Pane di Mais

Gruel. An ugly word, I think. But not today—for now I understand the role of gruel in making sweet things. Gruel was at the end of today’s Search for Sugarplums, which is the awesome title of an up and coming blog I recently tapped into. Sourdoughs Unite! Gruel is a bread habit from antiquity, the kind of thing the Romans were into—boiling hard mash, corn, polenta, millet or spelt, leaving the mash to sit out overnight, and then throwing a little bit of the resulting fermented mush into flour to let rise the next day. Voila, bread. And good bread. Image

Pane di Mais

Polenta Bread

Adapted from The Village Baker

Polenta—Cornmeal Porridge

1 ½ tbsp. chopped rosemary

1 tbsp olive oil

4 cups water

¾ tsp salt

1 cup polenta or coarse cornmeal

In medium saucepan, sauté the rosemary in olive oil for a minute, and then add the water and salt and bring to a boil. Slowly add the polenta while stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook over medium heat for 35 minutes.Image

Now, for the  bread:


1 tsp yeast

¼ cup warm water

½ tsp honey

1 cup cornmeal porridge (above)

1 cup all-purpose flour

Add all these ingredients (after porridge has cooled for 10 minutes) and stir the wet batter, cover, and allow to rise for 2 to 4 hours


1 tsp salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 egg for glazing

 2 tbsp sesame seeds for topping

Sprinkle salt into starter and mix in. Slowly incorporate the flour. Knead dough on a work surface for 8 minutes until satiny. Cover and let rise for 1 hour. Divide the dough in half. Flatten both pieces and roll up into a log. Braid the two pieces into a rope and place the loaf on parchment paper.Image

Mix egg with water and glaze the top of the loaf, sprinkling with sesame seeds if desired.Image

Let rise for 45 minutes. Bake the loaf at 400 for 30-35 minutes.

5 stars, I really enjoyed the flavor of this bread. It was like a corn and rosemary challah bread. I am not a fan of things with a corn taste, breads least of all, but this had very little corn flavor. Much more rich and complex. Not sure what to do with the left over cornmeal porridge, though. Maybe I’ll feed it to Izzy. Who, by the way, had an epic day. Her favorite playmate Kristen came to call, and while I was teaching a Literature in Medicine seminar, Kristen took Izz for an outing at the park. Adorable:Image




9 thoughts on “Pane di Mais

  1. I just got a chance to read this lovely post now, and thank you so much for linking to my blog! I’m so happy that you see potential in it, and am just thrilled that there are others in this blogging world that are as into “gruels” as me haha. I love this recipe, and it makes me want to buy some cornmeal. I haven’t tried using any other grains besides wheat flour yet because I was so focused on trying to get the basics down pat, but I think it’s time to branch out!

    1. Gruels are where it’s at. I feel practically medieval when I do a porridge. All the natural yeast is so good for you, too! Let me know how this one turns out if you try it, I thought it was quite good.

    1. This was a delicious recipe from The Village Baker, a book I have come to admire very much. Your blog is wonderful by the way, comprised of all the ingredients I adore

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