This month, my Secret Recipe Club assignment was Paulchen's Food Blog, which was full of delicious recipes to try. Since I'd recently purchased some whole grain corn flour for another recipe, I thought I'd see if I could find some inspiration for using up the rest of the package. Indeed I did, with this delicious recipe for Portuguese corn bread. This is a yeasted corn bread, so it takes more work than the quick bread version, but it's definitely worth it. In addition to being tasty, it's also much healthier than your typical quick bread - over half the grains are whole grain, and the bread is fat free. The result is a moist loaf that's perfect for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or for serving next to a bowl of soup or chili. You can leave the top of the loaf plain or add your favorite spice blend - I used a fun citrus-fennel seasoning salt that added great flavor, but feel free to play around with different flavors here.
Portuguese Corn Bread (adapted from Paulchen's Food Blog, original recipe here)
Makes one loaf
1-1/4 cups boiling water
1 tsp honey
1-1/4 cups whole grain corn flour
1 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1-3/4 tsp fine salt
1. Combine the boiling water, honey, and whole grain corn flour in the bowl of a standing mixer. Whisk to combine, and then let sit for one hour.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yeast and lukewarm water, and let proof for about 5 minutes, until bubbly.
3. Meanwhile, add the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and salt to the corn flour mixture. Mix on low speed with the dough hook attachment to break up the corn flour mixture - the mixture will resemble coarse crumbs.
4. Once the yeast is proofed, add to the flour mixture and mix on low speed for about 5 minutes. Add more water or flour as needed to create a sticky dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom - it will appear very shaggy.
5. Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and let sit 20 minutes. Then gently fold the dough a few times (working from under the dough, fold it over itself 3-4 times). Let sit another 20 minutes, and then repeat the folding process. Let the dough sit a final 20 minutes (for a total of 60 minutes), and then fold a final time. On the final fold, pick up the dough and form into a smooth round, placing it smooth-side-up in the bowl. The dough will still be very sticky, but much more smooth than when you started.
6. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour in a warm room.
7. Shape the dough: without punching down the dough, pick it up and fold the edges under with your fingers to create a smooth, tight ball. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, seam side down. Cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
8. About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
9. Brush the loaf of bread with water, and sprinkle with salt or a spice blend if you like. Pop the bread in the oven. Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees, and then turn the oven down to 375 degrees and bake for a further 15 minutes, until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
10. Let cool before serving.