The Fresh Loaf

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15% Toasted Popcorn Sourdough with 30% Durum

Elsie_iu's picture

15% Toasted Popcorn Sourdough with 30% Durum

A weeks ago, Tom ( introduced Farina Bona to me, which is basically flour milled from toasted but unpopped popcorn. I love his idea of alt altus so much that I thought I had to try this flavor booster as well.


Warning ahead: popcorn is extremely tough to mill. I clogged my mill several time trying to mill it. It is suggested to use other varieties of corn. I have only used popcorn since it's the only thing I have access to. This was the second time I milled it. I was working with softer grains (i.e. spelt) for the first time that I was able to grind popcorn by mixing it with spelt. However, hard grains like wheat and durum were included in this time’s formula. I had to break all the grains into smaller pieces using a blender first, then mill on the coarse setting then again on medium and lastly on the finest one so that the mill didn’t clog.


15% Toasted Popcorn Sourdough with 30% Durum


Dough flour (all freshly milled):

150g      50%       Whole White wheat flour

90g        30%       Whole durum flour

45g        15%       Whole toasted popcorn flour

15g          5%       Whole spelt flour


For leaven:

5g        1.67%       Starter

20g      6.67%       Bran sifted out from dough flour

20g      6.67%       Water


For dough:

280g     93.3%       Dough flour excluding bran for leaven

100g     33.3%       Water

180g        60%       Whey

45g          15%       Leaven

9g              3%       Vital wheat gluten

5g          1.67%      Salt



302.5g     100%       Whole grain

302.5g     100%       Total hydration


Prepare the toasted popcorn flour by toasting popcorns in a pan over low-medium heat. Do not pop them. Remove them from the pan to cool once they are browned and become aromatic.

Sift out the coarse bran from the dough flour, reserve 20g for leaven. Soak the rest (I got 24 g) in equal amount of whey taken from dough ingredients.

Combine all leaven ingredients and let sit until doubled, around 3 hours.

Roughly combine all dough ingredients except for the salt, leaven and soaked bran, autolyse for 30 minutes. Knead in the reserved ingredients than ferment for 15 minutes. Construct a set of stretch and fold then ferment for 3 hours 45 minutes longer.

Preshape the dough then let it rest for 15 minutes. Shape the dough and put in into a banneton. Retard for 11 hours.

Preheat the oven at 250°C/482°F. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it warm up for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Score and spritz the dough then bake at 250°C/482°F with steam for 15 minutes then without steam for 25 minutes more or until the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 208°F. Let cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.


The trouble of grinding popcorn is worth it in my opinion. The aroma of the resulting bread is out-standing even with the use of all the other whole grains. Popcorn also dyed the crumb into a lovely soft yellow colour which brightens my day.



It sprang pretty well in the oven with nice blistered crust. The crumb is not particularly soft thanks to the addition of durum and popcorn, which tend to weight down the dough. However, it still stays pretty moist and moderately open.

This bread is very sweet, so sweet that it kind of feels of eating popcorn :) I prefer bread with some tanginess so I’ll retard the leaven next time popcorn and durum are both used.



55% rye 45% spelt pancakes with honey mustard and dill


Last week’s over-hydrated spelt masa harina SD with fresh grapes…


Roasted cauliflower & shrimp linguine in spicy sweet potatoes sauce


I’m not kidding! Those caramelized cauliflower leaves are addictive!


Chinese curried squid…so tasty…


Steamed sticky rice in lotus leaves, Braised pork belly with chestnuts, choy sum in broth and roasted sweet potatoes


Eggplant moong dal (skinned mung bean) curry, rava upma (semolina pilaf) and spiced okra     



Danni3ll3's picture

You have some amazing dinners! Wow! Everything looks delicious although I am not sure about that squid. I do like deep fried calamari so there is a good chance I would like your version of it. Swing the whole tentacle though gives me the hibbyjibbies. 

As to your loaf, I am glad that the amount of work to mill that popcorn paid off. While I was reading your post, I wondered how you got to toast those kernels without them popping. That must have been a fine balancing act! Nice job on the loaf! It sounds delicious!

Elsie_iu's picture

Though the spices cling better to the former I personally think that the texture of the later is more appealing :) If you like fried calamari, you'd likely enjoy this dish made with calamari rings/ strips.

Let me assure you: keeping every popcorn kernel unpopped is far easier than trying to get all of them popped. The key is to remove them from heat once it smells fragrant and toasty. You can basically stop at the point where the kernels have expanded and start to joggle in the pan. 

I almost felt like I was brought to the cinema when eating this bread! Thanks for the kind words and happy baking, Danni!

Yippee's picture

The crumb tells it all.  Very creative in formulating your recipe, too.  What kind of oven do you use?  以前香港唔係咁興用焗爐, how about now? 

咁多好送, 睇到我個肚咕咕聲!

Good job, Elsie!


Elsie_iu's picture

In fact, the crumb is not as open as it could have been due to the weird performance of the white wheat berries I was using. Flour ground from them didn't form a gluten network like other wheat flour usually does. The dough wasn't properly developed that only short gluten strains could be formed...

This is the oven model I'm using. Not everyone has an oven that can fit a loaf but I think most households have a small toaster oven. Some prefer to save the space for a microwave for reheating, rather than cooking food...

I'm glad you like my creativity! Sometimes, being creative or ridiculous may just be 一線之差 :)

dabrownman's picture

besides rocks!  But there is a way around it.  Sprout the popcorn first!  When the chit then dry them in the dehydrator or oven.  It is like tempering the grain.  Break them up in a food processor and then they grind up much easier.Both the food processor and the mill will be better off plus the bread becomes a sprouted one as well:-)  The hull of the popcorn is very  tough even after sprouting and milling so getting it all in the bran levain and then retarding it is a wise thing to do.  Your bread came out great as it was though.  Even the Masa Harina and fresh grape bread is decent looking on the inside even if it collapsed in the middle a bit.

Mustard and dill sauce on those pancakes just sounds wrong no matter how good it tastes:-)  Sadly, I have been throwing away cauliflower leaves for 50 years and complaining about how I paid for them by weight - no more.  Love the squid and the rest of the steaming, sauteing, baking and chowing!  Well done all the way around and

Happy baking Elsie.

Elsie_iu's picture

For some reason, popcorn felt like a kind of processed grain (kind of like pearl barley and rolled oat) to me so not for a second had I considered sprouting it... Now I know what to do with it next time. The other semi-failed corn bread tasted fine despite its grooved appearance. Actually its texture was ultra-custardy thanks to the additional water incorporated :)

Would it sound better if I top those pancakes with a poached egg or perhaps a few slices of smoked salmon, no? Well, I'm totally ok if they aren't popular with the others since I can keep them all to myself that way :) I'm glad I posted the unimpressive-looking cauliflower leaves. You have been throwing out the most best part of the vegetable: it probably accounts for 95% of the price! This remind me of some diners at a western restaurant, who carved out the soft part of sourdough bread to eat and left the crust behind... What are kale chips when compared with them? As delicious as caramelized brussel sprouts and cabbages are, they have to give way to cauliflower leaves. Lightly spray them with oil and bake at 480°F, then season them with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. I bet everyone would be fighting over them! In contrast, the squid was heavily seasoned: freshly ground cumin, bay leaves, sichuan peppercorns and fennel, white pepper, turmeric, ginger, garlic, shaoxing wine and fermented soya paste. Fresh spices made all the difference!

Thought the cooking part was fun, the chowing might just be the best part of all! Glad you like the post!

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

Thank you for the little shout-out.  I'm glad to have inspired your explorations.  And I admire your courage:  I am very timid about substituting wheat flours with anything that will compromise crumb structure, such as durum for example.  I would never be brave enough to try as much durum and popcorn flour as you've triumphantly deployed here.  I am anxious to increase the amount of Farina bona in a future bake, so that the popcorn flavors come through more prominently.  But I guarantee you that I will not try it with 30% durum in there too!  Kudos to you for pulling that off so well!

I bought some organic yellow popcorn the other day and plan to follow the swiss protocol of popping it only until a third has popped.  Then I will grind the Old Maids in my spice grinder.  My experience with that tool is that it will powder down the corn enough to add it to the dough flour without subjecting my precious Komo to it.  It will probably require at least one round of sieving and remilling to get it all powdered.  Fun!

Your other dishes look utterly delectable. 

Buon apetito,


Elsie_iu's picture

I would probably never think of tossing milled popcorn into bread on my own. I've learnt along the way that the best bread I baked (flavour-wise) was, more often than not, built upon others' idea. I'm flattered by your compliment! Durum is not overly difficult to work with: as least it belongs to the wheat family. I too, am too timid to use over 30% gluten-free flour like millet and buckwheat. 

My spice grinder is not as powerful as yours so I doubt it'd manage the job. I'll consider using my coffee grinder instead, which I bought solely for grinding sprouted grains before owning the mill. I'll sprout the kernels first before toasting them to get the most flavour out of it. Hopefully this would make it easier for the machines.

Do try to up the amount of Farina bona in your next bake: you'll be amazed by its aroma! 

Thanks for the kind words, Tom.

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

Ha!  I realized I'd implied that durum isn't wheat after I posted that.  Same genus, different species, and very different baking behavior than Triticum aestivum.  I haven't been happy enough with almost any of the durum breads I've baked to pursue it with much enthusiasm now.  For a long time I had this idea that durum would give the bread a "golden sweetness" but the flavor was never noticeably sweeter and the crumb, though yellowish, always has a structure/texture that's significantly rougher and drier than the moist, cakey loaves of 100% bread wheat that we normally enjoy so much.  I even brought back some semola di grano duro rimacinata (fine durum) from a recent visit to Italy.  But I'm not sure when or how I'll use it.  Probably for pasta!  Obviously I need to go down to Bari (Apulia) and sample some proper Pane di Altamura from their ovens, and not the disappointing durum breads they sell in the markets in northern Italy where I've found them.

Buon appetito Elsie,


Elsie_iu's picture

Though I like the colour durum brings, I get annoyed by the kind of coarse and "heavy" texture it gives. In contrast, we're pretty much guaranteed springy and custardy crumb with mostly wheat/spelt bread. However, I do find the crumb pronouncedly sweeter when durum is included at around 20% or more of flour. The sweetness is immensely amplified whenever I sprout it. Perhaps you could consider sprouting durum? Dough with sprouted flour is always stickier, which to some extent helps to counteract the drying effect durum brings.

I wasn't aware of the culinary diversity between southern and northern Italy but it makes perfect sense that they specialize at baking different bread. We don't get to try a wide variety of Italian bread in HK. Though the most popular ones I've tasted (focaccia and ciabatta) are top-ranked on my list of favourite bread. Hopefully, I'd have the chance to visit Italy to sample an assortment of proper Italian bread.

Happy fresh pasta making, Tom.

Isand66's picture

Love your experimental breads.  Everything looks excellent.  I know they sell a certain type of corn that is better for milling than the popped corn, but I have never tried it yet.


Elsie_iu's picture

since you're an adventurous baker as well :) I wish I could get those milling corn but the chance is pretty slim...therefore I'm putting my hopes on sprouted popcorn. Sprouting does soften wheat, spelt, kamut and durum noticeably so popcorn should behave the same expectantly. 

Glad you like the bread, Ian. As for the food, I'd have to say my favourite may either be the curried squid or the caramelized cauliflower leaves. Hope to see you using freshly milled corn flour in your bread soon!