.
This is accomplished with a pastry cutter, two knives, or simply your hands!
Working with cast iron is all about proper seasoning and greasing.
A few tablespoons of oil is sufficient. You can usually tell by sight: a skillet that’s been properly greased is dark with a bit of a gloss, while excessive greasing for a significant gloss is overkill.
If you are worried about sticking, you can also preheat the skillet as the oven preheats – but if the cast iron is seasoned, this step is unnecessary.
Pan de Campo (Cowboy Campfire Bread)
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, set aside.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients, then cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter or your fingers until crumbly.
- Slowly add milk, stirring until it is fully incorporated and a tacky dough forms. Do not overwork it.
- Turn dough out on a clean floured surface and knead for another minute. Roll dough into a ball, then flatten out with your hands. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a 1/2-inch thick circle. Prick the top all over with a fork.
- Place the circle of dough into your skillet and place in the oven. Bake for about 6 minutes, then carefully flip the bread and bake 6 minutes more.
- Serve with butter and or honey drizzled on top.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.