Seriously, it’s embarrassingly easy.
Have you ever walked into a house and smelled fresh baking bread?
Oh my gosh, if you are nodding your head no right now than it is time to change that. Like right this very second.
If you are not one of those poor unfortunate souls than you know that it is probably one of the coziest and most comforting smells there is.
Well, I don’t know that might be a bit of a stretch. Cookies might just be a tad better, but cookies are different. Cookies are a sweet and totally different craving. Bread is savory and you get to eat it at dinner with warm soup, stews, meats – well really it can be eaten with anything. Or without anything, else that is, just toast it up with some butter.
Personally, my favorite way to consume bread is dipped into soup.
Warm creamy soup.
And I blame this one hundred percent on Panera.
Yup, Panera and their stickin’ bread bowls. I was, no am a total sucker for them. When I was younger I always had to have the bread bowls whenever the rare occasion occurred that we actually got to go out for food. And trust me, it was pretty rare. Although, if you can believe it, it is actually even more rare now.
I cannot remember the last time I actually went and got food somewhere else and I don’t even know if they have Panera’s in the west.
We did used to get pizza delivered every now and then, but ever since we moved to Colorado that has never, like not even once, happened. In fact the last time we probably got carry-out was from either Hungry Howie’s Pizza or maybe BW3’s back in Ohio. Guys, that was like seven years ago.
And I am not exaggerating.
I think it is mostly because the food choices up here are actually not the best.
Or at least they are not to my family’s particular tastes. Or my family is just pure cheap as ever and they rely on me as their personal sous chef. Yeah, pretty sure that’s it. Now that I think about it the carry-out kind of slowed down around the time I started cooking.
Totally all makes sense now.
Maybe I should start charging?
What’s the going rate these days?
Ah man, who I am kidding, that’s never going to fly. I guess I get free rent, so I got that going for me! Hallelujah!
Anyway, these bread bowls are SIMPLE.
Just mix some flour, yeast, salt, pumpkin purée, and water with a spoon. Let it sit covered overnight at room temp. Dump the dough onto a flour surface and divide into six balls (or you can make it even easier and leave it as one big loaf). Place them on a floured baking sheet and let them rise one more time for about an hour. While they rise get a big dutch oven steaming hot and then bake those bowls, cool, and fill em up with soup!
If you do not have a big dutch oven you can use a baking stone, and if you don’t have a baking stone you can use a cast iron skillet and if unfortunately you have none of those, than I’m not quite sure of the results, but don’t let that stop you. I am sure the bread would still be good just baked on a HOT baking sheet, but I am not sure it would be super crusty like the ones you see in the photos. I have found that most of time there is nothing like baking bread in cast iron. I swear it works like magic! So good. Crusty on the outside, so sot and flavorful on the inside.
These bread bowls have only the slightest hint of pumpkin, but it makes them perfect for breakfast, sandwiches and any fall soup. They’re also perfectly addicting. Just throw some butter on a fresh slice and you will not be able to stop. It’s so good.
- Add the flour, salt and yeast to a large mixing bowl. Combine the pumpkin puree with 1/2 cup of the lukewarm water. Whisk until completely combined and smooth. Add the pumpkin mixture and remaining 1 1/2 cups water to the bowl with the flour. Using a wooden spoon mix until you have a wet and sticky dough. If you have a stand mixer you may also do this with your dough hook. Mix until the flour is completely incorporated. Cover the bowl with a wet towel or plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 12-18 hours or overnight and up to two days. The dough should bubble up and rise to double its original size.
- Generously dust a work surface with flour. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and into one mound on top of the floured surface. It should be loose and sticky. Using floured hands, lift the outside edges toward the center, working around the entire piece to make a smooth round ball.
- You can leave the dough as one large bread loaf, placing it on a floured baking sheet and covering it with a tea towel. Allow to rise 1-2 hours. Or make individual bread bowls.
- To make bread bowls divide the dough into 6 equal dough balls. Smooth out into smooth balls and place a few inches apart on a floured baking sheet, covering them with a tea towel. Allow to rise 1-2 hours.
- Half an hour before the dough is done rising place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 475 degrees F. Place a 5-quart, or larger, cast iron dutch oven with a tight fitting lid in the center of the rack. You may also use a baking stone, but I have found the the dutch oven with a lid works the best.
- When the dough is ready to bake, carefully remove the hot dutch oven from the oven using oven mitts and remove the lid. To bake the big loaf: Gently slide your hands under the dough and quickly, but gently and carefully place the dough into the hot pot. Using oven mitts, place the hot lid back on the pot and return to the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the hot lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep, golden brown, about 15-30 minutes more. Remove from the oven. Using a thin handle of a spatula, carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool completely, about 2 hours. Don't slice into the bread right out of the oven, the bread continues to cook as it cools.
- To make the bread bowls: Gently slide your hands under the dough and quickly, but gently and carefully place the dough into the hot pot. Repeat with 2 more bread bowls, fitting three (or less if your dutch oven is small) inside the dutch oven. Using oven mitts, place the hot lid back on the pot and return to the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the hot lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep, golden brown, about 10-20 minutes more. Remove from the oven. Using a thin handle of a spatula, carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool completely, about 2 hours. Repeat the cooking process with the remain 3 bread bowls
- Eat for dinner, breakfast or as a soup bowl!
Thinking soup tomorrow?
Oh and the winner of the Baked Doughnuts for Everyone Cookbook is Kate M! Nice job! I sent you an email!