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Pao de Milho (Portuguese Cornbread)

"Pao-de-Milho"The Portuguese are famous for their locally made breads, which are extremely delicious. One of the joys of living in one of the more traditional regions of Portugal is that every village still has its own bakery, and you can get freshly baked bread on a daily basis. One of my favourites is the Pao de Milho, and here is the recipe to bake two medium loaves:

  • 1 ¼ cup white cornmeal
  • 1 ¼ cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 3 cups of all purpose flour
  • ½ cup corn flour (not cornstarch)

Method

Mix the cornmeal and boiling water together in a large mixing bowl until the mixture has gone smooth. Then leave it to cool for around 10 minutes.

Dissolve sugar into ½ cup of lukewarm water and add in the yeast. Leave this to stand for 10 minutes. Then rapidly stir the mixture and add it into the cornmeal mixture.

Now add in the all purpose flour, mixing as you go until it is all combined, adding in the remaining ½ of lukewarm water as it begins to thicken.

Prepare a surface with flour and knead the dough for around 10 minutes until it has an elastic feel to it and all ingredients are well combined. If the dough is too sticky, you can add a little extra flour, but only do this if required as too much flour can spoil the mix.

Get a large mixing bowl and lightly grease it, and then place the dough into the bowl and turn it a few times to coat the outside in grease. Then place a damp tea towel over the top and leave it to rise for 90 minutes. After this amount of time the dough should have doubled in bulk.

Now split the mixture in half, shape them into loaves, roll them in corn flour and place them onto a baking sheet. Cover them with a clean tea towel and leave for another 45 minutes. They should have risen once again and be ready to place into the oven.

Sprinkle a little extra flour on top of the loaves and place them into a preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes at 450F. You know they are ready when they sound hollow when tapped and they are a lovely golden brown colour.

 Enjoy!