Homemade Italian Bread Bowls
5 cups warm water
2 Tbs instant yeast (or 2 pkgs)
2/3 cup sugar
Let sit for about 10mins until creamy. This step isn't really necessary with instant yeast, but I find that the warm water helps to mix the other ingredients better and because I buy my yeast in bulk I can make sure that it is still alive this way.
2 Tbsp salt
2/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp garlic powder
3 cups flour
Beat vigorously (you can also start this off in your mixer), gradually adding remaining flour one cup at a time until the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl. I used a total of 15 cups from start to finish.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes) adding more flour if necessary. Your dough shouldn't be so sticky that it sticks to your hands and the board, but a little soft is okay.
Place in a well-greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth, allowing to rise in a draft free place (I use my oven or I make a place in a kitchen cupboard) until doubled in bulk. Mine took about 45 minutes.
Because I live in the Caribbean it is naturally warm in my kitchen, but you could try this trick. Place the bowl of dough into your oven and place a pan of boiling water on the rack below. The steam will help the dough to rise.
Punch down dough. Divide into 12 to 14 equal pieces, depending on the size you want your bowls to be. Shape each piece into a round ball and place on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise again in oven or cupboard until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400F. Brush loaves gently with egg wash ( 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water. You can sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds, sea salt, oregano, or rosemary or any combination of the above.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden. I put mine back into the oven for 10 minutes to crisp up when we were ready to eat them. They were nice and crusty.
To make bowls, cut a half inch thick slice from top of each loaf and scoop out centers, leaving a 3/4 inch thick shell.
These bowls are great with any chowder, stew or thick soup. We had it with a yummy cheesy corn chowder. I'll share that recipe next time.
My family really enjoyed these. I hope you do too!