Bread bowls are the best bowls. It’s a win -win. I have bread and a bowl and there are fewer dishes to wash. What’s not to love? Clearly, I am not going to be starting the Keto diet any time soon. How many people in your life are doing Keto? It’s literally everywhere. Someone began to tell me what you can’t eat and I stopped them pretty quickly and asked them to tell me what they CAN eat, things went much faster then. Big props if you can stop eating carbs and fruit, seriously. I just love bread too much y’all and fruit (also known as pie).
Anyway. It’s winter time and if I am honest, it’s not all that cold in the North Carolina. But every time I turn around it’s raining, so even though there isn’t any snow on the ground it’s nice to have a nice bowl of chili or homemade soup in a bread bowl!
Before last year my bread-making was limited to cinnamon rolls and the occasional banana bread. Then I started casually following the Breddit page on Reddit. I don’t spend a whole lot of time on Reddit, but those are my people. Breadbakers who are experimenting and sharing their results and asking for feedback from people who’ve been baking for forever. That group board introduced me to Flour Water Salt Yeast (FWSY) Baking Book and a host of other things, like how to keep your sourdough starter thriving, that cinnamon star bread that was everywhere during Christmas.
The thing I love the most about bread is the precision required. You should weigh the ingredients, and consider the temperature of basically everything. If you take care to be precise, you will be rewarded with beautiful loaves of bread. Also, I love making bread because it’s a great excuse to pick up some kitchen gear. You will need a kitchen scale, a good thermometer, a dough scraper, a giant bowl, a dutch oven or pizza stone/stainless steel bowl. You will notice that my recipe doesn’t have precise measurements, so if you are curious grab a copy of that book (and no, I am not affiliated in anyway)
So let’s make some bread. This recipe which I have adapted from FWSY makes a ton of bread: two large boules or 6 reasonably sized bread bowls.
"Country White" Bread Bowls
Artisan White Bread
- 7 ¾ cups all purpose flour
- 3 ⅛ cups water 90º to 95º F
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp instant yeast
In a large bowl mix by hand the flour and water. Mix until there are no dry bits of flour. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle the salt and yeast over the dough and mix by hand. Then you perform a series of “folds” to incorporate the salt. Wet your hands so that the dough doesn’t stick. Pull a quarter of the dough up and over to the opposite side. Repeat this motion across the dough three more times, enveloping the salt and yeast. Incorporate the yeast and salt by pinching the dough from top to bottom, about 2 inches apart. Fold the dough and then repeat the pinches until you no longer feel the grains of salt/yeast and the dough has developed some tension. Measure the temperature of the dough. The ideal range is 77ºF to 78ºF. Cover and let rise five hours total.
Pull a quarter of the dough from the bottom up and over. Repeat 4 times. That is 1 fold. This dough needs 2 folds in the first 1 ½ hour of the rise.
Flour a work surface and the top of the dough, and your hands. Gently ease the dough out of the bowl without tearing. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces with a dough scraper.
Prepare a large sheet pan with parchment paper dusted with flour. To shape the bread bowl, take a piece at a time. Pull the dough closest to you over and away from you. Then fold a section of the dough from the right to the middle, the left to the right and turn the ball over. Holding your hands around the dough in a triangle shape, pull the dough closer to you in a circular motion. This will create tension in the dough and pull the seam together underneath. Repeat this motion until you have the shape you want. Place the bread bowl, seam side down on the parchment paper. Repeat with remaining dough. Dust the tops of the dough with flour and cover with plastic wrap.
Let the dough sit and proof in 70ºF room for about 1 hour. If your space is warmer than 70ºF, proof for less time. If your space is cooler than 70ºF proof for longer.
You may proof the dough in the refrigerator over night. Once the dough is shaped, place the dough covered in the refrigerator fo 12-14 hours. The next morning, let the dough sit at room temperature, about 1 hour before preheating the oven.
Preheat the oven 45 minutes before you’re ready to bake. If you are using a dutch oven place it on the bottom rack of the oven with the lid on. If you are using the pizza stone, then place it in the bottom of the oven. Set the oven to 450ºF.
Bake. Depending on the size of your dutch oven/baking stone you may be able to bake 2-4 bowls at a time. Cut the parchment paper between the mini boules. Using a lame or razor blade quickly score the bread in a pattern of your choosing. Using extreme caution, place the boules into the dutch oven or onto the pizza stone. Cover the dutch oven with the lid/ cover the pizza stone with a large stainless steel bowl. Bake covered for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the lid/bowl and bake for another 15-20 minutes.