Photo by John D. Ivanko/farmsteadchef.com
When we moved to our Wisconsin farmstead, Inn Serendipity, nearly 20 years ago, we quickly embraced home cooking, partly because we didn’t have another option. Gone were the convenient Thai take-out spots or delis of our urban days, and soon began the journey of recreating those exotic and unique dishes we craved.
Nowadays, when we’re passing through a city, we’ll still savor a meal out, but the discussion over dinner often focuses on analyzing what we’re eating and plotting how we can make this at home. This is especially true at chain restaurants, where we’re unlikely to coax out a secret recipe and need to rely on our own intuition to recreate the dish. One example: Japanese Pan-Fried Noodles inspired by our favorite dish at Noodles & Company.
In the same vein, we loved the bread bowls at Panera for serving soup and took on the challenge of recreating this on the farm. These bread bowls are surprisingly easy and don’t need a second rising time. The recipe below makes eight medium-sized bowls that hold about a cup of soup, but you can easily adjust them bigger or smaller. We like to keep some in the freezer for easy single servings, especially with our new favorite winter recipe, Pumpkin Curry Soup.
But don’t stop at soup with these bread bowls. They work equally well with chili, chowder, stew, or any thick and hearty dish. Bread bowls also make fun, edible containers for condiments, like Vegan Almond Dip. For larger gatherings needing a bigger dip bowl, use the same recipe but craft two larger bowls. (You might need to bake about 5 minutes longer.)
Recipe: Homemade Bread Bowls
Yield: 8 bowls
- 4½ teaspoons active dry yeast (two 1/4-ounce packages)
- 2¼ cups warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 6 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal
In large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. (We use the bowl of our stand mixer.) Let yeast proof about 10 minutes, until it starts to bubble.
Add olive oil, sugar and salt, and mix until combined.
Slowly add flour and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.
Punch down dough and divide into eight equal balls. Place on a greased cookie sheet that has been lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Let stand in a warm place until dough has doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Gently slash the tops of the bread bowls with a sharp knife.
Bake at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.
Cut the top fourth off the bowl. Remove some of bread inside (save to eat with your soup) and fill with soup, chili, chowder, stew or dip.
Savoring the good life,