We Knead To Bake #36 : Broa de Milho - Portuguese Corn Bread
This month’s We Knead To Bake bread is a popular Portuguese bread called Broa de Milho. Broa de Milho is a slightly sweet crusty Portuguese bread made with a mix of wheat or rye flour and corn flour (not cornstarch). In Brazil, a former Portuguese colony, Broa is sweeter and traditionally seasoned with fennel. The origin of the name Broa is apparently from the Gothic word “brauth” which means bread.
This is a somewhat dense bread with a fine crumb and is excellent as a dipping bread with soups and stews. In Portugal it is traditionally served with Caldo de Verde, a potato and kale/ spinach soup but it goes well with most hearty/ rustic soups.
This method of making this bread is a little different because it involves cooking the cornmeal/ corn flour in boiling water and letting it cool before adding the other flour and ingredients and kneading to a dough.
If you’re in India, use “makkai ki atta” or the flour that is used to make “Makkai ki Roti”. You can also use the slightly coarse “Corn puttu podi” you get in Kerala. You can also substitute a quarter of the all purpose flour with light rye flour or half the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour if you want, but know that your bread will be a little more dense.
There seem to be different schools of thought where most of them just ask you to dust the shaped dough with flour and bake after the second rise. Others require slashing of the dough before baking. I've baked both versions, with and without slashes and also baked it to a light golden brown or a darker brown. Whichever way I baked it, I have only good things to say about the Broa de Milho. Of course, it helps that mostly like anything with some form of corn in it. This recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour.
- Put the cornmeal in a bowl and add the hot water to it. Mix together with a fork and then add 1/2 cup of the warm milk. Mix everything till you have a paste like dough. Let it sit until the mixture cools a little and becomes lukewarm.
- From here you can knead by hand or machine. Put the cornmeal dough and all the remaining ingredientsMix together the cornmeal and hot water in a small bowl. Stir in the warm milk, and let the mixture cool to lukewarm. Then add the remaining ingredients and mix and knead them together -- by hand, mixer or bread machine -- to form a smooth, slightly sticky dough.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl, and turn it around to coat well. Cover loosely and let it rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours until it is puffy.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it lightly a couple of times. Shape into a ball and place it on a parchment or lightly floured/ greased baking tray. Cover loosely and let it rise for about an hour till it looks quite puffed up.
- Just before baking, if you choose to, make 3 or 4 slashes about 1/4" deep on the crust. Spritz the top lightly with water and bake the loaf at 230C (450F) for 10 minutes. Then turn down the heat to 200C (400F) and let it bake for about 15 to 20 minutes till it is done and golden brown in colour.
- Let it cool. Slice and serve. This recipe makes 1 loaf (about 12 slices).