The official State Bread of Texas, Pan de Campo, is traditionally cooked in a cast iron dutch oven outside. I love cooking outside with my dutch oven, but since its wintertime, I’ve adjusted the recipe for a home oven.
The bread itself is really just a giant biscuit that you cut up like you would cornbread.
The name pan de campo translates directly to “country bread,” and the bread itself was prevalent with vaqueros throughout South Texas. There is some argument that pan de campo is more of a regional bread than sourdough biscuits, and that sourdough biscuits should be the state bread since it was more prevalent throughout the whole State of Texas.
Regardless of the debate, the issue has been settled. In 2005 legislation was signed to make pan de campo the official State Bread of Texas.
How to Make Pan de Campo
The key to making a good biscuit (and, pan de campo is basically just a giant biscuit) is to keep from melting the fat you are introducing into the flour. If the fat stays solid until you start cooking, it will leave those delicious air pockets throughout the bread.
If you overwork it, your pan de campo will end up dense and unappetizing.
To keep from melting the fat, we recommend using a pastry cutter to keep the warmth of your hands from heating up the flour.
Just add the shortening to the flour and work it in with the pastry cutter until it is cut up into pebble-sized pieces. After that, you’ll slowly add the milk and stir it in until you get a sticky dough.
From there, you’ll turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it for one minute. DO NOT overwork it in this stage. You’ll have to use your hands here, and you don’t want to heat your dough up too much.
Finally, flatten it out with your hands, then roll it into a 1/2-inch thick circle.
Tips for making your pan de campo in the oven:
- Preheat your pan for at least five minutes. If you don’t, the pan will be too cool during the short cook time and the bottom won’t cook properly.
- Use a heat proof plate or pan to help you flip. If you put a heat proof plate over the top of your pan, then flip the whole thing over, it’ll make it much easier. Trying to do it with a spatula can result in breaking your bread up. Just be careful not to burn yourself.
- Use the broiler to turn the top golden brown. Turn your broiler on high for the last few minutes of cooking to give the top that golden brown color. Remember, you eat with your eyes first. Just keep an eye on it, so you don’t burn the top of the bread.
Pan de Campo – The State Bread of Texas
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Grease your skillet with 1-2 tablespoons of shortening, then preheat in oven for at least 5 minutes.
- Combine all of your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly with a wire whisk. Add your shortening and cut in with your pastry cutter until it is broken down into pea-sized pieces.
- Slowly add your milk, stirring until it is fully incorporated and a tacky dough forms. Do not overwork your dough.
- Turn your dough out onto a floured surface and knead for one minute. Again, being careful not to overwork the dough.
- Roll the dough into a ball, then flatten out with your hands. Using a rolling pin, roll it out into a 1/2 inch thick circle.
- Carefully place the circle of dough into your skillet. Place into the oven and cook for 10 minutes, carefully flip the dough, then cook an additional 5 minutes. If you want a golden top to your pan de campo, turn your broiler on high for the last 3 minutes of cooking.