With the fall season starting (at least in some places), I thought this would be a great recipe to share right now. Bread bowls are a great way to serve up your chili, soup, or stew and can make the meal go farther. The bread itself is plain jane - not sourdough, but the outside is nice and chewy and the inside is dense and soft.
Mine turned out a little flat after following the recipe's direction to brush the dough with an egg wash right after rising - bad idea. I'm leaving that step out. You can get 6 good-size bread bowls with this recipe (or you can make 8 smaller ones). Just don't serve them with a thin soup like chicken noodle - the bread will get soggy. Bread bowls are more for thicker soups like cream of broccoli or potato.
According to the recipe, the baked loaves can be frozen up to 1 month if you don't use them all up at once.
adapted from Italian Bread Bowls on Allrecipes.com
2 packages (.25 oz each) active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp.)
2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
up to 7 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. cold water
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes until foamy.
Add salt, oil, and 4 cups of flour to yeast mixture and beat well. Stir in more flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough comes together (you may not need all 7 cups). Knead in mixer until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, turn dough to coat, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.
Lightly grease two baking sheets with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Punch down dough and divide into 6 or 8 equal portions. Form each portion into a small, round loaf and place on prepared baking sheets, leaving enough space between each loaf for rising. Cover and let rise again until doubled in size, about 35 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake loaves for 15 minutes. Brush each loaf with egg wash and bake for an additional 10 -15 more minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.
To make bowls: using a serrated knife, cut a round out of the top of each loaf and scoop out centers, leaving 3/4-inch thick shells. Fill bowls with hot soup and serve immediately (centers can be used for dipping).