Two foods remind me of my grandfather: bread and popcorn. When I saw a recipe for Popcorn Bread in Marcy Goldman’s A Passion for Baking, I knew I had to make it as a belated birthday post. Grandpa’s birthday was July Fourth, but the nation’s birthday trumped his headline on this blog.
Growing up, I ate my fair share of meals at my grandparents’ dinner table, and what I remember most about those meals is my grandfather always ate a piece of bread and butter. I would eat a piece of bread too, but I tried to avoid the crust. As a kid, you never like to eat the crust. “It’ll put hair on your chest,” he’d say. “I don’t want hair on my chest,” I’d say back. I wondered, “doesn’t he know girls shouldn’t grow hair on their chests?” Why I attribute the popcorn to him is less clear. Maybe because he snacks on it a lot.
I got to use two fun pieces of kitchen equipment to prepare this recipe: my hot air corn popper and a dough hook. I never used a dough hook with a mixer before, just beaters, and though it looked a bit Freddy Kruegeresque, it was not at all scary to use. And pulverizing the popcorn was a lot of fun! The recipe describes the popcorn as light and airy after this step, and that is a very accurate description. The larger pieces reminded me of Styrofoam beads, and the smaller pieces reminded me of the cheap, fairly tasteless Parmesan cheese sold in the green-topped plastic cylinders.
This recipe takes some time as the bread must rise twice. When it was time to deflate the bread after the first rise, I got a bit nervous. Should I punch it or just throw it around a little bit? Fortunately, Epicurious has great tutorials that show just what to do through all the steps of bread making. I had only one loaf pan, so I made a free form loaf with the remaining dough as the recipe suggested. I brushed the top of the loaves with an egg wash before placing the loaves in the oven. Egg wash will do for the top crust what shampooing with eggs will do for your hair; make it shine!
There are few aromas as pleasurable as homemade bread. The bread itself is what I would consider a medium density, by no means light, but certainly not heavy. The popcorn lends itself more to the texture, creating a whole-grain sort of feel, than to the mild flavor. This is a great recipe for those of you who would like to try baking bread at home, or for those of you who want to do something with the popcorn leftover after a stay-at-home movie night. Enjoy!
- 5 cups popped popcorn (1/3 cup popcorn kernels)
- ¼ cup warm water
- 1 package (¼ ounce) rapid-rise yeast
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus ¼ teaspoon
- ¼ cup vegetable oil, plus 1 tablespoon
- 2 ¼ teaspoons salt, plus ¼ teaspoon
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
- Pop the popcorn kernels and pulverize in a food processor or blender once popped.
- Stir the water and yeast together in a medium bowl and let stand until dissolved, approximately two to three minutes.
- Add the sugar, oil, and salt to the water and yeast and whisk until well blended.
- Place the wet ingredients, pulverized popcorn, and 3 cups of the flour to a mixing bowl.
- Use the dough hook to knead on low speed six to eight minutes. Slowly add the 2 additional cups of flour throughout the kneading process.
- Place the dough ball into a bowl greased with one tablespoon of vegetable oil and turn to coat the dough in oil.
- Cover the dough in the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel and let sit until the dough doubles in size, approximately 60 minutes.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently work to deflate.
- Divide the dough in half, form into loaves, and place the loaves into greased and floured 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. Or, form the two halves of dough into balls and place directly onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Make an egg wash by whisking the egg, ¼ teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon sugar together in a small bowl.
- Brush each formed loaf with the egg wash.
- Loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap and again let rise 60 minutes until the dough doubles in size.
- Uncover and brush each loaf with the egg wash a second time.
- Bake at 350 degrees 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. If baking dough in a free-formed loaf rather than a loaf pan, layer a second baking sheet under the parchment lined-baking sheet holding the dough.
- When the bread comes out of the oven, brush immediately with melted butter. If using a loaf pan, allow the bread to cool in the pan 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely. A free-form loaf can cool directly on the baking sheet.