Monday, April 26, 2010

Country Bread Bowls, Plus Some Soup!

by Darla

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:

Pros:
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

Cons:
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.

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. 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.

Once the dough has kneaded for about 10 minutes, transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise until doubled (about one hour).

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.

When the boules are doubled, they should still have two or three inches of space between one another.

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!

As difficult as it is, allow the loaves to cool completely before making them into bowls or serving them.

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.

Using your fingers, pull the center of the loaf out by reaching under it to make sure you get all of it out.

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

Ingredients

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

Ingredients

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

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sunioc April 26, 2010 at 10:18 am

I've been trying to decide what to go with the baked beans I'm making today, and I've been looking for an excuse to bust open that 50 lb bag of bread flour I just bought. This'll work out perfectly. Thanks! :)

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2 Sugarbear April 26, 2010 at 5:39 pm

50 lbs?!?! Wow! I need a big bag like that! >_<

Will you be serving the beans in the bowls or are the loaves a side item? I think they'd be pretty delicious in the bread!!

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3 Sunioc April 28, 2010 at 5:35 am

Served in the bowls. And I always buy my bread flour in 50 lb bags. They're only about $13 at costco, so it's a huge savings, and I go through it in about 3 or 4 months.

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4 bttrflybabydoll April 28, 2010 at 6:41 am

The bags of flour I buy Darla are 25 lb. bags! :)

Can't wait to try this recipe out!

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5 vdrsehn September 30, 2010 at 5:08 pm

I diced 3 slices of bacon in the large pot with the butter (mmmm!) instead of adding the cooked bacon later. I made sure the bacon was crispy before dumping in the onion and celery, though, my family HATES soft bacon. hehehe!

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6 Tree November 8, 2010 at 11:37 pm

I baked these tonight (super excited for potato leek soup tomorrow!), but mine came out much more…flat looking. They're not as poufy, so they're not as deep. Definitely going to try these again-perhaps my kitchen was too warm and the dough spread. They smell AMAZING, and the crust is gorgeous! Thanks for the recipe!
-Theresa

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7 Sugarbear November 9, 2010 at 9:22 am

@Theresa – I'm sorry your bread turned out flatter than it should have! I hate that! But a warm kitchen is a good thing when making bread, so don't change that! :)

It sounds like the dough could use a little extra kneading. If it it wasn't kneaded quite long enough, then the gluten doesn't form strong enough bonds and it won't hold together as well.

Another thing could be the yeast. I prefer instant yeast, which doesn't have to be proofed. Whereas active dry yeast does. You can also test the yeast to make sure it's still good by placing a small amount in warm water (around 90 degrees). If it blooms across the surface, it's good. If not, it's probably old (grocery stores keep yeast on the shelves where it can go bad, I keep mine refrigerated and it lasts much longer).

I hope that these tips are helpful and that you have more success next time! :)

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8 Laura November 2, 2011 at 7:35 pm

this sounds so so good. i will be adding this to my recipe list of things to try from your blog! :)

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9 Mohammed, Saudi Arabia January 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm

thanks a lot for giving me the courage and the confidenc to try this bread darla, my sister thought it is store-bought, mine was flatter and not to much deep, but they were success, yours also darker in color, i used king arthur white bread flour, i used to have soups in bread bowles in Kuwait, they serve very tasty shrimp soup on it, never thought i made it myself, i also made the potatoes soup at the same time, and i really liked it, it is very tasty and goes well with the bread, but i didn’t add sherry or bacon cause i”m vegitrian, i also don’t have the extra chicken bouillon, which i don’t know what is it, but if i’m correct it is chicken stock powder, i also don’t have celery stalk and i put celery salt to get the flavor, and the soup turns out great and very tasty, i noticed that you didn’t process the soup in the blender, so it aims to have chunks of potatoes right? cause i asked my bother if he wants it somooth but he said do as the recipe asks, belive it or not my kithchen aid mixer was broked becasue the 10 minutes kneading ha ha ha ha (no joking true). thanks a lot darla can’t wait to try another recipe of yours. greetings.

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10 Darla January 12, 2012 at 9:38 pm

I’m so happy that you enjoyed the bread! It sounds like you made everything in the soup exactly right. :) The soup does have chunks of potatoes and vegetables in it. I think it would be very tasty pureed, too, though.

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11 Mohammed, Saudi Arabia January 13, 2012 at 6:14 am

lol don’t worry i will make it again with real celery stalks, when i made the soup i didn’t have it on fridge ( i was shocked cause i thought i had two stalks available lol), I would love to send you a photo of my bread and soup if you like but i don’t know where to send it! thanks a lot Darla for this great blog and thanks for leading me to Sweetapolita blog which i really loved (another great creative person), and please post more recipes and photos along with your lovely diary cause i can’t get enough of them.

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12 Aleks October 6, 2012 at 9:04 am

Back home, in Mediterranean, we bake them in natural clay flower pots. Then you get a really nice bowl shaped bred and enough depth for the soup. The top is usually shaped that way that, when you cut it off, it looks like a lid with a handle.

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