Going back to talking about food: cornmeal bread.


At last, here I come with a recipe, people.
On Sundays in which it's possible, I like to tidy up my place, bake fresh bread and wash salad.
Talk about this Sunday then, considering tomorrow I'll receive a very special visit - a friend I haven't seen in some 5 years. And on Wednesday my mother will come to visit too.
I have prepared cornmeal rolls before, with a recipe from wild yeast, but this one is different because it's a loaf. And because I adapted it from Dona Benta.
Truth be told, I adapted it quite a bit. But considering Dona Benta's loaf was the spark to bake the bread, I'll have it written down in the end of the post.
Here goes my version, the one which generated the bread seen in the pictures:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup fine cornmeal
1/4 yellow cornmeal* (now, beware: this is another kind of cornmeal, which I think is very difficult to find out of Brazil. It seems like a dry corn flour. I tried to find something similar on the internet, but haven't succeeded. Perhaps tortilla flour? Nevermind, though. I only used it because I ran out of fine cornmeal - fubá - and I thought I needed some more...)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons canola oil (using any other culinary oil is fine, could also be butter)
(Cup measure: 240ml)

I put the water in a small saucepan over medium heat to warm it up, meanwhile I measured the flour and cornmeals into a bowl. In another bowl I put the yeast and sugar.
When the water started to get warm, in a temperature my hand could easily stand, I turned off the heat and slowly poured the water into the yeast. I added about 1/4 of the flour mixture and stirred with a wooden spoon.
I let it sit for 5 minutes so that it would start to proof (form tiny bubbles), covering the bowl with a tea towel. Then I added the remaining flour, salt and oil, gently beating the dough with a wooden spoon until smooth (or as close as it got to smooth, since the bijú didn't dissolve totally). 
The dough is very liquidy, seeming more like cake batter than bread dough. Don't be scared, it's supposed to be like that.
I let it sit for 15 minutes in the bowl covered with a tea towel, then transferred it to a greased loaf pan sprinkled with cornmeal.
The batter/ dough is so gooey that there is no chance of slashing it's top, so the bread ends up tearing naturally while baking. To decorate the bread's crust, I smeared bijú on the surface of the batter/ dough.
I turned on the oven at medium temperature (180oC) to preheat, covered the loaf pan with the tea towel and let the bread rest for another 15 minutes.
Then I put the bread to bake for 40 or 45 minutes at medium temperature, then rised it to high (230oC) and baked for 8 minutes more.
The reason for this variation in temperature is that the bread gets to rise and form a dome in the lower temperature, while it starts to bake inside. With the higher temperature, the crust will become darker and firmer, meaning it will get crunchy.
When the whole place was smelling like fresh bread, and the crusted looked good to my eyes, I took the bread out of the oven and let it cool down for 10 minutes inside the pan over a rack.
Helping with a knife I loosened the bread's laterals before taking it out of the pan, letting it sit over the cooling rack until completely cool.

For my surprise, this bread does not crumble so easily, so it's good to make simple sandwiches and eating with butter at breakfast.
Yields one small loaf.

Now Dona Benta's version ("Pão de milho" page 844 in Comer Bem):
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup fine cornmeal
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
1 egg

1. Grease a loaf pan with oil or butter. Melt the butter over low heat and set aside.
2. Mix together in a bowl: flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt.
3. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, egg and butter. Pour the liquid over the dry mixture and stirr well.
4. Bake the bread for 10 minutes in high temperature. Lower it to medium and bake for 15 minutes more. Test if the bread is done inserting a wooden pick in the center of it. If the pick comes out clean, the bread is done.

* Apparently, it is common sense that "bijú" or "beiju" refers to a certain cassava flour, not corn flour.
In my house, this one has always been called bijú as well... Anyway, to be crystal clear: the one I have used in this bread is sold by the brand yoki as "farinha amarela de milho". It can be found in any grocery store anywhere in Brazil, I suppose.

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