4 cups all-purpose flour (500g)
4 tbsp. sugar (50g)
2 tsp. baking powder (8g)
1 tbsp. salt (12g)
¼ cup vegetable shortening (50g)
¼ cup vegetable oil (60ml)
About 2 cups milk (500ml)
To bake in a home oven
Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Sift together the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the shortening and vegetable oil and work the dough with your hands until it resembles coarse meal. Add 1 1/2 cups of the milk (375ml) and stir. The dough should be sticky but workable. If the dough is too stiff, add more milk; if the dough is too thin, add more flour.
Turn the dough onto a counter dusted with flour and knead for about a minute, but don’t overwork it. Pat out gently or roll into a 9” (23cm) circle that is a ½” (1cm) thick. Using a fork, prick the dough all over. Place it on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. When done, the pan de campo should be golden brown on the outside and have a biscuit texture on the inside.
To bake pan de campo over a fire:
Prepare the recipe as directed above but use a 14” cast iron Dutch oven with a heavy lid. The Dutch oven needs to have feet to sit above the live embers.
The mesquite wood that we use in Texas for all our outdoor cooking burns hotter and smoky or than almost any other wood and gives the bread extra crispiness with just a hint of mesquite flavor.
Build a mesquite fire, and once your fire has burned for about 30 minutes so it has a study at calm heat, you’re ready to bake. Using a shovel, transfer some of the coals to a separate spot a few feet from your fire. Arrange the coals in a small bed about 2 square feet (60 sq cm.) Remove the lid and grease interior of your Dutch oven generously with vegetable shortening. Replace lid and put your Dutch oven in the center of the coals to heat for about 10 minutes. Once heated, remove the lid and unfold the pan de campo dough in the Dutch oven. Adjust the dough so it is centered in the pan.
Replace the lid, and using your shovel, pile of small amount of live coals top of the lid so that the Dutch oven is entirely surrounded with gentle heat. After 10 minutes, open the Dutch oven, and flip the pan de campo for even baking.
The skill in making pan de campo over live coals is in controlling the temperature of the Dutch oven. Too hot and the bread will burn. Too cold and it will not cook properly. Remember that you need a 450°F (232°C) oven to bake pan de campo successfully in your home oven, so your Dutch oven needs to be maintained at the same temperature. Using a thermometer with a live fire is a bit difficult, so judgment and experience with eventually become the tools on which you rely for perfect pan de campo.