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Portuguese Corn Flour Flatbread (Bolo de Sertão)

done2I made this quick bread last night to go with my fried fish dinner and I must say, it was super easy.  It’s got a very plain simple flavor, which to me, is perfect to go with my salty vinegary topped fish!  And with three ingredients I already have on hand, it was perfect for my busy week night.  It was also pretty special to me because it brought me back to my Vavó’s kitchen.

When I asked my mother for the recipe that my Vavó would make anytime she would make fish, she explained that growing up in Portugal, this was the bread people would make when they ran out of baked corn bread.  She explained that corn bread was the standard and that wheat bread was saved on special occasions for those who could afford it.  She told me that she remembers her mother always making Bolo de Sertão on her clay flat pan.  She said she would put a little flour in the pan and cook it really slowly.  Then she would wrap it in a kitchen towel to keep it warm.  If for nothing else hearing these stories of my mother’s youth and my Vavó were worth learning this lovely little bread recipe.

Start with two cups of corn flour.  I used white corn flour.

Add in kosher salt.

Add in kosher salt.

Sift the two together using a wisk.

Now, make a well in the flour and pour in boiling hot water.

Now, make a well in the flour and pour in boiling hot water.

I mix with a wooden spoon just to cool the water a bit and then when it is ready to handle, start kneading by hand.

You want it to come together. This doesn’t take long.

It should resemble a play-doh when ready. If it’s crumbly add a tsp of boiling water at a time until incorporated and your dough looks like this. If your dough is too loose… do the same with flour.

Flour your pan... you want to use a heavy bottom skillet, clay pan, or cast iron are great... but I used my big, non-stick and it did great.

Flour your pan… you want to use a heavy bottom skillet, clay pan, or cast iron are great… but I used my big, non-stick and it did great.

Form your dough into a disk… I did mine by hand, but you could use a rolling pin if you prefer. Either way, it should be about 1/2″ thick.

Cook on medium/low heat for about 20 minutes.

Flip and cook an additional 20 minutes.

Remove from pan and serve warm… wrap in a kitchen towel until dinner if your fish isn’t ready quite yet.

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Recipe for Corn Flour Flatbread (Bolo de Sertão):

(Serves 4-8)

2 cups corn flour

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 1/2 cups boiling water

Directions:

Sift flour and salt together. Form a well in the center of the flour.  Add in boiling water.  Let sit for a minute.  Mix together and when cool enough to touch, knead with hands until it comes together like clay.  (If too dry add in one teaspoon of boiling water at a time, if too loose, add in one teaspoon of flour at a time)

Form into a disk and flour heavy bottom skillet.  Cook over medium low heat for about 20 minutes until some color is achieved on each side.  Cut into 8 pieces and serve with your favorite fired fish.

Enjoy!

*note: this is a gluten-free bread recipe.