Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bread Bowls

So yesterday I made chili served in bread bowls.  Let's just take a moment to pause and reflect on the beauty of soup/stew served in a bread bowl.  *SIGH*  OK, we can proceed now.

The recipe is really quite simple and the dough can be prepared in a bread machine, stand mixer, or by hand.  Now before you disregard this recipe because you don't have a bread machine or stand mixer, preparing bread my hand can be quite therapeutic.  I know this for certain, because last month while at my parents I made bread this way. 

My mom has a very basic kitchen.  Probably because I stole a lot of her kitchen items over the years, and partly because she doesn't cook the way she used to.  She is starting to replenish her basics, but I was S.O.O.L. when it came to any sort of fancy appliance, i.e. bread machine or mixer ;)

This recipe will make four medium bread bowls.  They are big enough to hold two full ladles of soup.  The bread also freezes well.  When ready to use, simply defrost at room temperature.  You can always warm up the bread in a low oven too, about 275 degrees.


1 c. plus 3 tbsp. warm water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
3 c. bread flour
2 1/2 tsp. yeast

All methods will start the same.  In a measuring cup, combine water, yeast, and sugar.  Set aside for about 10 minutes, the yeast will proof and the mixture will foam up.

For bread machine: 

Add the yeast mixture to the pan of the bread machine along with the olive oil.  Then carefully add the flour, cheese, and salt.  Set for the dough cycle.  Check after about five minutes to make the sure the dough has come together.  If the mixture appears too sticky add flour 1 tablespoon at a time.  If it is too crumbly, add water 1 teaspoon at a time.  The dough should hold the shape of a ball, and be slightly tacky.

For stand mixer:

Pour yeast mixture along with olive oil into the mixing bowl of the mixer.  Using the dough hook attachment, slowly add the flour and cheese while the mixer is on speed 2 or 3.  Then add the salt.  Allow to knead for about 10 minutes.  Check for consistency, the dough should be slightly tacky but not sticky.  Add flour or water accordingly.  See note above.  Once the dough is done kneading, place into a greased bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise for at least an hour, until it has doubled in size.

By hand:

In a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients to the yeast mixture along with the olive oil.  With your hands or a large wooden spoon, stir until the dough forms into a ball.  Then on a lightly floured board, knead the dough for 10 to 15 minutes.  (this is where you will tone those upper arms)  See note above.  Once the dough is done kneading, place into a greased bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise for at least an hour, until it has doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, gently turn in out onto a floured board.  Cut the dough in four equal pieces.

The next part takes some practice.  Hold one piece of dough in your hand, and gently tuck the ends into the bottom of the dough, creating a ball.  Pinch the bottom of the dough ball together and continue to form into a smooth ball.

underside of the dough ball, pinch and smooth it

Set dough balls on a greased baking sheet, cover with a towel and let rise another 30 minutes. ( you can also sprinkle the baking sheet with a little cornmeal to give the bottom a bit of texture)  Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  The bread will be golden brown and will sound hollow when the bottom is tapped lightly.  Allow to cool on a rack.  Slice the top off and remove the inside of the bread to create a bowl.  Serve your favorite soup or stew inside your fresh bread bowl!!

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