BBB - Portuguese Corn Bread... minus the corn?

I miss corn bread sometimes.  I still have a little corn meal in the pantry; I should give it away.  For the most part now, if something has corn or a corn derivative in the ingredient label, you won't find it in our house.  I REALLY hope my daughter can outgrow this allergy, but that and the soy will be the most difficult ones since they affect her so strongly.  So when I first saw this month's BBB challenge, Portuguese Corn Bread, from Elizabeth's blog from OUR kitchen I thought, well fiddlesticks, can't do that one.  But then again, I've been wanting to see if I can't at least approximate something corn like in a bread form.  I've tried corn pancakes and they turned out okay.  Not as mealy as I would have liked, but okay.  The corn flavor is the hardest to come by.  I think I'll try this one again with one more flavor tweak because the texture is so awesome toasted or grilled.  Why even bother, you ask?  I try to make as many things possible available to my daughter in a non-allergenic form as I can so she can have a sense of normalcy and not feel left out.  For instance, I will be making candy corn again this year for her.  Without the corn syrup of course.  That one in particular, the epitome of Halloween candy, makes her feel like she is really missing out.  Just try going through the grocery checkout without seeing little bags of them hanging all over!  So what did I use instead of cornmeal and cornflour?  Farina and millet.  I've heard that millet can give a corny flavor so it was worth a try.
     Tonight I'm going to toast up this rendition and serve it with nice hot Ribollita.  Yum!  Perfect for dipping in soup.  The original is Ribollita con Crostnini di Pane so this would be Ribollita con Crostini di Broa I guess.  ☺

     I ended up with a dough on the slack side (I probably could have added another ¼ cup of flour - not sure if I weighed out the full amount to begin with), and then errands ran longer than I had planned.  That and the fact that the kitchen actually warmed up beyond 67ºF perked up the dough and made it over raise just a bit.  I think I would have gotten a more round loaf with better oven spring otherwise.  I did my folding in bowl with my bench scraper and it worked great.  It's a nice dough.  Next time I may try bumping up the millet flour and cracking some whole millet down into grit sized pieces to use with the farina to see if I can get a more pronounced corn like flavor.  Right now it tastes more like cream of wheat bread, (which it is) but I think the texture is right.  Makes fabulous english muffin toast!  And it actually smells kind of like popcorn when it's toasting.

Broa - Portuguese Corn Bread
based on Jane's (Little Compton Mornings) Pao de Milho
makes one round loaf or two smaller ones

300g boiling water (~1¼ c)
7 g honey (~1 tsp)
145g white cornmeal, finely ground (~1¼ c)  I used farina (cream of wheat)
4g active dry yeast (1 tsp) I used instant yeast
120g lukewarm water (~½ c)
60g whole wheat flour (~½ c)
300g unbleached all purpose flour, as necessary (~2½ c)
15g white corn flour (~2 tbsp)  I used millet flour
10g sea salt (~1¾ tsp)
corn flour for dusting I used regular flour

1. About an hour before mixing the dough, put the cornmeal and honey into a large mixing bowl.  Pour in boiling water and stir well.  Set aside to cool until just warm.
2. When the cornmeal has cooled, pour lukewarm water into a small bowl; add yeast and whisk well.  Set aside.
3. Add the corn flour, wholewheat flour, 275g (~1¾ c) of the AP flour, and the salt to the cornmeal mixture (you'll use some or all of the remaining flour for kneading).  Stir well.  Check temp again to make sure it isn't too hot.  Stir in yeast mixture.  The dough should be pulling away from the side of the bowl.  Don't worry if it's somewhat sticky.  Don't be surprised if it's down right sloppy.
4. Kneading:  Sprinkle a little of the extra AP flour onto the board.  Plop the dough out.
5. Hand wash and dry the mixing bowl.  (Yes, this step is important.  It prepares the rising bowl, gets your hand nice and clean AND allows the dough to rest a little.)
6. Knead the dough by hand about 10 minutes.  Use your dough scraper to keep the board clean.  Add a tiny bit more of the reserved flour if the dough seems sticky but try not to add too much - the dough should be soft.
7. Proofing: As best you can, form the dough into a ball and plop it into the clean bowl (no need to oil the bowl) and cover the bowl with a plate.  Leave in a non drafty area of the kitchen for 20 minutes.
8. After 20 minutes has passed, very lightly sprinkle the work surface with flour.  Carefully turn the dough out.  If necessary, gently spread the dough out (try not to deflate it).  Using the dough scaper and still being careful not to deflate, fold the left side into the center, then the top side, right and bottom into the center.  As you lift it into the bowl, fold it in half once more.  Try to place it in the bowl smooth side up.  Cover the bowl.  Let it proof at room temp for 20 minutes more.  Repeat this step two more times.  Folds are done at 20, 40 and 60 minutes after the first kneading.  It may not be until the third time that the dough looks like the smooth, soft pillow described in books.  The amount of dusting flour used in the three folds is not more than a couple tablespoons.
9. After the final fold, cover the bowl again and let rise in a no draft place until doubled in size.  Depending on the temperature of your kitchen this can take anywhere from 1-4 hours.
10. Shaping:  Turn the dough out onto a floured board.  Gently press out into a rectangle.  Fold the left side into the center, then the top, then the right side, then the bottom.  Turn it over.  Continue to fold it underneath itself to form a tight, even ball without actually deflating the dough.  Place seam side down on a parchment covered peel or cookie sheet.  Cover with a clean tea towel and plastic and allow to rise again until just about doubled.  Another 1-4 hours.
11. Preparing the oven:  About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 400ºF with a rack in the second to top position.
12. Baking:  Spray loaf liberally with water and sprinkle with cornflour.  Slide bread onto stone if using, and bake fore 15 minutes.  Turn oven down to 375º, turn the bread around and bake another 15 minutes until bread sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. (About 200-210ºF internal temp.)
13. When the bread is done, remove to cool on a footed rack.  Wait until completely cool before cutting the bread.

Some bakers said they needed to bake it longer to finish with a nice golden color.  I accidentally preheated the oven to 500º and even though I tried to let it cool a bit, it was probably around 450º on the stone when I popped the bread in.  My loaf was done in about 29 minutes total and beautifully golden.  I also steamed the oven when I first put it in and a couple minutes later.  Great chewy crust and moist crumb in this bread.  Next time I'll make two smaller loaves and have the dough just a little less slack.  These toasted slices are great with butter and honey and would make super trenchers I'll bet.  Just check out the mouth watering smoked mackerel, olive oil, caramelized garlic, capers and herbs served on the toasted bread in the host kitchen's post!

Happy baking!
Yummy toast!

This post will go up for yeastspotting.

Update:  This bread made absobloominglutely awesome garlic crostini.  Did it under the broiler and was so seriously tasty.


  1. This is fabulous! It looks great and if you use the British definition of corn, then yours can still be labelled corn bread:

    "grain or seed of cereal plant; (collect) cereals (esp. wheat) in growth, their seed after threshing; (U.S.) maize" - The Little Oxford Dictionary

    Thank you for baking with us! (I'll email the buddy badge....)

  2. What a beautiful loaf of bread.. I can smell it from right here! You are an amazing baker :)

  3. Elizabeth - I have eaten this bread toasted, with the last four meals. Yum!

    Faith - Thanks! ☺

  4. I didn't care much for the bread as is but it made really fantastic toast, I love the garlic slice you showed!

  5. Very creative! Wow, it must be hard to avoid corn - after reading Michael Polan - it seems to be in everything!

  6. Baking Soda - We didn't actually try it untoasted! ☺ I think some breads are just meant to be toasted.

    Natashya - Yep. Corn and soy in some form are in upwards of 90% of processed foods I'd say. Maybe closer to 95%. I always write letters to commend companies that make something with real sugar. I actually just found maraschino cherries made with real sugar and natural coloring rather than high fructose corn syrup and artificial dyes. (Two things that affect my daughter in an extreme manner.)

  7. Great-looking bread and why didn't I think to toast it? I think you've chosen the best substitute for corn - truly, millet is one of my favourite flours.


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