Broa de Milho (Portuguese Corn and Rye Bread)

Well I have to say that if you haven’t tried sourdough cornbread you’re missing out. Such wonderful flavour. And even adding in a little cornmeal to your usual sourdough breads can lend it great flavour too. Not to mention the fun of shaping Broa de Milho. I think it’s done this way as the cornmeal does compromise the structure of the bread but this shaping method is effective in gaining more structure. Whatever the case it’s not the best of risers but it makes up in taste.

P.s. if you’re in the UK don’t use cornflour. That is cornstarch! Instead use fine cornmeal or fine polenta.

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Q1 Many of the videos I watched showed an end product with the height of biscotti so from a quest for traditional standpoint, I wouldn’t worry about rise too much. The fermentation is more for flavor, digestibility and of course a bit of crumb aeration. How did you find the crumb?

Q2 More all purpose or bread flour will certainly help the rise. The dough is pretty dry so you probably don’t need to adjust water, but you can bring it down a little if you want.

Q3 your photos are lovely and they fit under the maximum size requirement, so I think all is well on that front :slight_smile:

Crumb was very closed, rather dense texture, yet still very delicious:)

It doesn’t look much different from my crumb but it’s hard to tell. I’ll put another photo below of mine.

I’d say you’ve got three options for your next batch:

More water (usually helps open crumb and speed fermentation a little)
More time
More all purpose flour

You can also do a combination of these three changes too :slight_smile:

In your photo, it appears the crumb in your loaf has more holes consistently throughout; my loaf had holes, but not as many and they were dispersed more inconsistently.

Q1) I will surely try your suggestion using a little more AP flour, altho I plan to substitute for some of the cornmeal vs just adding more AP flour. I’m thinking approx 50-75g to substitue, altho what amount do you suggest?

Q2) I will also allow longer fermentation. I now have the bread proofer set up and plugged in, so it’s ready! Please provide the optimal & doable range of times, as well as the range of ambient temp, best suited for fermentation.

Lastly, I’d like to highlight after a long wait time for this bread to hit the oven, the tail-end of the process was most enjoyable and an unexpected surprising thrill…dough-flipping-shaping in the bowl! It was truly amazing to watch this lump of wet, dense dough dusted with flour become alive and somewhat “self-correcting” into its shape and outer texture of cracks, all from its own weight and flipping motion; in moments, the outer shell became very beautiful. Melissa, thanks again very much for your advice and guidance, so helpful technically and in spirit!

Q1) Yep, my wording was off – I also meant substitute AP flour for cornmeal, not add. I usually make flour changes in the 15-20% range so I can get a satisfyingly noticeable difference lol. So 75-100g substituted in a 500g flour dough. Go with whatever you feel comfortable with, of course.

Q2) The beauty of bread is that it can be made in massively different climates. And some of the excitement of sourdough is it’s inconsistency compared with commercial yeast (measureable number of microbes in a packet). Even when we nail down the same time and temp and grams of starter in a recipe, everyone’s starter will still be a little different.
Maybe aim for imitating the temp that you did in round one, since you’re familiar with it, and just change the amount of time. Or pick something that you suspect will work with your schedule for a typical day (cooler and longer?), but do it on a day you can check on things periodically, so you don’t end up with dough-soup. Then extrapolate from those results.

You’re welcome! I’m so glad I could help. I enjoy seeing these recipes come alive in other people’s kitchens. And I agree about the shaping – what a joy. I can’t wait to try it with an einkorn or rye.

I bake a lot - mostly sourdough ryes of one ilk or another - but I also regularly make polenta bread. So when I read Breadtopia’s post about this bread, I was eager to try it. The dough was easy to pull together, and I made the bread without any problem. However, I did not like the taste at all. I did not find that the rye and corn were at all complementary. Rather, it was as if the two flavors were fighting against each other. I broke the loaves into chunks and tossed out for the birds.

Interesting bread, and I’ve enjoyed reading about initiating fermentation with very small amounts of starter. I thought to try out these ideas with my long-time used milk-based starter. It came straight from the fridge, refreshed about a week ago, and went into a mixture of 10 g starter, 10 g rye flour, 10 g water that sat for about an hour before being mixed into the dough at about 3:00 PM yesterday. After “proofing” at ~72F until 9:00 AM today, there was essentially no activity, no change in appearance, no dome, etc. So, I kneaded in 1 t of instant yeast and we’ll see what happens next. That was an hour ago and I’m seeing a bit of raise, which is hopeful.

I’ll let it go another hour or two and then shape and bake whatever comes up.

Photos and remarks to come. Thanks for all your excellent advice and recipes.

Hi Melissa,
Thanks for your reply and info. I’m still a bit lost on how to judge the length of fermentation, especially since I, and every other baker, is dealing with different variables…particularly temperature of ingreds and room/ambient temperature where the bread rests during fermentation. What characteristics determine the bread is at (that window of time for) optimal full fermentation and ready to bake?..yet well before it over-proofs? Also, wondering how did you know to set the bulk time at 6-1/2hours? Thanks again in advance for your expertise!

I’m not Melissa, but … I followed your bake and have made a similar Broa …

Melissa notes that the dough should “ferment until it’s aerated and domed (~6.5 hours in a 70F room)”. Those are the characteristics you are looking for to judge complete fermentation for this dough.

And the recipe photos show a before and at complete fermentation for her dough. The complete photo shows the aeration and dome that you are going for.

The tilde (~) means “in the range of” i.e. it is not an exact number.

Recipes for bread and particularly sourdough are more guideline than exact. As bakers, we all have to observe and make note of what things do, feel and look like, in our kitchen with our flours, liquids, temps, humidity and general stuff in the air that contributes to the fermentation process. It can be wildly variable for each of us … and even for each time we make a recipe.

And sometimes you are going to judge incorrectly. We all do :slight_smile: . My own routine, particularly with a new dough (recipe), is to look at progress photos carefully and go for the look and any feel described by the recipe author.

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@lshafer1 Bummer. I’m sorry the flavor wasn’t your thing. Lucky birds :wink:

@PLBT Definitely look at a lot of the photo galleries in the recipes on the blog here.
You will see many before and after photos of bulk fermentation and final proof. And as @easummers wrote, you’re going to have to do some trial and error. You’ll gain confidence the more you do and observe–with all of your senses, not just sight.

In fact, if you do recipes with stretching and folding, it can be hard to judge dough expansion because each round of stretching and folding de-gasses the dough a bit. So now you’re relying on the sound of the dough (crackling), the aroma, the look of the surface and, here’s the big one: past experience. Repeating the same recipe several times helps grow your experience, as does changing one variable at a time. A refined flour dough will have a different surface toward the end of the bulk (poofy bubbles and thin blisters) than a whole grain dough (fewer bubbles, maybe popped), for example.

Fortunately, the range of fermentation that produces tasty and attractive bread is pretty wide. Take this experiment for example: different length bulk fermentation and different shaping tightness. All the bread turned out well. (This experiment doesn’t test big time differences…I think good bread can come from a bigger range.)

@dvhirst865 I’m sorry to hear your dough isn’t rising.

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I went ahead and worked in 1 t instant yeast (SAF Red) and let proof for 3 more hours, got a decent rise and decided to bake it off then. Here’s the result:


They are still cooling, so will report on taste and crumb later. The first one shaped absorbed much of the surface flour by the time I got the second one ready.

A word of advice to anyone trying the “toss in the bowl” exercise – clean the bowl out and dry it between uses, otherwise, you may run into problems with the bread sticking to the bowl. That happened to me, and so it took an extra 10 minutes or so to figure out the problem and fix it. The second loaf had more flour incorporated because of this, and thus (perhaps) has better structure and rose higher. I may try baking these next time in a romertopf or other containment. So far, so good. Thanks.

Looking good! Thanks for the tip to beware of a sticky bowl.

I baked my Broa this morning. I mixed it up last night and left it to ferment overnight. I used my blue corn I mentioned before.It had that wonderful fermented smell. I made half a recipe, so my bread is quite small. I found your shaping technique very easy. It cracked nicely and the taste is scrumptious. Thanks for always getting everyone to bake a new recipe. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Looks beautiful! I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe. You’re welcome.
Seeing the different photos people are sharing, it seems to me that there should be a tradition of reading the fortunes of bakers from their cracked-crust patterns, like people do with tea leaves and coffee grounds :slight_smile:

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I agree. You can tell a lot about a person by looking at the cracks in the crust. What would you call it? Crackology? :rofl:

No matter what we name it, it will sound like something from rock climbing lol

Millet levain prepared and in the fridge till ready to use. Just bought some polenta for the cornmeal and using millet flour in place of the rye and AP. And because this is a gluten free version of broa de milho I’ll be using chia seeds soaked in the remaining water for more structure. However I think it’ll be single rise bread due to the nature of flours being used.

So all ready to go. One question though… Since I’m just going for a shape and straight into the final proofing do you think I should reduce the levain and go for a slow all night rise to be baked in the morning or proceed as normal on Sunday?

This bread skips the pre-shape and final proof also. It’s so hard to say how your starter is going to behave with different flours. If you want an overnight ferment you could use less starter or cooler water. This dough was quite warm at a 6.5 hour ferment. Going colder should stretch you to a good night’s sleep.

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Thank you Melissa.

Well I laid out a plan but had to adjust while I was making the final dough. Bought quite a coarse polenta but thought with the scald it would break down. Not so!

Added about 35g starter for 500g polenta plus 180g water in which the chia seeds had been soaking. It had turned into a thick gel. Mixed it all up but the polenta drank everything up without changing it’s wet sand like consistency. To this I added 8g salt and kneaded for longer. Then I slowly added millet flour to see if that’d form a softer dough but after 100g or so I stopped. The consistency hardly changed so after estimating it was 100g I added 2g extra salt and kneaded till everything was incorporated. With wet hands I shaped it into a lekue (silicone pouch) and now it’ll ferment over night and will be baked come morning. I’m hoping the long ferment will transform the dough into something more reminiscent of a bread dough. The long soak to absorb the water fully and the ferment I’m hoping breaks down the polenta. Now we wait and see.