Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tried and True Recipe: Artisan Bread Bowls

Bread bowl pictured is filled with Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Soup is exactly 252 times tastier when served in a bread bowl.  It's a scientific fact, one not to be argued with.  I love soup of all kinds and I love bread so eating them together is pretty much a no brainer, especially when you can eat the soup out of a bowl made of bread.  Sheer brilliance.

This is a great all-purpose bread bowl.  It has a great texture and mild flavor, wonderful to fill with just about any kind of soup, chili, or stew you can think of.  And considering we're headed into soup season, this is must have recipe!

The process to create these bread bowls is not at all labor intensive, but when all the rising/chilling time is considered I would recommend planning to make these up, pop them in the fridge, and then bake them off the next day.  When I made them I did do it all in one day, so it's do-able, just plan to start them in the morning if you want them the same day.  Whatever floats your boat!

Artisan Bread Bowls
Adapted from King Arthur Flour and Mel's Kitchen Cafe

yields 5-6 bread bowls

1 1/2 cups warm water 
2 teaspoons yeast
pinch of sugar
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Combine yeast with water and a pinch of sugar.  Stir and set aside to bloom.  Water/yeast mixture will be ready in a few minutes when it's nice and frothy.

Meanwhile, add remaining ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook (or just a large bowl if making by hand).  Add water/yeast mixture when it's ready.  Turn to medium-low speed and allow mixer to knead mixture for ~8 minutes, until a nice, smooth dough is formed.  (Alternatively, mix and knead by hand).  Remove dough hook, cover bowl, and set aside to rise for 45 minutes.

Punch down and divide dough into 5-6 equal pieces (depends on your size preference.  I usually make 6 bowls, but they are on the small side).  Roll each piece into a nice, round ball and place on a baking sheet that has been lightly greased, lined with parchment paper, or lined with a Silpat liner (which is what I use).  Cover entire sheet with lightly greased plastic wrap and place in refrigerator.  Refrigerate dough for a minimum of 4 hours up to a maximum of 24 hours.  This step will allow the dough to develop flavor and texture, so don't skip it!

After 4-24 hours, remove bread dough from the refrigerator.  Allow to sit, covered, at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours.  Remove plastic wrap and allow dough to sit at room temperature uncovered for and additional 30 minutes.  During this time, pre-heat oven to 425-degrees.

Just before baking, slash the top surface of the dough a few times with a sharp knife to allow for expansion while baking.  Bake 22-28 minutes until bowls are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

To serve, cut round from top at an angle and pull out some of the extra bread from the inside (save all this to dunk in that yummy soup!) to make a bowl.  Fill with your favorite soup, stew, or chili!

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