Edward Lee’s Popcorn Bread

By • December 16, 2017 19 Comments

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Author Notes: This is a variation of cornbread that is light and nutty and nostalgic. I was eating a bag of popcorn at a local farmers market here in DC and I realized how much I like the little granules that end up in the bottom of the bag. They are tiny and salty and crunchy and remind me of eating popcorn in movie theaters when I was a kid. I got the idea to grind the popcorn into a course meal and use that as a base to make a loaf of bread instead of cornmeal. It makes a crumbly bread that feels like cornbread but it is lighter and fluffier on the inside. To make the movie theater memory more pronounced, I actually brush the tops of the bread with movie theater butter—that fake stuff that every movie theater uses on popcorn—it has that unmistakable artificial butter smell that actually makes me nostalgic.

When making this bread, don’t overwork the mixture. It should just come together in your hands. Also, it is important to use an organic popping corn. They taste a lot better than commercial popcorn. Eat and serve right away. It is best when warm. If it cools down just reheat in a low oven for 5 minutes or you can pop it in the microwave for 40 seconds.

Excerpted from Buttermilk Graffiti by Edward Lee (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2018.
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Serves 6 to 8

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 3/4 tablespoon dry yeast
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 2 cups popped popcorn
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons artificial movie theater butter
  1. Combine water and milk in a small pot. Heat gently to 112°F. Transfer the liquid to a small bowl and stir in the yeast and sugar. Let the yeast activate for about 10 minutes.
  2. Run popcorn through a blender or food processor until it is the consistency of cornmeal. Reserve about 4 tablespoons. Transfer the rest to a large bowl.
  3. Add the yeast mixture to the ground popcorn and salt. Next, add the eggs and cooled melted butter. While stirring with a rubber spatula, fold in the flour a little at a time. Knead the dough by hand for 5 minutes. Transfer to a clean bowl that has been lightly greased. Cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
  4. Check the dough, punch it down and let it rise once more.
  5. Put dough out onto a work surface. Separate into 2 equal pieces. Roll into shape and place in greased bread pans. Let rise again until doubled in size.
  6. Brush the top with movie theater butter and sprinkle some of the reserved ground popcorn.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes or until loaves are golden brown. Slice into thin slices.

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