Broa (Portuguese Corn Bread)
Recipe and photo courtesy Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups stone-ground or standard cornmeal
- 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- Cornmeal for pizza peel and dusting the top
Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the yeast and salt with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not air-tight) food container.
Mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with dough hook). If you're not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.
Cover (not air-tight), and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not air-tight) container and use over the next 10 days.
On baking day, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Flatten slightly and allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 40 minutes.
Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat a baking stone to 450 degrees F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.
Just before baking, sprinkle the loaf liberally with cornmeal and slash a cross, scallop, or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife. Leave the cornmeal in place for baking; tap some of it off before eating.
Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 30 minutes, until deeply browned and firm. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time.
Allow to cool before slicing or eating.