Portuguese Corn Bread (Broa)
The outside of a loaf of this Portuguese cornbread (Broa) is dark and crusty. The inside, however, is chewy and moist, but not the least bit airy.
- Serves: 20 persons
- 1tablespoon dry yeast
- ¼cup warm water (between 90 and 112 degrees F)
- ½tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1pounds cornmeal (finely ground)
- 3to 3 1/4 cups water (boiling and divided)
- Scant 1 tablespoon salt
- 1pound all-purpose flour
Step 1Prepare the sponge: dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside for 10 minutes. Mix in the ½ tablespoon flour, cover, and set aside for 1 hour.
Step 2Place the cornflour in a large bowl. Dissolve the salt in 2 ½ cups of the boiling water. Pour the salted water over the cornflour and, stirring quickly, mix them thoroughly; make sure all flour is moistened. It should look like lumpy mashed potatoes. Set aside until it is cool enough to handle, about 15 or 20 minutes.
Step 3When the cornflour has cooled, gradually mix in the all-purpose flour, the yeast sponge, and an additional ¼ cup of the remaining water, which should be just tepid at this point. Mix until the dough comes together. If the dough seems a little dry, mix in more of the remaining water to make the dough more pliable. Use as little of the water as you can. Knead the dough in the bowl for about 10 minutes. It will feel sticky. Dust the dough with flour and cover it with a clean dishtowel. Set it aside in a warm, draft-free spot to rise until double, about 2 ½ hours.
Step 4Preheat the oven to 500 F.
Step 5When the dough has doubled, do not punch down. Divide it into 2 pieces carefully, without deflating the dough.
Step 6Swirl some water in another bowl, pour it out, and sprinkle some flour in the bowl to stick to the sides. Place one piece of the dough in the bowl and roll it around to shape it into a rough ball. Invert the bowl over a round cake pan or metal pie plate. Repeat with the other piece.
Step 7Place the pans no the middle rack of the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The bottom should sound hollow when tapped and the outside of the loaf a golden brown color. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before cutting.