Easy Italian Bread Bowls

As I continue my quest to have homemade breads become a staple in every kitchen, I have another easy recipe for you all: bread bowls.

There’s just something about the way a bread bowl absorbs just the right amount of soup – where you can scrape the inside with your spoon and get the perfect bite of soup and bread together. It’s just heaven.

My love of bread bowls started many, many years ago on a little road trip to San Francisco in college.  My best friend and I ended up enjoying the most amazing sourdough bread bowl meals at Boudin‘s.  I think we may have had three meals there over the course of our four days in San Fran.  It’s been virtually impossible to find its match since.

So, last week, when I was smelling the aroma of my Chicken Corn Chowder, I was taken back to our trip.  And I decided right then and there to attempt to make my own bread bowls for us to enjoy.

Now, I knew that sourdough would not be happening since it takes several days to get it going, so I searched for any easy recipe I could make in an afternoon.

The Recipe:

Italian Bread Bowls, slightly adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

(I halved her recipe since we only needed three bowls.)

3/4 T active dry yeast

1 1/4 c warm water

2 t sugar

1 t salt

1 T vegetable oil

3 – 3 1/2 c bread flour

1/2 T cornmeal

In a large bowl (or bowl of an electric mixer), dissolve yeast in warm water and sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

Add salt, oil and 2 cups flour to the yeast mixture; beat well.  Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed after each addition until a soft but not sticky dough is formed.

When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes (or let knead in an electric mixer).

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.  Punch dough down, and divide into 3-4 equal portions.  Shape each portion into a round ball.  Place loaves on lightly greased baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal (or use silpat liners or parchment paper).  If desired, slash the top surface of the bread bowl several times with a sharp knife or razor. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and baked through.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

Now, I know that some of you are intimidated by yeast.  (I promise, they’re not scary…but in case you are worried, Mel has a great tutorial on yeast that might ease some of your fears.)  The one thing I did add to the recipe is a little sugar.  For some reason, my yeast gets a lot happier if I add a touch of sugar to the recipe.  I don’t think it does much to the flavor, but it gets those little yeasties bubbling away.

Anyhow, the rest of the bread mixing/kneading was easy.  Everything was moving along smoothly until it was time to divide the dough evenly.  As I have documented many, many times, I have issues when it comes to math – not numbers math, but shape/size/volume issues.  This was no exception.

Here is my post second-rise picture:

No, the first one isn’t bigger because it’s closer to the camera.  It’s just bigger in size.  And because of the size difference, they rose differently – the two smaller ones rose much higher.  Oh, well.

No worries, though.  As long as they were big enough to hold some chowder, all was good.  And when they came out, the gorgeous color made me happy – as did that warm bread smell.

I scooped out some of the middle, added my chowder, and a tasty meal was had by all.

What I loved about these bread bowls was that the crust was hard enough to hold the thick chowder without getting soggy – while the inside was super soft and soaked the chowder right up.  The flavor was great with the chowder or with butter, as we served the middles with some butter on the side.

Again, this was just the exact-right comforting dinner we needed that day.

A home-run of a meal, as Hubs would say.

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17 thoughts on “Easy Italian Bread Bowls

  1. Kristy March 19, 2012 at 8:38 am Reply

    I’m so happy you posted this one. I’m definitely doing this for my next bread adventure. Mike will be so excited (and surprised!). :) I can’t wait. Oh this will be so much fun! (I hope!) LOL. I’ll make sure to have Miss A on hand for kneading this time for sure too.

  2. Mel March 19, 2012 at 10:29 am Reply

    Your bread bowls look amazing, Courtney! Thanks for the link back…and I love your quest – having homemade bread a staple in every kitchen. Worthy goal and I back you 100%!

  3. Choc Chip Uru March 19, 2012 at 11:14 am Reply

    Yum!!! Soup or stew in an edible crusty bowl? Yes please! Looks fabulous :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  4. Geni - Sweet and Crumby March 19, 2012 at 11:36 am Reply

    Courtney, I AM SOLD! These bread bowls AND corn chowder look to die for. I can’t wait to give them a try very soon but maybe with clam chowder. I have one allergic to chicken over here. Weird, huh? I am so impressed that you could just whip these up like it’s no big deal. You are such a bread baking superstar!

  5. sportsglutton March 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm Reply

    Yeast is a friend in the glutton household and we use it often. :-)

    Great looking bowls.

  6. ChgoJohn March 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm Reply

    Great job on the bowls! I bake a lot of bread and will definitely add this recipe to the rotation. Thanks!

  7. Just A Smidgen March 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm Reply

    I’m so glad you posted this recipe.. I was waiting for it!! (After seeing them all dressed up from the last post)… they look the perfect bowl for lots of recipes!

  8. Purely.. Kay March 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm Reply

    You know how I am about bread lol.. But it seems like everyone around me loves a good bread bowl. So this recipe definitely helps me :). Love the recipe

  9. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide March 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm Reply

    You’re really rocking and rolling on bread. These look great.

  10. Bam's Kitchen March 19, 2012 at 7:59 pm Reply

    Oh how perfect. I have a recipe for the breadbowl chicken noodle soup. We should link up our recipes with your adorable little bread bowls. Take care, BAM

    • Courtney March 20, 2012 at 12:58 pm Reply

      Oooh, what’s the link, Bam?

      • Bam's Kitchen March 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm

        We could just mention each other at the bottom of each others posts and share each others website address. Let me know what you think? BAM

  11. filingawaycupcakes March 19, 2012 at 9:02 pm Reply

    These are just adorbs!

  12. Caroline March 21, 2012 at 10:27 am Reply

    Your bread bowls are gorgeous, Courtney!! Yowza. I want to dive into a bowl of that chowder right now. The weather can’t make up it’s mind here–it’s been rainy then chilly then warm–so this soup would be perfect right now. You’re becoming quite the bread making queen! ;)

  13. samology March 21, 2012 at 11:42 am Reply

    This is my idea of a hearty meal! Can’t get any better than home made bread bowl!

  14. Lisa Nocera (@LisaNutrition) March 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm Reply

    For some reason I can’t see the pictures but they sound wonderful. I saw a pic from your previous post and the bread bowls look amazing! You are such a wonderful baker!

  15. Inger Wilkerson March 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm Reply

    The bread bowls are sooooo cute. I wonder if my kids would like soup better in a bread bowl?

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