New Years Eve was a night in with games and good food for Jeff, Peppermint and me. We made up leftover ham and wild rice into a nice, thick soup and as a special treat, I decided to serve up the soup in homemade bread bowls!!
I wasn’t sure that my normal bread recipe would work for bread bowls. It’s a bit on the sweet side and I also needed a bit of direction on the process of making the bowls.
I went with a bread that has a bit more yeast and salt, a lot less sugar and less oil than my normal bread. I also swapped vegetable oil and used olive oil instead. The result was a very tasty bread with a crispy crust that held up very well as a soup bowl.
While we loved the results, this isn’t the greatest recipe for a daily sandwich bread. The loaf of bread that I made was already getting stale by the next morning. We really loved the taste, though and will definitely be making again – just in a very planned way so we can make sure to get the bread eaten up while it’s still good!
Italian Bread (adapted from food.com)
Mix yeast, sugar, salt, hot water and olive oil in the mixer
Add flour a cup at a time until dough has formed into a ball and the sides of the mixing bowl are clear. There should be a bit of flour still left, around a cup or so.
Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until nice and elastic – around eight to ten minutes. Add flour as needed. The dough should be slightly sticky/tacky.
Place dough in well oiled bowl. I usually coat with oil and make sure the sides and all of the dough are covered with oil. Cover with a wet cloth (flour sack towels are best) and let rise until it doubles in size (30-60 minutes.) I usually turn the stove on and leave the bowl on or next to the stove so it’s nice and toasty.
Punch down the dough and knead a few times…
…To make a loaf of bread (recipe will make two loaves of bread)
Cut dough into two equal parts and knead a few more times. Flatten into a rectangular shape that’s about as long as your bread pans. Roll dough into a ‘log’ shape and pinch seam. Place in well oiled bread pan and more to next step.
…To make large ‘Panera’ sized bread bowls (recipe will make four large bread bowls)
Cut dough into four equal parts and knead a few times. Form ball of dough by taking dough from the top of the bread ball and stretching/pulling to the bottom. Stretch, tuck and turn until ball is well-formed. Pinch the seam on the bottom of the ball well to seal, then make a ‘cage’ out of your hand and ‘roll’ the dough ball. (Here’s a video that shows what I’m talking about)
Once the bread balls are formed, place onto a well oiled baking sheet that’s been lightly dusted with cornmeal. Make sure the bread balls are not touching
…To make small bread ‘cups’ (recipe will make eight small bread cups)
Cover with moistened cloth and let rise again for 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Here’s how mine looked before I stuck it in the oven.
Place in over preheated to 375 degrees. For the smaller soup ‘cups’ start checking around 15 minutes and expect to bake for 15-20 minutes. For the larger bread ‘bowls’ and loaves, start checking at 20 minutes and expect to bake 20-25 minutes.
To prepare the bowls, slice off the top one-half to one inch of the bread bowl so it has a nice, flat top. Dig out the insides (try not to gobble it… it’s so good!!), leaving a nice wall to support the soup. Fill up and serve!!