Sick kids are the perfect day to cook for me. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean that I want my kiddos home sick, but when it happens I know that I will be going no where and I will have the time to try something new. When B2 fell ill with strep throat, her food request was homemade chicken noodle soup in bread bowls. Done deal! I knew just the place to refer to first, Mel's Kitchen Cafe. She has the best breads that I have found and I knew she had a couple of bread bowl recipes.
I was not disappointed. As, always Mel's recipe turned out beautifully. The bread bowls had crispy exteriors and a soft delicious crumb inside. My family loved dipping the tops into the soup and eating the bowl after their soup was gone. A perfect all in one meal!
Italian Bread Bowls
Recipe Source: Adapted From Mel's Kitchen Cafe
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
7 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 tablespoon water
In a large bowl (or bowl of an electric mixer), dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Add salt, oil and 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture; beat well. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed after each addition until a soft but not sticky dough is formed (you may not need to use all 7 cups).
When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes, or let your mixer do the work for you (this is what I prefer). Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Punch dough down, and divide into 6-8 equal portions. Shape each portion into a round ball. Place loaves on lightly greased baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, beat together egg and 1 tablespoon water; lightly brush the loaves with half of this egg wash. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Brush with remaining egg mixture, and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.
When ready to eat, cut the top off and gently remove the insides. Be careful not to remove too much or you will end up with holes and the soup will leak out. I like to toast mine for 5-10 minutes in a 425 F oven but this is optional. Fill them with your favorite soup or chili and enjoy!!
**Cook's tip-For a crust that is extra crispy on the outside, create a steam oven. You can spritz your dough with a spray bottle full of water two times during the first 15 minutes of baking or, my favorite method, you can throw a hand full of ice cubes into the bottom of your oven. As the ice melts it creates the steam.