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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Portuguese Corn Bread



I love my Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book. It has turned me into a bread baker for the first time in my life. I have a lot of problems with my wrists and I just can't knead a proper loaf of bread so I was just sort of resigned to the fact that this meant I could never bake a proper loaf of bread. I have their new book with the whole grain breads too and I have not made a bread that has not turned out yet. It's such an easy, forgiving method that I truly think a trained chimp could turn out a decent looking boule so I don't get too cocky about my skills. It's basically bread making for dummies and I really should stop telling everyone I know about it because by letting them all in on my secret, I am also taking away some of my own thunder but I just can't keep something this great to myself.

I don't know how it can be that I haven't made this particular bread before, since I love Portuguese corn bread but I haven't. I didn't want to make a full batch so I halved it with great results (this has not always been the case but I think it's just a matter of my terrible math skills, not a flaw in the recipes). I didn't flatten the ball out like you are supposed to because I was making sandwiches with the first loaf and the centre was a teeny bit dense but since I toasted them panini style, it didn't affect the sandwiches.

Portuguese Corn Bread
adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day

1 1/5 cups warm water
8ml of granulated yeast
8ml kosher salt
3/4 cup cornmeal
2.5 cups of all purpose unbleached flour
cornmeal for the pizza peel and for dusting on top of the loaf

Mix the yeast and the warm water in a bowl (I make mine in my kitchen aid using the dough hook)
Add the remaining ingredients and either use a big spoon to mix, or a stand mixer like I do. I had to use my wet hands to really get all of the ingredients mixed in and end up with a nice, damp dough.

Cover loosely and let it rest out at room temperature for around 2 hours. If you aren't going to bake it that same day, put in the fridge in a container with a loose fitting lid and use it at some point over the next week to ten days.

If you use it right away, sprinkle a bit of flour on it  form a ball out of half the dough. Place it on a pizza peel or inverted cooking tray covered with cornmeal and flatten it slightly. Preheat the oven with a baking stone on the centre rack to 450F and put some sort of empty tray on the rack underneath (I use a small foil baking pan). I like to preheat it for about 20 minutes to make sure it's really, really hot.

Right before you put it in the oven, sprinkle some cornmeal on the top of the bread and slash it using a serrated bread knife. I did a tic tac toe design but you can do whatever you want.

Slide the bread onto the baking stone and quickly pour a cup of hot tap water into the baking tray on the bottom rack and close the door right away. Bake for about 30 minutes until nicely browned.

Cool on a rack before slicing if you have the patience.