How to Make Broa, Brazilian Sweet Corn Bread Recipe

This Brazilian corn bread is almost like a bread cookie.

The dough is made with cornmeal as well as flour. It is leavened with yeast, enriched with butter, and flavoured with fennel seeds. The result is an amazingly soft little snack full of flavour and a beautiful smell that will make your neighbours jealous.

I had got used to corn breads being relatively dense, but this is totally different. For one, we will soak the cornmeal with boiling water to make it nice and soft. There are various versions of this bread out there, and I’m sure every Brazilian granny has her own version too. This is mine.

Small, soft, and sweet just like a super fluffy cookie. They would go perfect with your morning coffee. Plain or smeared with jam or just butter. It’s all good!

The dough is so wet that instead of kneading we will give it a few folds during bulk fermentation to build up a bit of strength so that it can keep its shape. The benefit to this method is that we do not need to remove the dough from the bowl until the final shaping, making this recipe extremely simple and easy.

If you are not into the aniseed flavour of fennel seeds, then you can leave them out. I quite enjoyed it. If you are going to use fennel, then crush it with a pestle and mortar or grind it in a coffee grinder.

Watch the video down below for detailed instructions.


For the dough

120g (4.25oz) strong white bread flour

120g (4.25oz) fine cornmeal

70g (2.45oz) sugar

3g (0.1oz) salt

4g (0.14oz) instant dry yeast or 4.8g (0.16oz) active dry yeast or 12g (0.42oz) fresh yeast

4g (0.14oz) fennel seeds, ground

50g (1.75oz) soft butter

1 egg, around 50g (1.75oz)

20g (0.7oz) room temperature water

120g (4.25oz) boiling water


To finish –

30g (1oz) sugar to sprinkle on top before baking


  1. In a small bowl combine the cornmeal and ground fennel seeds. Add the boiled water and mix well to hydrate all the cornmeal. Cover and leave on the side to cool down completely.
  2. In a large bowl combine the water and yeast. Leave to hydrate for a couple of minutes. Add the salt, sugar, egg. Mix well. Add the soaked cornmeal and the butter. Mix again until well combined. Add the white flour and mix until there is no dry flour left.
  3. Keep mixing vigorously for one minute. *Desired dough temperature 23 – 25C (73 – 77F). If your dough is warmer, then it will ferment more rapidly. If it is cooler, then it will take longer. Adjust proofing time accordingly. I used all ingredients at room temperature which was 23C (73F) for me. To learn more about dough temperature control click here.
  4. Cover and ferment for 30 minutes.
  5. Fold #1. Use a scraper to fold the dough 40 times.
  6. Cover and ferment for 30 minutes.
  7. Fold #2. Use a scarper to fold the dough 40 times again.
  8. Ferment for 30 minutes.
  9. Fold the dough by hand.
  10. Ferment for 30 minutes.
  11. Weigh the dough out in 50g (1.75oz) pieces, shape into rounds and place on a non-stick paper lined baking tray leaving plenty of space between them. You should end up with around 11 broa. Use wet tools and wet hands to handle and shape the dough because it is very sticky. But all this stickiness will result in the softest broa ever, so it is well worth it.
  12. Cover lightly with clingfilm and ferment for 1.5 hours or until almost doubled in volume. *During the final hour of fermentation preheat your oven to 220C (430F) fan off.
  13. Sprinkle the broa with sugar generously.
  14. Bake for 13 – 15 minutes until golden brown all over. Turn the tray around halfway through the bake to get a nice and even crust.


Enjoy whilst fresh or leave for later. They will stay soft for quite some time.

Check out some more of my Baking World Tour videos.


Keep in mind that the conditions in each kitchen are different, so fermentation times may vary for you. It is up to the baker to control the bread and react accordingly.

Your oven may be different too, so your baking time may vary.


Watch the video here

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