Pan de Pueblo- translated as ‘bread of the people’ is a light, airy bread the Spanish go crazy for! Often in bakers around Spain, by 11 am the shelves where the freshly baked pan de pueblo stood, will be bare!
There is some advance preparation to make this bread but believe me, it is well worth it, and it’s perfect for a Dutch oven. Another plus is that it needs very little kneading!
You will need to make a masa madre (literally ‘mother dough’) or sourdough in advance to make this in a truly authentic manner. But I’ve seen it done with fresh yeast too so feel free to substitute if you haven’t got the time to prepare your masa madre.
It’s a simple process to make the sourdough, but it does require patience. Once made, it can last for years if cared for correctly. It can be refrigerated or even frozen so you can use it again and again, only having to reactivate it at room temperature and adding extra flour and water once a week when it’s in the fridge or when you defrost it.
Bread with sourdough is a method of adding a portion of fermented dough to your bread dough and has been used by our ancestors way back before commercial yeast was available. Bakers and villagers all over Spain still use this method down to this day.
All you need for the sourdough is whole wheat or rye flour and tepid water in equal measures and patience…
Day 1: In a glass bowl or jar mix half a cup of tepid water and half a cup of whole wheat or rye flour. Cover with plastic wrap or a loose-fitting lid to allow for gases to escape. Let it stand at room temperature for 24 hours.
Day 2: Add about a third of a cup each of flour and water. Mix well and leave for another 24 hours. You might see bubbles at this stage, and a colored water appears on the surface- that’s great, it’s working!
Day3: Add about a third cup each of flour and water. Mix well and leave for another 24 hours. This is the time you should see growth, and if it expands to a frothy aerated mixture, it’s ready, but it depends on how warm it is where you left it. In Summer it’s quicker than in Winter. If necessary, repeat the process for a few more days until it becomes bubbly and visibly grows in size.
If you are new to dutch oven cooking, be sure to check out this article here.
Once you finish reading the recipe below, be sure to check out these recipes.
So you’ve got your sourdough. Here’s the recipe for Pan de Pueblo.
Be sure to keep in mind that prep time is 15 minutes but resting time before cooking is 5 hours.
- 4 cups bread flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1¾ cup of tepid water
- 2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 cup masa madre (sourdough)
- Mix the sourdough into the water until fully dissolved.
- Add the salt, sugar and mix.
- Mix in both the flours.
- Stretch and fold to form a wet but smooth dough.
- Form a ball shape and leave covered in a warmish place for at least 5-6 hours or overnight. If you can stretch and fold the dough 3-4 times every half hour or so that’ll be great for making it lighter with more holes.
- Place in a well-floured Dutch oven and cut the dough about an inch deep to form a cross on top.
- Flour the top of the dough.
- Cover with the lid of the Dutch oven and sit about 5’’ above the coals below. Place a few coals on the lid but not too many.
- It should take about 40 minutes to cook through but insert a skewer to see that it’s not doughy.