Both corn and rye flour are unusual in Italy (the home of delicious white breads) but this bread has both. Discovering loaves that originate from peculiar niches is one of the reasons I love this project and Leader’s book.
Pane di mais is a speciality of the Dolomites, a region of Italy in the foothills of the Alps, tucked just below Austria in the north-east. Also, wow, look at The Dolomites.
Photo by Navin Rajagopolan.
The corn flour here is finely-ground corn, not the sauce thickener, which along with rye flourishes in the area. There’s a bit of wheat flour in here too, but not enough to give it much of a lift.
My first attempt smelled deliously of sweetcorn and had a great yellow crumb and nutty texture, almost squeaking between the teeth… but it was dry and hard.
I upped the water by 10% and tried again. Pane di mais 2 was much softer to handle and it spread into a nice flat round like it was supposed to, but funnily enough it essentially tasted the same: quite a dry, gluey texture.
(Awful photo, it was taken it bad light, but wanted to show the shape.)
It’s a shame, becuase the flavour and smell is delicious and like no bread I’ve ever had. The result is not surprising, though, given it’s only 40% wheat.
I suspect it might come into its own dipped in a thick tomato stew. Must try that.
If you like a bread that will give your teeth some work, here goes. The recipe is very simple other than getting hold of corn flour, which I got from the ‘world food’ section of a really big Tesco.
2oog corn flour (finely-ground corn NOT the sauce thickener)
200g strong white bread flour
100g rye flour
1.5tsp instant yeast
350ml tepid water
1. Stir together all the ingredients and knead for about 15 minutes. It won’t get totally smooth.
2. Cover the dough, and let it sit for 1.5 – 2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
3. Cut the dough in half, and shape each half into a round. Place on floured baking parchment and sprinkle with corn flour.
4. Cover and leave to rise until doubled in size, 1 – 1.5 hours.
5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 230C for about half an hour.