Yes, you read that right. It’s focaccia made with popcorn! This audacious recipe comes from The Cornbread Book by Jeremy Jackson, and is easily the best focaccia I’ve ever made. It also makes an outstanding pizza crust.
First, you’ll need to make some popcorn, pick the unpopped kernels out, and turn it into flour. You can do this easily by grinding a cup or so at a time in a blender. One quarter cup of kernels will make more than enough popcorn flour. I think the tastiest popcorn for this bread is the kind popped in oil in a big, heavy pot (left unbuttered), but you can also use microwaved popcorn, just make sure it is plain and home made, like this, and not flavored, commercial stuff.
I have a unique way of making bread that I learned from another cookbook, one now out of print. It involves using a stand or hand-held electric mixer to do most of your kneading for you. If you want to make this completely by hand, you’ll want to knead it for at least 5 minutes. This is a double recipe, as I like to bake some and save some in the freezer for pizza crust. I’ve also replaced half the all-purpose flour in the original with whole wheat.
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 to 3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups popcorn flour
scant 2 teaspoons sea salt, plus extra for the tops
A 1/4-ounce packet of yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water (105-110 F)
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for the bowl
Whisk together the all-purpose flour, 2 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour, the popcorn flour and salt and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast and olive oil and beat briefly with an electric mixer. Add approximately 1/3 of the flour mixture, and beat on high for two full minutes. (Set a timer; don’t cheat). Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat on low for 2 full minutes. Stir remaining flours in by hand. If the dough is too sticky to handle, add more whole wheat flour, up to 1/2 cup.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead briefly, until ingredients come together and the dough is smooth. This should take no more than a minute or two.
Coat a medium bowl with olive oil and add the dough. Rotate dough in the bowl to coat the top. Cover and place in a warm spot in your kitchen to rise.
When the dough has doubled in volume – this might take an hour or longer – punch down the dough and divide into two. If you are freezing some, now is the time; place into a lightly oiled container. Divide remaining dough into two pieces and spread each piece into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Salt the tops, if desired. Cover and let rise again until puffy.
Preheat the oven to 450. If you have a pizza stone, use it, and allow the oven to heat the stone for about 30 minutes while dough is rising. Slide dough onto a baking sheet or directly onto the pizza stone, and bake for 10-12 minutes. Rap on the bottom of the bread with your knuckles. If it sounds hollow, it’s done.