Broa (Portuguese Corn Bread)

IMG_0504I bought Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day and The Bread Baker’s Apprentice for my birthday and have been enjoying them.  I have been using the first one so far and have been thoroughly impressed with what I have made.  My latest bread is Broa, a corn bread from Portugal that is vastly different to what North Americans think as corn bread.  It is a yeast bread with cornmeal in it.

I had it for breakfast with raspberry jam and it was wonderful.  I think it will taste great with soup or flavored cream cheese. I made a half batch but posted the recipe for a full batch.  My note on salt applies to a full batch.

Broa (Portuguese Corn Bread)

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day, p.82IMG_0503

Makes four, one pound loaves

3 cups lukewarm water

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt (I used 1 tablespoon regular table salt)

1 1/2 cups stone-ground or standard cornmeal (I used standard)

5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

cornmeal for pizza peel

Mixing Stage

  1. Mix the yeast, salt and water in a large bowl or tupperware container.  (I usually use a whisk)
  2. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon. You may need to wet your hands and mix the last bit of flour by hand.
  3. Cover, but don’t make it airtight, and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top).  Approximately two hours.  (If you make it air tight you may find that the dough spoils)
  4. The dough can be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator for up to ten days.  Remember – don’t store it in an airtight container.  The dough is easiest to handle when cold.

Baking Stage

  1. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a pound (grapefruit sized) piece.  Dust the piece of dough with flour and shape into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.  Flatten slightly and allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 4o minutes. (I have an oven/microwave with a rotating tray so I use cornmeal on parchment paper and place it directly on the tray.
  2. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven and baking stone to 450F (I have a convection oven so I bake at 200C).  Place an empty boiler tray on another rack that won’t interfere with the baking bread. (My oven is tiny so I put an individual muffin cup full of water when I preheat the oven)
  3. Just before baking, sprinkle the loaf liberally with cornmeal and slash a cross, scallop or tick-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife.  Leave the cornmeal in place for baking but tap extra off when eating.
  4. Slide the loaf directly onto the pizza peel (in my case, the tray), pour one cup of boiling water in the broiler tray and quickly close the door. Bake for about 30 minutes, until deeply browned and firm.  Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time.
  5. Allow to cool properly before slicing or eating.

Note: I paraphrased some of the directions but some are word for word from the book.

Note 2: I read in The Bread Bakers Apprentice that you should reduce baking heat when using a convection oven.  I also read that you should always allow bread to cool because the baking process is not finished as soon as the bread leaves the oven. If the bread hasn’t been cooled enough it will be on the chewy side.

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