Recipe for Cowboy bread

Katherine Hysmith

Makes one loaf

A gentrified descendant of the traditional pan de campo (camp bread), this simple spice loaf is said to have originated on the dusty trail to give riders a small piece of home and comfort. The first recipe probably used lard or oil instead of butter, and molasses instead of brown sugar, both staples on chuck wagons and trail rides. Baked in a heavy Dutch oven over a glowing campfire, the bread, which is like coffeecake, gained popularity and eventually made its way into home kitchens. Nowadays, a standard glass loaf pan (8½ by 4½ inches) steps in for the cast iron and a few extra spices support the standard cinnamon.

Butter (for the pan)
cups flour
cups brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ teaspoon baking soda
teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk

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1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Butter an 8½-inch by 4½-inch loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, and salt to blend them. Add the butter and cut it in with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Set aside ½ cup of the mixture.

3. To the flour-butter mixture in the bowl, add the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture. Stir well, but do not overstir. Transfer the batter to the pan and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup flour mixture.

5. Bake the bread for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf is clean when withdrawn. Cool the bread in the pan for 15 minutes. Turn out and serve warm with butter.
Katherine Hysmith

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