I want to start this post out by saying this bread — you don’t want to give this to the neighbors with butter and jam in a pretty basket. This bread has been engineered differently. If you’re looking for great artisan breads that you want to eat for the sake of eating, check out thefreshloaf.com. He’s a great teacher.

This bread isn’t looking to be soft and to have those big, glorious holes so utterly indicative of delicious artisan bread. It is in fact designed with the opposite idea in mind: to be kind of tough, to soak liquid, and to have NO HOLES. The holes will be very small, very even, very non-randomly distributed. Why would anyone want such a thing?

When the bread isn’t bread, it’s a piece of flatware. This bread, when you’re confident in it, can be held in one hand and can be trusted to hold, without dripping, the warmest, thinnest, and most delicious of soups.

Therefore:

1 c H20
1/2 Tbsp sugar
3 or so cups flour
1 pack yeast

You may want to get a little pot of yeast, too – when you’re first starting, you want to be able to make a lot in small batches until you get the idea. This allows you to shrink the recipe as needed when you’re still unsure of quite how the bread should feel for maximum quality.

Heat the water in your favorite glass bowl until it is comfortably warm, but not hot. Cooler than you’d like a bath, but just a hint warmer than lukewarm. Dissolve the sugar in this water and then drop the yeast in. Stir, let sit for 5 minutes. If it smells like delicious bread and is foaming a bit, your yeast is fine. If it’s not, throw out, get fresh yeast, and start over.

So your yeast is fine. Put 2 cups of flour into your water, and stir. This’ll be kinda liquidy, but starting to hit a dough-like consistency. Add 1/2 a cup of flour at a time until it’s a pretty dry dough. Start kneading. Squish, sqoosh, slam, have a grand ol’ time! It’ll get sticky again as you do this. If it takes less than 4-5 minutes to do so, add a bit more flour and keep going. You want it to be not-sticky at the end of your 4-5 minute kneading period.

When this is done, let raise until double, but no more! Do not let this bread raise for as long as it likes, or you’ll get those big holes. We’ve already done so much to fight them! (putting in too much flour, not enough sugar, no oil, no preferment)

So at the one hour mark, punch down and cut into pieces. You want pieces that are about 3/4 as big as the bowl you’d like to make. However much your dough yields, it yields — freeze what you don’t need now in bowl-sized portions! it thaws great in the freezer and bakes up spectacularly. I like to make lots and freeze so that I can have bread bowls on a busy night.

So whatever you’re using now, raise again until it’s the appropriate size, and put on a very well oiled pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until loaves sounds hollow when tapped. Hack the top out to make it bowl shaped (save that peice for dipping!) and fill with your favorite soup.

This will take practice! Practice is good. Bread is something you can do. Bread is easy, bread is cheap, it just has a learning curve. if you had tons of fun doing this, then you should definitely head over to thefreshloaf and learn to make great bread. Because trust me, those recipes come up with a darn good loaf!

Also I want to point out that this recipe, bread bowls? This is everything you should normally never do with bread! You should do a poolish or preferment, and you should knead for a long time and it should be soft and not stiff, and….etc. Take this to heart, when you come across cooking mistakes. Sometimes, you come across things that really do just deserve to be thrown out. Other times, your mistake has incredible application somewhere you never would have believed. Try to be on the lookout for things you can do with your mistakes!

Advertisements