When I was growing up, there was a huge street fair every fall. Several streets were blocked off as all sorts of vendors unfurled their awnings and displayed their wares. And of course, one entire street was dedicated to food trucks and stands. It is there that my mom took me, every year, to one truck that served Wisconsin Cheese Soup in fresh Bread Bowls. We’d take out bread bowls on their flimsy paper plates and squeeze onto a crowded bench to quickly eat the hot soup and devour the bread bowls.
It’s been many years since I’ve made it home for the street fair, but those bread bowls stick in my mind. And since I’ve discovered my love for baking, I decided it was high time I made some bread bowls.
The recipe itself isn’t all that different from other bread recipes, it’s rather the handling of the dough that makes a loaf of bread into a bread bowl. Also, the second baking to seal the inside helps create a very sturdy bread bowl.
*Measure the olive oil in a measuring spoon just before the honey, then the honey will slide right out!
*When using a stand mixer to knead dough, never go higher than speed 2 or low.
*The vital wheat gluten helps keep the whole wheat flour elastic and less dense. It is found in most grocery stores in a small box near the flour.
Whole Wheat Bread Bowls
Adapted slightly from How Sweet Eats
2 cups warm water (about 115 degrees F)
2 tbsp active dry yeast
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp vital wheat gluten
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 ½ - 2 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 egg + 1 tsp water, whisked
Place the water, yeast, olive oil, and honey into the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk the mixture lightly with a fork and let sit for 5-7 minutes or until the mixture is light and foamy.
Add in the salt, vital wheat gluten, whole wheat flour, and half of the all purpose flour. Fit the mixer with a dough hook and begin mixing on low setting 1 or 2. As the dough comes together, slowly add the remaining flour as necessary. The dough will be slightly tacky. Knead the dough in the mixer for 8-10 minutes or until the dough ball is smooth and satiny, but still a bit tacky. Remove the dough from the mixer. Knead in a bit more flour, if needed.
Spray a large bowl generously with non-stick spray. Add the dough and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and set aside in a warm, draft-free place (I use the “proof” setting on my oven) for 1 ½ hours or until the dough has at least doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Punch down the dough and cut into 4-5 equal pieces (mine were each 8 oz or so. I had 5 pieces) and form them into balls. I bring the edges of the dough together and pinch the seams at the bottom to form a nice ball.
Place the dough balls on a baking sheet, cover with the damp kitchen towel and let them rise for 20-30 minutes.
Form the dough into tighter balls, once again bringing the sides down and pinching the seams on the bottom. Brush each dough ball with the egg wash. Gently score the top of each loaf with a very sharp paring knife and place immediately into the preheated oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the bread is deeply browned (convection ovens will take closer to 30 minutes, so adjust accordingly). Allow the bread bowls to cool completely before slicing.
When ready to use, slice the tops off each bread bowl. Cut a round out of the center, leaving about ½ inch on all sides (including the bottom). If desired, brush the inside of each bowl with olive oil and bake at 350 to seal the inside of the bowl before filling with dip or soup.
Makes 4-5 bread bowls