Pan De Mej

Corn bread the Italian way

Currently Milan is under quarantine: the SARS-CoV-2 has paralyzsed the city and I do not think I will see my home town for a long time. Fortunately my parents are here in Austria and my mother has baked one of the most traditional but less known sweets from Milan: pan de mej, a hybrid between corn bread and corn cookies. I can not visit her and therefore she gave me the recipe to bring a little bit of our city to Vienna. The recipe is a winner: it is incredibly easy and it turned out delicious. Soft, not too sweet and an incredible corn flavour. Give these cookies a try, I am sure you will like them!

I will be honest with you, the real recipe calls for dryied yeast and elderflower. While I will definitely try a version with elderflower as soon as they come out in late spring, I don’t think the yeast is necessary and just overcomplicates things. Corn is, by the way, just a “modern” version from the 18th century original. The first pan de mej was recorded around 1300 and was made with a mixture of flours, one of it being millet from which the name derived: pane di miglio – pan de mej. I think it may be really interesting to try how it tastes with millet, but if you do them the first time, I would not be too experimental with the flours. Be aware that you need polenta and fine-milled corn flour. My mum also told me I should not swap the wheat flour with something else: I think you could try how it works with a gluten-free flour as well.

One small adjustment I made, was swapping a part of the sugar with erythrit to reduce the caloric load a little bit. You can go all-in with sugar only of course, just be sure to adjust the macros if you are tracking 😉 . If you use liquid sweetener or a powdererd sweetener with more sweetening power, you may need less, but you may also have to adjust the texture with milk or flour.

As I already told you, the original recipe calls for elderflowers and you should definitely add some if you have them! But I think you can also be a little experimental and try something like rosemary (Stefan‘s suggestion)., saffron or rose water. Enough said, it is time to go baking!


  • 100g Butter (soft, nearly melted)
  • 3 Eggs, already lightly whisked
  • 200g Corn flour
  • 60g Wheat flour (universal or strong bread flour)
  • 150g Polenta
  • 90g Sugar
  • 90g Erythrit
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2tsp backing powder
  • ev. some elderflowers
  • ev. some milk to adjust the texture


  1. Leave butter and egg for some time at room temperature. The butter should be very soft, nearly melted, but not hot.
  2. Preheat the oven at 180°C (200°C on our Miele oven) with the fan on.
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients: corn flour, wheat flour, polenta, sugar, erythrit, pinch of salt and baking powder.
  4. Add butter and eggs and whisk until you have a sticky dough.
  5. The texture should be sticky so that you can spoon cookies on a backing tray. The dough should hardly fall from the spoon but it shouldn’t be too firm. If it is too runny ad some flour, if it is too firm add some milk/liquid of your choice. Make only very small adjustments !
  6. Spoon the pan de mej on a baking tray: we made approximately 6cm big cookies and left enough space between them as they spread. At the end we had 15 cookies divided on two baking trays.
  7. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden. Leave them to cool for 30min on the baking tray and then transfer them on a grid for further cooling.
  8. Enjoy them plain or dusted with icing sugar. If you are really dirty you can dip them in melted chocolate or nut butter 😉 . You can store them for quite a long time in a cookie jar or even freeze them! But they won’t last long because they are too good.


This recipe makes 15 pan de mei, each having the following macros

  • 186kcal
  • Protein 3,7g
  • Carbs 25,6g
  • Fat 7,3g

I think for such a big cookie it has really good macros and if you are not deep into a diet there should be room for one or two a day since they are quite low in fat. So what are you waiting for? Try them and let us know how they turned out in the comment section below! And do not forget to hit the share button and share some of my hometown to your friends and family. Have a great week and stay strong!

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