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Portuguese Cornmeal Bread

Recipe photo courtesy of Marcus Nilsson

This deceptively simple loaf is inspired by the Portuguese bread known as pao de milho or broa. Sprinkling the top of the bread with water just before baking creates steam and ensures a crisp, toothsome crust.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 2017
Total Time Prep Yield

Ingredients

Directions

Cook's Notes

A low amount of yeast allows dough to rise and develop gluten slowly, resulting in a bread with superior texture and flavor. Temperature (a faster rise when it's warmer) and altitude (a faster rise at a higher elevation) can affect how long it takes to proof. It's done when it's bubbly and has quadrupled in volume.

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  • halfnelson79079
    9 AUG, 2018
    I have not tried this recipe, yet. After reading the first few reviews I almost clicked off. Now after reading the positive I will attempt this once oven weather returns! If I tried it now, it would taste like the smoke wafting through my windows, in SOCAL. Would 90 degrees be warn enough, No A/C!!raf
    Reply
  • woodspritegarde
    27 DEC, 2017
    This is a MUCH better recipe for this bread, that is MUCH easier, requires less steps, and does NOT require 18 HOURS to get done! Sheesh! http://allrecipes.com/recipe/6917/portuguese-cornbread/ This recipe as written, uses way too much flour, too much water, doesn't proof the yeast correctly, and the rise is WAAAAAAY to long! What this is, is basically a cornmeal mash bread, a normal bread, with cornmeal mash in it. There's no need for a water bath, which wastes water and has the needed step of ice cubes, all which is discarded later. It uses to extremes, of very hot & very cold, neither of which yeast likes. Also, with the insanely long rise time, the yeasts are exhausted, or dead by then. This should take any more time to make, than regular bread, which is done, around 3 hours or less. The rise times, should be based on what the dough is doing, vs x # of hours. Most of my breads rise nicely, in an hour or less. Try this other recipe, it looks normal and right and logigal to me, while this one here is a complete mess. When I make regular bread, I use 3 cups of flour, to 1.5 cups of liquid, generally oat beverage. The yeast is activated in the water, sugar (their food), and oil/vegan butter/shortnening) I use 2 tbs of vegan butter. The water to activate the yeast, should be 110 degrees F. I use a long thermometer made for use in candy making, to determine the right temp. Bread is rather easy to make and judge when it's coming out right, after u get the hang of the making method. Also, I never knead dough on a floured surface (I hate cleaning up messes). I knead it right in the bowl! Oil hands, including your knuckles on top of your hand. press a fist into the dough, if it's sticky, sprinkle a tiny bit of flour on it, until it's not sticky, press dough as flat as possible in the bowl, with your fist. Then, turn the edges of the dough into the center, as if you were making a pin wheel, turn the bowl, as you go, once you see a "flower"/"pinwheel design, pick the dough up, flip it over, so the design is face down, then press it flat with your fist, then turn edges to the center again. Keep doing this, until the dough "cleans the bowl" all dough residue, is in the dough and not stuck to the insides of the bowl, AND the dough is not sticky (keep sprinkling tiny bits of flour to ease the stickyness), and the dough, is soft and pliable. When it's like this, ball it up, then let it rise. This seems, like a lot of effort, but it's MUCH less effort, then flouring a surface and scrunching the dough about. It's much more fun kneading in the bowl, quicker (around 5 minutes), and a LOT less messy and time consuming. Good luck with these tips! Baking, is supposed to be fun and rewarding, not frustrating and disappointing.
    Reply
    • woodspritegarde
      27 DEC, 2017
      "A low amount of yeast allows dough to rise and develop gluten slowly," - I don't believe this theory. Gluten develops in dough, (four & water) WITHOUT the presence of yeast. That is how Seitan (solidified wheat gluten), is made, with just four & water. I think the minimal amount of yeast, is one of the reason's the previous posters bread didn't rise enough. Better crumb, is formed by multiple rises, NOT the amount of yeast. But, an over rise, might lead to bread collapse, an under rise, may lead to a denser un risen bread. So I think multiple SHORT rises, is best.
    • woodspritegarde
      27 DEC, 2017
      Instead of a Dutch oven, one could just turn the risen dough out onto a cookie sheet, or pizza pan, knead it in ones hands, form into a ball, let rise, until it has a fluffy, smooth, pliable surface, spray with water, and put in the regular oven, with the rack in the MIDDLE.
    • woodspritegarde
      27 DEC, 2017
      I bake my breads on 375, for 30 minutes, or so. Oh, also, one needs to use one standard WHOLE pack of yeast! 1/4th tsp, is NOT enough by far! This cornmeal bread, may need to be pre baked at a higher temp, to crust up the top of the bread. 500 degrees, seems excessive to me. I might start at 425, then down to 375.
    • woodspritegarde
      27 DEC, 2017
      One does NOT need a Dutch oven, to make bread. One can use a regular oven.
    • woodspritegarde
      27 DEC, 2017
      Insteadof using water in the bread & to proof the yeast, try using a plant based beverage, or juice, that you like. For regular bread, I use vanilla oat beverage. For this bread, if I were to make it, I would use Original oat beverage, or apple juice, and maple syrup, as the sugar, or brown sugar, both which compliment the cornbread aspect of it. Once u get the hang of bread making, you'll be able to sub in things you like instead of the basic, flour, sugar, water aspects of it. I'm actually starting to wonder if one could substitute other types of mash, to make oatmeal bread, (add prepared instant oatmeal), or sweet potato puree, or pumpkin puree, or add milled seeds, for more nutrition, or herbs, or spices. After awhile, it becomes an art form! :)
  • bdkrukowski
    13 OCT, 2017
    I followed the recipe 100%. The dough has hardly risen. It's now been 24 hours. My yeast is fresh. My house is at 72 degrees. The cornmeal I used is the same I would use for cornbread. Should I have used cornmeal flour instead? Anyone have success with this recipe?
    Reply
    • bdkrukowski
      1 NOV, 2017
      To follow up with my earlier comments. I too was going to chuck the dough but decided to let it rise another 24 hours. I don't think it ever quadrupled but it did go bubbly. So after 2 days I baked it and it turned out great!! I've made it a 2nd time but this time I put it in a room that has it's own thermostat and turned the heat up to 80 degrees. The dough rose a bit quicker and got bubbly but never quadrupled. It doubled after about 24 hours. Maybe the "quadrupling" rule is not really necessary because the bread turned out great.
    • MS11968768
      27 OCT, 2017
      Should read “good” rise
    • MS11968768
      27 OCT, 2017
      I followed the recipe exactly and it came out great. Nice crumb, gone rise, and delicious. Not sure why yours did not rise. Perhaps the cornmeal mash was not cooled enough and killed the yeast?
    • thebooklady27
      24 OCT, 2017
      Well, unbelievably I actually got a loaf of bread...semi edible. Sigh. The dough rose only about half what the recipe stated and took about 16 hours. Almost tossed it, but decided to try a second rise. Rose not quite half again in 3 hours. Took an extra half hour to bake (the internal temp suggested was the only correct thing in the recipe as far as I'm concerned). Crust was very thick, texture was like a cellulose sponge, very heavy, and salty. Looked pretty on the top is the only good thing I can really find to stay. Going to toss it or find someone that needs a boat anchor. Soooo...if you want Portuguese cornmeal bread I'd seriously suggest finding another recipe. :)
    • thebooklady27
      23 OCT, 2017
      I just mixed the dough and don't have much hope, especially after reading your comments. I followed exactly but had to add 3/4 cup more cold water to even be able to hand mix it into a dough. Stir? Maybe the incredible hulk could manage it...maybe. It's set to rise overnight and if 1/4 tsp of yeast rises that dough it's some good stuff! I'll post results tomorrow.

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