I am making caldo verde—“green soup” for dinner and—as I was looking at various recipes—people mentioned that Broa—Portuguese corn bread—was the normal side dish for this soup. My family has developed several food avoidances. Son-in-law Chris is currently avoiding starches, as a result I eliminated the potatoes from my soup. This bread gave me a way to provide a starchy dish for those not on his diet.
Broa is a Portuguese raised corn bread—usually made with rye or wheat flour added to the mix. While the original recipe calls for baking it as a large loaf, wife Jan prefers smaller portions—a slice of a loaf is how much? But a muffin/bun is a proton.
Corn flour and corn meal are not the same thing—corn flour is ground much more finely than corn meal. The difference in texture makes a big difference depending on the use to which you plan to use it. A coen meal mush made with corn flour would turn into a thick unappealing paste. Using corn meal for a raised bread would prevent it from rising properly.
Note: Daughter Eilene bought me a standing mixer for Christmas. This is the first time I am using it.
Karl’s Broa de Milho
2 cups fine yellow corn flour
2 teaspoons salt
1½ cups boiling water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup lukewarm water, divided
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3-3½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup corn meal
1. Put the corn flour and salt in a bowl and whisk it together.
Tip: There is some debate about when to add salt to a raised dough. While salt does inhibit the formation of gluten, I prefer to add it at the beginning.
Note: I used the standing mixer’s flat beater on low.
2. Add the boiling water and mix it for a few minutes to completely moisten the flour.
3. Cover and let the mixture stand for half an hour to cool.
Tip: It is important that the temperature of this mixture is below 85º F before starting working it again, as it would kill the yeast.
4. Mix the yeast, sugar, and warm water—no hotter than 85º F—and set aside for 15 minutes.
5. Stir the yeast/water into the moistened corn flour and knead for 3 minutes.
Note: Again, I used the standing mixer’s flat beater on low.
6. Stir the AP flour a half cup at a time.
Tip: If kneading by hand—at about two cups of flour—you will need to turn the dough out onto a clean flat surface and continue working the flour into the dough.
7. Continue adding the flour until you have a soft dough.
8. Knead the dough for 5 minutes.
Note: Once I had incorporated enough flour to make a soft dough with the flat beater, I switched to the dough hook and, gradually incorporated more of the flour. You want a smooth, sticky dough that is not difficult to work with. When you get this consistency, stop adding the AP flour.
9. Put the dough in a bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and place it in a warm spot.
10. Let the dough rise for 45 minutes, until doubled in size.
11. Divide the dough into portions.
Note: The original recipe called for dividing the dough in half to make two large round loaves. I divided the dough in half, but I used half to make twelve small balls and I froze the rest for another meal.
12. Pam a standard muffin pan and sprinkle corn meal to coat the bottom and sides of each cup.
13. Place a dough ball in each cup and spritz the top with water.
Tip: You are just trying to moisten the tops, not water log them.
14. Sprinkle corn meal over the top of each ball.
15. Set the pan in a warm spot and let the dough rise for 30 minutes.
16. Preheat the oven to 400º F.
17. Put the muffin pan in the middle rack of the oven and reduce the heat to 350º F.
Note: If making large loaves leave the temperature at 400º F and bake for 40 minutes, reduce the heat to 350º F and bake for another 20 minutes.
18. Bake the breads for 25-35 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 190º F.
Tip: Rotate the pan after 15 minutes.
19. Transfer the breads to a wire rack to cool.