From Handle the Heat
A few weekends ago, I found myself in another one of Wisconsin’s icy winter blasts. Winter was not yet over, and I needed soup and warm bread to cope. What else was I to do, but turn leftover roast into a thick and rich homemade beef stew. Then the desire for warm bread to accompany it became a slight obsession. I mulled over thoughts of freshly baked rolls or a loaf of soft bread to dip into the stew. But alas, none of it sounded quite right. Then I stumbled upon a recipe for bread bowls. Yes! This was what I was longing for. Sweet, fluffy, slightly yeasty bread that could lend itself to a generous pat of butter as well as soak up a hot stew. These came together easily, and were a hit with the entire family. Stew, winter, and bread. It was a satisfying weekend.
Yield: 6 bread bowls
4 1/2 teaspoons (2 packets) instant yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water (110°F)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 cups bread flour
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons fine salt
1 egg white
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer stir together the yeast, water, olive oil, and sugar. Add the bread flour and stir until combined. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and on low speed, gradually add in the all-purpose flour and then the salt. Turn speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. You can also knead by hand for 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
Gently deflate the dough and divide into 6 equal portions. Stretch each portion into a tight ball, pinching the bottom with your fingers and rolling around on the counter to seal and shape. If the ball is too loose it may deflate while baking, so be sure to make a nice tight shape. Place the balls on a greased baking sheet. Slash the top with a sharp knife to score in an X shape. Cover and let rise again until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. Place an empty broiler tray on the top shelf.
In a small bowl, beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush over the dough. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray and quickly close the door. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden. Cool completely.
Cut a large round from the top of each loaf and scoop out the center. Fill with hot creamy soup and serve immediately.