I don’t know about you, but when I hear ‘bread bowl’ I’m the first in line. I mean, bread? That’s a bowl? Full of tasty soup? How can I say no? I can’t. Ever. That’s why, a couple of years ago, I decided to attempt making them myself. I have to admit, I was pretty intimidated…there’s no way this was going to be easy.
Guess what, though?! It totally was easy! Rather than scouring the food world for a bowl specific recipe, I decided to modify a recipe I already had that I love. It’s easy to make and the shape/consistency was already conducive to being used as a bowl, so I gave it a shot. I’m so glad I did…and I think you will be too!
Just so you can decide if this is something you want to make, here are the pros and cons to this recipe:
1. Soft, chewy crust
2. Dense, flavorful crumb
3. Easy to mix and shape
4. Thick crust can hold the heaviest stews or the lightest soups
5. Can be made as four small bowls or one large
1. You can’t stop eating them
2. I can’t think of anything else!
When you subtract rise/rest times, these bowls only take about 20 minutes to mix and shape, and only 15 minutes to bake. To get started you just need bread flour, warm water (between 95 and 110 degrees, but no warmer or it kills the yeast), all-purpose flour, honey, salt, and instant yeast.
Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the honey to the warm water, then pour the liquid over the dry ingredients.
Cover your bowl loosely with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes. After the dough has rested, knead it for 10 minutes until smooth and no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl. Depending on the humidity where you live, you may need extra flour. I sometimes have to use as much as an extra half cup. If you need more flour, you can use either bread or all-purpose flour.
After the dough has doubled, turn it onto a floured surface (and with floured hands, as this is a somewhat wet, sticky dough) and divide it into four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth boule. Place the boules about four to five inches apart on parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet, cover with a clean, dry towel, and allow to rise again until doubled (another hour, give or take). If you don’t have a rimless baking sheet, you can turn your rimmed sheet over and use the bottom.
Using a sharp knife, cut a line or an ‘X’ into the top of each boule. I like to bake these on top of a pizza stone to give them an even thicker bottom crust. Just carefully slide the parchment paper right off of the baking sheet and onto the hot pizza stone. If you don’t have a pizza stone, just place the whole baking sheet in the oven with the loaves still on it.
Spray the boules with water and place in an oven that has been preheated to 500 degrees. After one minute, spray the loaves with more water. Repeat this process twice more (with one minute baking time between each spray), then bake the loaves for 12 minutes (a total baking time of 15 minutes). The water is going to make the loaves have a soft, chewy crust, rather than a thick, crisp crust.
The interior of the bowls should be about 190 degrees, so bake for a few minutes longer, if necessary. You shouldn’t need more than an extra 5 minutes, but if you bake longer, lower the oven temp to 400 degrees for the remaining time. Another way to tell if the bread is done is to thump the bottom lightly with your fingers. If it gives a somewhat hollow sound, they’re done. The sound sort of reminds me of what a large bouncy ball sounds like when you bounce it. Silly, I know, but true!
These will hold about one cup of soup or stew, which doesn’t seem like much, but with the bread from the bowl to go with it, it’s quite filling. If, however, you’re up for seconds, so are the bowls! They’re sturdy enough to be used again, without any leaking or anything. Fill with your favorite soup or stew and enjoy!
Country Bread Bowls
Makes 4 Small Round Loaves or Bowls
2 cups bread flour
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons honey or sugar
Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer.
Add the honey to the warm water, then pour the liquid over the dry ingredients. Mix together until just combined (it will be wet and lumpy). Cover your bowl loosely with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.
Knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, add extra flour, as needed. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise until doubled (about one hour).
Once doubled, turn the dough onto a floured surface and used flour hands to divide it into four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth boule. Place the boules about four to five inches apart on parchment paper, cover with a clean, dry towel, and allow to rise again until doubled (another hour, give or take).
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Using a sharp knife, cut a line or an ‘X’ into the top of each boule. Spray the boules with water and bake for 1 minute. Spray the loaves with more water. Repeat this process twice more (with one minute baking time between each spray). You should spray the loaves a total of 4 times: once before putting them in the oven, and three more times after. Bake for another 12 minutes, or until the interior temperature reads 190 degrees.
Place the hot bowls on a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before serving.
To make the loaves into bowls, cut a circle just through the top crust of the loaf. Now follow the same circle again, but cut a little deeper, being careful not to cut through the bottom crust. Use your fingers to pull the center of the loaf out by reaching under it to make sure you get all of it.
Cheesy Ham and Potato Soup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3 stalks diced celery
1/2 of a small onion, finely chopped
5 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sherry
3 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons extra chicken bouillon
2 cups milk
3/4 cup diced cooked ham, or 8 slices cooked, diced bacon
1 – 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and celery, cook for 5-7 minutes. Stir in the potatoes; cook for another 5 minutes. Add the thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the flour. Increase the heat to medium high and add the sherry and stir well. Slowly add the chicken broth, stirring constantly until all of it is mixed in. Add the milk, extra bouillon, and ham. Cook for 30-45 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender. Stir in the cheese and add salt and pepper to taste.
Recipe by Darla