Pot Bread, just as the title suggests is cooked in a pot on the stove top. Why would anyone want to cook bread on the stove top? Growing up in the Guyana/Caribbean many people didn't have ovens or access to an oven, but still wanted to enjoy homemade bread. My dad was a pork-knocker for most of my childhood. Pork-knockers are independent prospectors who mine for gold and diamond in Guyana's interiors.
My dad always made pot bread when he was home and said that this was the way they bread it in "the bush" as Guyana's interiors are commonly referred to. Today, I'm sharing this recipe as a request from a dear friend, who was feeling a bit nostalgic and wanting to recreate a piece of his childhood. I was happy to consult my dad and my aunt on this recipe and I could see the nostalgia my dad felt talking about making pot bread.
Making the Dough
Pot bread dough is made similar to other bread dough. Combine flour, yeast, sugar, a pinch of salt and some fat to make a stiff dough ball. Let it rise, punch it down, knead it again and cook it. Sounds familiar? The entire process up until the cooking is exactly the same steps for making oven baked bread. The only deviation from the pot bread dough and how I make regular dough, for example for my Guyanese Plait Bread, is that I use less fat and liquid to make this dough a bit stiffer. I made this adjustment because half way through cooking the bread is flipped over and I want it to be sturdy enough that it doesn't deflate or become floppy.
Proofing the Pot Bread Dough
For this Pot Bread recipe, I proofed the dough only once, because I am using instant or rapid rising yeast. If you use regular yeast, you will need to activate it first with a warm water and sugar solution. Then you will need to let the dough rise after kneading and then rise again after punching down, kneading again and resting just before cooking the bread. These are all basic bread making steps that are no different for this bread.
Cooking the pot bread
Just before cooking the pot bread, I knead the dough into a tight and smooth dough ball. If you are using dry active yeast, you must let the dough rest for 20-30 minutes after this final kneading, for best results. Before placing the dough into the pot to cook, I add a light dusting of flour to the bottom of the pot. This prevents the bread from sticking to the pot. Typically in bread baking we grease the pan before adding the bread, but in this case greasing the pan will give the pot bread a bit of an oily texture which we are trying to avoid.
Cooking the pot bread low and slow
When my dad made this bread growing up, he made it using an old heavy cast iron pressure pot that we kept around just for pot bread making. He didn't use the pressure pot cover but only needed it because it was a thick and heavy pot that allowed for even distribution of heat and the creation of oven like conditions when heated. I have a very clear image of that pot sitting on a kerosene oil stove on the counter in our kitchen, slowly cooking bread.
Using a dutch oven
I cooked my bread in a cast iron dutch oven. You will need a really heavy bottom pot for this recipe and the dutch oven was perfect. This bread cooks low and slow and takes 1 ½ hours to cook! It is not the kind of bread you make in a hurry. In Fact, in my first round of recipe testing I got impatient, turned up the heat and burned the bread to a charcoal crisp.
I cooked my bread on low heat but not the lowest heat possible on my electric burner. I set the stove to the ¼ mark closest to the lowest mark. The temperature varies from stove to stove, so you will have to gauge whether or not you have too much heat. After my pot was on the heat for 10 minutes, I touched the side of the pot to feel the temperature of the pot. It was warm to the touch but not hot. This is right amount of heat for cooking pot bread. If the pot is cold, then it is not warm enough and your dough will not cook all the way through. If the pot is hot to the tough, then the dough will burn.
After cooking the bread for 45 minutes on low, I flipped it over using a spatula and continued cooking for another 45 minutes. I consulted my aunt (who is an expert at Guyanese cuisine) and my dad for this recipe. They both warned that this bread would take a long time to cook and they were right. During my second recipe testing, I put my phone timer on and went about my normal morning routine with my children. You don't need to check the bread at anytime while it is cooking, except at the half way mark when you flip the bread. So it was easy for me to put it on and walk away as long as my timer was nearby.
Save it for later
When the bread finished cooking I cut the pot bread open. ThenI placed a generous amount of sweet cream butter on a wedge of bread and took a bite. It took me right back to our kitchen in Campbellville and memories of my dad making this bread. And it was so worth it. My children loved this bread and I was so happy to share a part of my childhood with them! This pot bread is soft, but solid. Flipping the dough during cooking compacts the texture of the bread. This gives it a uniqueness that pot bread is known for. I hope you give this recipe a try and relive some of the "olden days," as my son says.
- 2 cups All Purpose flour plus extra for dusting
- ½ tablespoon Instant/Rapid rising yeast
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon of fat butter, margarine, coconut oil, shortening
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of warm water about 110 °F
- Combine the flour, yeast, brown sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and mix together well
- Then rub the fat into the dry ingredients
- Then add the warm water and mix together to form a stiff dough
- Knead the dough into a smooth ball (this should take about 10 minutes)
- Then place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a kitchen towel or damp paper towel and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size. This should take about 45 minutes to 1 hour
- Once the dough doubles in size punch down and knead again into a smooth ball
- Then sprinkle a light dusting of flour at the bottom of a heavy pot, like a cast iron dutch oven and place the dough into the pot
- Cover the pot then place the pot on low heat and cook the bread for 45 minutes
- Then flip the bread over using a spatula and continue to cook for another 45 minutes
- Next remove the bread from the pot cover with a kitchen towel and allow it to cool for about 5 to 10 minutes
- Enjoy your warm bread with some butter or cheese
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