October 5, 2011

Homemade Bread Bowls

What's better than soup?  Soup in a bread bowl, of course.  But what's better than soup in a bread bowl?  Soup in a homemade bread bowl.  It seems like a challenge--like you'd have to be crazy to make your own bread bowls, but it's surprisingly simple and is a sure fire way to impress guests.

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Homemade Bread Bowls
(from this recipe on allrecipes.com)
*Yields 8 medium bread bowls or 6 large bread bowls

2 (.25 oz) packets active dry yeast (or about 4 1/2 tsp)
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp oil (I like olive oil best)
7 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp cornmeal
1 egg white
1 Tbsp water

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Let it stand until creamy, or about 10 minutes.
2. Add salt, oil, and 4 cups of flour.  Beat well.  Stir in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with each addition.  When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes).
3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume (about 40 minutes).  If you have a cold house, which is usually the case when you're making bread or soup, just switch the oven to warm for a minute, then turn it off.  Place the bowl of dough and a shallow pan of warm water into the oven, and let it rise in the warm oven.
4. Punch the dough down, and divide it into 8 equal portions (or 6, if you want larger bread bowls).  Form each portion of dough into a round loaf (basically the same as a large roll).  Make sure that you get it into a nice rounded shape.  If it's too flat, there won't be any room for soup inside it.  
5. Grease 2 cookie sheets and sprinkle them with the cornmeal.  Place dough balls onto the cookie sheets (half on each sheet), and let them rise in a warm place until doubled (about 30 minutes).  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
6. In a small bowl, beat together the egg white (or the whole egg, whatever) and 1 Tbsp water.  Lightly brush the loaves with half of the egg wash.
7. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Brush with remaining egg mixture, and bake for 10-15 minutes more (depending on whether you made small or medium-sized bowls), until the loaves are golden brown.  If you're cooking both cookie sheets at the same time, remember to switch which pan is on the top or bottom here so they cook evenly.  Cool on wire racks.
8.  Cut the top 1/2 inch off of each bread bowl, and scoop out the inside bread, leaving a wall 3/4 inch thick on all sides.  Fill it with soup, and use the scooped out bread to dip in the soup.  Delicious!

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