Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bread Baking Babes in Portugal

engels.amer vlagThis month Elizabeth takes us to Portugal with a wonderful bread made with cornmeal. The bread uses white cornmeal, which is not available here in the Netherlands (at least not where I live), so I planned to make it with yellow cornmeal. Then I discovered in the back of my pantry a box of white polente flour... way over date (ahem: "best before 14 November 2008") . That is what happens when I bring home special products... saving them for a special occasion... and forget I have it. So we tested it by eating white polenta with red cabbage and a beef mince sauce... it was very good. So I used it for this bread. I gave it a few turns in my coffeegrinder so it wouldn't be too coarse. It's a slight wet dough and I needed to bake it a bit longer than the recipe stated. A lovely fragant bread, we all loved it.

Wanna bake along?  Bake, post and send your details to Elizabeth so she can put all the Bread Baking Buddies together in a post. Have fun.

Broa - Portuguese Corn Bread
makes one round loaf
(PRINT recipe)
300gm (~1¼ US c) boiling water¹
7 gm (~1 tsp) honey
145 gm (~1¼ US c) white cornmeal, finely ground²
4 gm (1 tsp) active dry yeast
120gm (~½ US c) lukewarm water
60 gm (~½ c) whole wheat flour
300 gm (~2½ c) unbleached all-purpose flour, not necessarily all of it
15 gm (~ 2 Tbsp) white corn flour ³
10 gm (~1¾ tsp) sea salt
corn flour, for dusting

About an hour before mixing the dough, put the cornmeal (finely ground meal from dried corn, aka maize) and honey into a large mixing bowl. Pour in boiling water and stir well. Set aside to cool until just warm (do the baby bottle test on your wrist to test)

When the cornmeal has cooled, pour lukewarm water into a small bowl; add yeast and whisk well. Set aside.

Add the corn flour, wholewheat flour and 275 gm (~1¾ c) all-purpose flour to the cornmeal mixture (you'll use some or all of the remaining flour for kneading). Stir well. Check the temperature again to make sure it isn't hot. Stir in the 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.

Kneading: Sprinkle a little of the extra all-purpose flour onto the board. Plop the dough out.

Hand wash and dry the mixing bowl. (Yes, this step is important. It prepares the rising bowl, gets your hands nice and clean AND allows the dough to rest a little.)

Knead the dough until smooth and shiny by hand about 10 minutes 4. Use your dough scraper to keep the board clean . Add a tiny bit more flour if the dough seems sticky but try not to add too much – the dough should be soft (you don't have to use up all the extra half cup of all-purpose flour).

Proofing: As best you can, form the dough into a ball and plop it into the clean bowl (there is NO need to oil the bowl!!) and cover the bowl with a plate. Don't worry if the dough doesn't seem to be all that smooth. Cover the bowl and leave in a non-drafty area of the kitchen for 20 minutes.

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 disturb any bubbles). Using the dough scraper and still trying not to disturb any bubbles, fold the sloppy left side into the center, then the top into the center, then the right side, then the bottom. 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 ferment at room temperature for 20 minutes again. Repeat this step two more times. (This step is done at 20 minutes, 40 minutes, 60 minutes after the first kneading.) It may not be until the third time that the dough will look like the smooth soft pillow that is described in books. The amount of dusting flour used in those three maneuvres is not more than a couple of tablespoons in all and probably much less (I have never actually measured). It's the merest dusting.

After the final folding maneuver, cover the bowl again and let rise in a no-draft place on the counter (or in the cold oven with only the light turned on), until it has doubled in size. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, this can take anywhere from 1 to 4 hours - if your kitchen is around 21C (72F) it will take about an hour. A good way to tell if the dough has doubled is to dip your finger in cold water and poke a hole in the top of the dough. If the hole fills up, it hasn't risen enough. If there is a whoosh of air and the dough deflates a little, it has risen too much. If the hole stays in exactly the same configuration and the dough remains otherwise intact, it is ju-u-st right.

Shaping: Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Press the dough 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 an even tight ball without actually deflating the dough. Place it seam side down on parchment papered peel or cookie tray. Cover with a clean tea towel followed by any old large plastic bag and allow to the bread to rise in the same no-drafty area of the counter until is has about doubled. To test, flour your finger and press gently on the edge – it should very slowly spring back. For comparison, try pressing early on to see how it quickly springs back when the dough has not risen enough. (1 to 4 hours, depending on the temperature of the kitchen)

Preparing the oven: About fifteen minutes before baking the bread, make sure there is a rack on the second to the top shelf. Preheat the oven to 400F.

Baking: Spray the loaf liberally with water then sprinkle with cornflour. Slide the bread onto the stone if using (the parchment paper can go onto the stone) and bake the bread at 400F for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 375F and turn the bread around at the same time to allow for uneven heat in the oven (remove the parchment paper if the bread is on a stone). Bake a further 15 minutes until the bottom sounds hollow when knocked or the internal temperature is between 200F and 210F. When the bread is done, remove to cool on a footed rack. Wait until the bread is completely cool before cutting it (it's still not finished baking inside when it's hot out of the oven). 5

1.) Tap water is fine to use - just make sure that it has stood for at least 12 hours so that the chlorine has dissipated. Under no circumstances should you use water from the hot water tap. Of course, saying that it is unsafe to use water from the hot water tap might be an urban myth, but why tempt fate? Heat the water in a kettle or microwave and add cold water until it is the correct temperature, (use the baby bottle test on the back of your wrist - your fingers have no idea of temperature!) Or you can use a thermometer. The temperature should be BELOW 120F because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.

2.) and 3.) Corn meal is what is used to make polenta. Corn flour should NOT be confused with "corn starch"; it is dried corn that has been finely milled to look just like flour.

4.) Kneading slack dough by hand isn't as terrifying as it might seem. Here is a little tutorial on how I knead slack dough by hand. Of course, if you prefer to use your electric mixer, you should do that. (It can't be nearly as exhiliarating though ;-)) Unfortunately, because I do not own an electric mixer, I cannot give an idea of how long to knead.

5.) If you want warm bread If you wish to serve warm bread, reheat it after the loaf has cooled completely. To reheat UNsliced bread, turn the oven to 500F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven directly on a rack for ten minutes. If the bread happens to be is a little stale, put it into a paper bag first. Spray the bag liberally with water and place it in the hot oven until the bag is dry (about 10 minutes).

(based mostly on Pao de Milho (

Vlag nl klein Bread Baking Babes zitten deze keer in Portugal

Deze maand was Elizabeth de keuken van de maand en ze koos voor ons een maisbrood uit Portugal. Hiervoor was eigenlijk wit maismeel nodig en ik kan dat hier in de buurt niet krijgen, dus ik was van plan het met geel meel te doen. Toen vond ik onverwacht een pak witte polenta in de kast, ooit meegenomen uit Italië. Bewaard voor een speciale gelegenheid... en vergeten. De houdbaarheidsdatum was ver (heel ver) overschreden. We hebben om het te testen eerst maar polenta gegeten, met rode kool en een gehaktsaus... en het was nog prima in orde. Dus kon ik toch wit maismeel gebruiken voor dit brood. Ik heb het nog wel een even laten draaien in mijn koffiemolentje zodat het niet te grof was. Het was een aardig nat deeg en ik moest het aardig langer laten bakken dan in het recept, maar het is een lekker geurig brood (of is brood altijd geurig?) geworden.
Zin om mee te bakken? Bak, post en stuur het resultaat naar Elizabeth zodat ze een bericht kan maken waar alle Bread Baking Buddies bij elkaar komen te staan. Veel plezier.

Broa - Portugees mais brood
(1 brood)
(recept PRINTEN)
300 g kokend water
1 el honing
160 g (wit) fijn maismeel*
4 g droge gist
120 lauwwarm water
60 g volkoren tarwemeel
270-300 g sterke bloem
10 g zout
maismeel , om te bestuiven

Giet een uur voor dat je het deeg gaat maken het kokend water over het maismeel en roer het goed door. Laat het afkoelen tot lauwwarm. Roer, als het maismeel afgekoeld is, de gist door het lauwwarme water.
Voeg het volkorenmeel, het zout en een groot deel van de bloem aan het afgekoelde maismengsel toe. Roer het door en meng het gistmengsel erdoor. .Het deeg zal wat los komen van de zijkant, maar nog wel erg plakkerig. Kneed het deeg (min. 10 minuten met de hand) met genoeg extra meel om een glad en soepel deeg te krijgen. Vorm het deeg tot een bal en laat het rijzen in een ingevette kom afgedekt met plastic. Vouw het deeg na 20 minuten in drieën en leg het terug in de kom en dek af. Herhaal dit nog twee keer. Laat het dan rijzen tot ongeveer verdubbeld in volume, afhankelijk van de warmte kan dat 1 uur of langer duren.

Vorm het deeg nu tot een bal. Dek af met ingevet plastic en laat het nogmaals rijzen tot verdubbeld.

Verwarm de oven een half uur voor je gaat bakken voor op 200ºC., liefst met een ovensteen. Schuif het brood in de oven (op de steen) en bak het 15 minuten, verlaag de temperatuur naar 190ºC en bak nog 15 minuten langer. (ik heb overigens het brood langer moeten bakken, dus meet de kerntemperatuur om te weten of het brood gaar is, zo’n 95ºC). Haal uit de oven en laat helemaal afkoelen op een rooster voor je het aansnijdt.

* Maismeel is (hier) wat gebruikt wordt voor polenta. Maismeel moet je niet verwarren met maizena/mais zetmeel.
(voor het grootste deel gebaseerd op Pao de Milho (


Elizabeth said...

Excellent scoring!! Your bread looks beautiful, Lien. I'm so glad that the white polenta mixture was completely fine. (Ha. It just shows that those due dates can be taken with a grain of salt!)

Elle said...

So glad that the white polenta was still yummy Lien! Your bread is quite beautiful! Excellent crumb! Gorgeous scoring and crust!!

NKP said...

Great loaf! I love the shaping and scoring. Beautiful!

Karen Baking Soda said...

Gorgeous loaf of bread! Lovely scoring on top!

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who forgets she has ingredients! How wonderful that the long-forgotten polenta had such a lovely purpose in life after all.