Portuguese Peasant Bread
This dense bread is called broa in Portugal. The "secret" ingredient for its unusual flavor and texture: barley cereal for babies! The loaves are also sprayed with water during baking to help give them the characteristic crisp and chewy crust.
- about 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 2 1/2 cups stone-ground cornmeal, preferably white
- 1 package (8 ounces) barley baby cereal (about 4 1/2 cups), uncooked
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1. In small bowl, stir sugar and yeast into 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.); let stand until yeast mixture foams, about 5 minutes.
2. In large bowl, combine barley cereal, cornmeal, salt, and 4 cups flour. With wooden spoon, stir in yeast mixture and 2 1/2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.) until combined. With floured hands, shape dough into a ball in bowl.
3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place (80 to 85 degrees F.) until doubled, about 1 hour.
4. Punch down dough and turn onto well-floured surface. Knead dough until smooth, about 5 minutes, working in more flour (about 3/4 cup) as necessary while kneading.
5. Grease large cookie sheet. Cut dough in half and shape each half into a 6-inch round. Coat each round with flour; place on cookie sheet. Cover loaves with towel and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake loaves until golden brown, a total of about 35 minutes, using spray bottle to spritz loaves with water after first 5 minutes of baking, and again 10 minutes later. Cool on wire racks.