Today we’re taking a bite right out of history and featuring a camp bread from the old West. This bread came from the cowboys along the south Texas border known as Vaqueros. It was an easy bread to make with only a few ingredients.
Sourdough was generally a bread staple, but for a quicker and easier bread, Pan de Campo (also known as camp bread or cowboy bread) was a go-to. It was said that the cowboys would keep the salt and baking powder in their snuff can so they could easily access it for a quick bread. One style of cooking this bread is in a skillet over an open fire and flipping while cooking. We’ll be doing it in a Dutch oven, which gives it a little more thickness.
Get to Mixing!
Take 2 cups of all-purpose flour. I recommend sifting it in there to make sure it’s fine. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Traditionally, folks would be using 1-2 teaspoons, however I like a little more pop in the bread so I’m using 1 tablespoon.
Cut in 2 tablespoons of lard with a spoon or your fingers. Keep working it until is is crumbled into the mixture.
Pour the dry ingredients on a cutting board (or other surface you’re working on) and form into a pile. With your finger make a well in the middle.
At this point, we’re going to add about ⅓ of a cup of oil to the well. I like to do it a little bit at a time. Pour some oil in the well and mix it together with a spoon, knife or spatula (watch our method in the video below). I like to use nearly a cutting method to bread up all the oil. Then, form the pile with the well in the middle, add more oil, and mix it again. Make sure to break all the lumps of oil in there.
I’m using hash knife for mixing it together, and I have to say it does the trick really well. You can use what you’ve got, but if you want to get of them hash knives, go here.
After you mix all that oil with flour, your dough should be of this consistency:
Keep chopping and incorporating that together really well.
Now, we’re going to add ¾ to 1 cup of milk. Alternatively, you can use water as they would have on the trail. Pile the dough up again and make a well in the middle like we did before. Add a little milk in it and go to incorporating.
When the dough begins to stick a little, sift some flour on the surface, if needed. You want to achieve a soft dough that isn’t too sticky, so adjust your milk and/or flour as needed.
Knead the Dough
Now, we have to knead the dough, so it’s soft, not sticky, and has less moisture. In our previous video of Sopapillas, we showed you how to knead and stretch it well, you can see it here. That way we’re making sure that any of that lard and oil in there isn’t going to clump up. Knead for 2 to 3 minutes.
When the dough isn’t sticky, form it into a good-sized ball, and place back on the floured surface. Roll is out to about 1/2-inch thick, keeping it in a round shape.
Now, Let’s Fry our Pan de Campo
Get your 10-inch Dutch oven or skillet greased. If you’re doing this outside in a Dutch oven here are some tips (see indoor cooking recipe below):
- Dry the grass or ground out around the cooking area if wet, to maintain a better heat.
- Use a heavy ring of coals around the bottom edge of the Dutch oven and heavy on top. This is a heartier bread that can withstand more heat.
- Be sure to rotate your Dutch oven a couple of times while cooking (the top in one direction and the bottom of the oven in the opposite direction) to even out the heat.
- When baking breads we like to use a tall trivet here, to regulate heat better.
In the video below, you can get more tips for cooking this bread. We also have a special surprise in the video with a special guest sharing some history so be sure to check it out!
When the bread is brown on top and bottom, it is a done deal. You can easily take a fork and lift up the bread slightly to see how it’s browning so this is an easy deal to bake in a Dutch oven.
Y’all enjoy and we’ll see you in the next recipe.
Pan de Campo - Cowboy Kent Rollins
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons shortening or lard
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- ¾ to 1 cup milk
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
- Crumble in the lard or shortening with your fingers or a spoon, until there are no large pieces.
Slowly pour in the oil and keep stirring to combine. Slowly stir in ¾ cup of milk. Stir in more milk if needed to create a soft dough.
- Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Roll the dough out to ½-inch thick. Place the dough in a greased 10-inch cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top and bottom are a light golden brown.
*To see our traditional method of making this check out our Pan de Campo Youtube video youtube.com/cowboykentrollins