I have made these bread bowls so many times and they have come out great every single time. They are so simple even an amateur baker could pull them off without difficulty. The recipe I used originally lacked flavor so I added some herbs to give it a more “Italian” taste. Honestly, how can you call them Italian if they don’t at least have oregano.
These bread bowls rise up golden and crisp on the outside, and soft on the inside; they are perfect in the winter filled with a hot chowder or hearty stew. If you don’t use them all, make sure you wrap them up tightly because fresh baked bread doesn’t have the same shelf life as store bought bread. For an even longer lasting freshness you can freeze them for up to a month.
- 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
- 2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 7 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon of water
- 1 teaspoon of desired herbs to add flavor
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Add the salt, oil and 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture; beat well. Here is where I added about a teaspoon each of garlic, basil, and oregano. I also dumped in a couple tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed after each addition. If you are using any kind of mixer (preferably a standing mixer because they are designed to take on tough tasks such as bread dough.) Make sure to use the dough hooks or the dough will creep up the beaters and into the head of the mixer and burn it out. Believe me when I tell you this because I have done it.
When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Don’t forget to take any rings off; I forget to all the time and end up with dough encrusted diamonds.
Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. I know the recipe says 40 minutes, but if you let it rise longer you will have more aerated and fluffy bread. So, yesterday I inadvertently let the dough rise for a couple of hours, and in the end it was well worth it because the bread bowls were the best I had ever made.
Punch dough down, and divide into 8 equal portions. My favorite part is punching the dough. It makes me giggle every time.
Shape each portion into a 4 inch round loaf. My secret to nice round loaves is using placing a chunk of dough in both hands and pulling over my fingers with both thumbs. This side will be the top of the loaf and will bake nice and smooth. To close the bottom pinch it closed and then roll it into a little peak to ensure it stays completely closed.
Place loaves on lightly greased baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes. Some rule applies here. If you let them rise a little bit longer your bowls will be that much better.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). In a small bowl, beat together egg white and 1 tablespoon water; lightly brush the loaves with half of this egg wash.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Brush with remaining egg mixture, and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.
To make bowls: Cut a 1/2 inch thick slice from top of each loaf; scoop out centers, leaving 3/4-inch-thick shells.
Fill bread bowls with hot soup and serve immediately.
If you make them leave a comment or send a picture.