Pan de Mej [Pani de Mie] Sweet corn buns

This past weekend I stayed at home and decided Sunday my oven was going to go into overtime.  I had the bug to be in the kitchen and do some major cooking.  And when our big baby – Rufus (the dog) started to bark at 7:00am to be let out, I took that as a sign that I needed to put on the apron and get to work.

I started by fixing some baby zucchinis (more on that at a later post) then moved over to do some potatoes that turned into a hot pocket (yeah I going to share that one too). But, after all that savory cooking I knew I needed to end the day in a sweet note. 

These sweet corn buns, or Pan de Mej fit the bill.  The only way I can explain the texture of these is that they are a cross between a cookie and a scone.  The name comes from an ancient ingredient called “miglio”, which used to be mixed with other flours and would make a type of country bread during ancient times in the norther part of Italy. Eventually it transformed itself into a sugary sweet prepared during the day of ognissanti (all saint day) in the regions of Lombardi.  They are usually prepared and then eaten by dipping them into milk or if following old traditions in clotted cream.  The ancient version was made with honey, instead of sugar - this recipe has both - Yum!

makes about 16 big buns or about 20 small ones 

  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1¼ cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup plus 2 teaspoons milk (at room temperature)
  • 3¼ cups (450 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (300 grams) semolina flour
  • 3½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon of elderflower liqueur, if you cannot find it, you can use almond extract *Tip: IKEA carries Elderflower Syrup, which can also be used.
  • About ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar

Heat oven to 375ºF. and line 2 baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.

In a small saucepan over low fire, melt the butter and honey together, remove and let it come to room temperature.

Mix the flour, semolina, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
Using the whisk attachment in your mixer, beat the butter/honey mixture with the sugar for 1 to 2 minutes at low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg, egg yolk, and 2 teaspoons milk and continue beating for 1 minute.

Add the flour mixture along with ½ cup milk and the elderflower liqueur (or extract if using) and mix at the lowest speed until blended. The dough should be stiff but not heavy. Knead briefly by hand or mixer, sprinkling with additional flour as needed, until buttery, soft, pliable, and slightly sticky.Flour your hands and divide the dough into 15-16 pieces (if you weight each one they should be about 80grs each) roll each piece into a ball, and then flatten each into a ½-inch-thick patty. Place on the paper-lined baking sheets.  Tip: they expand during baking, so make sure you give them some space (I made mine small, and so I use to baking sheets).

Brush the tops lightly with water and then sprinkle with granulated sugar, making sure a thin layer of sugar covers each bun. Place the confectioners’ sugar in a sifter or sieve and sift the sugar heavily over the buns so that they look as if they’re lost in a blizzard of sugar. The excess powdered sugar can stay on the paper because it will not caramelize.

Bake until the sugar on top has cracked into an irregular design, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and wait about 2-3 minutes and remove from baking pan to cool on racks.

Serve with a glass of milk for dipping.  Unless you find clotted cream, which will be even better.  Psst, you can be a supper gutsy cook and make your own - there is a recipe here and here to get you started.