The puffy, golden rounds of bread known as Indian horno bread were traditionally prepared in a horno oven, a beehive-shaped adobe structure first introduced to the Southwest by the Spanish.
In a horno oven, wood is lighted and left to cook until the oven reaches a high temperature – almost three hours later! From there, the baker rakes the coals, seals the oven’s door and smoke hole and places the dough inside the oven to bake. The horno bread is ready when it’s golden brown and sounds hollow when thumped, resulting in an earthy, savory flavor. The Fort houses its own horno oven in the courtyard, although it is primarily used for demonstrations, as the bread baking is such a lengthy process.
In case you don’t have the equipment – or patience – for Indian horno bread, you can still recreate its authentic flavor in a standard oven by following the recipe below.
Makes two loaves:
- 1 tbsp. (1 ¼-oz. package) active dry yeast
- ¼ c. lukewarm water
- 4 ½ tbsp. melted lard or shortening
- 4 ½ c. sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 c. water
In the bowl of a standing mixer with a dough hook attachment, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. Let stand until the yeast foams, about 5 minutes. Mix in 2 tbsp. of the melted shortening, blending thoroughly. Sift together the flour and salt, then add the flour and water alternately, mixing until a smooth dough forms. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turning once so that the top is oiled. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double in size, about 1 hour. The dough is ready when impressions are left when pressed.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
When the dough has doubled, punch it down and knead vigorously on a lightly floured board for at least 5 minutes. Shape into 2 balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Brush the loaves with the remaining 2 ½ tbsp. melted shortening and let them rise in a warm place for 15 minutes. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the loaves are lightly browned. Enjoy!