I have other dishes in my queue to blog about, but I have been dying to share this with you (consider this post part one of two).
Every September, I seem to have an urge for fall soups even while the weather outside still looks exactly like summer. Last year, I made creamy pumpkin soup. This year, I was looking for something cheesy.
This urge happened to correspond with an urge to dye my hair red. I am aware that that makes no sense whatsoever. Anyway, I invited my sister-in-law over to color my hair and offered to make lunch for us (hubby was out of town, drilling in Albany for the weekend). Somehow, the idea of sharing food with someone inspired me to make it a little more special.
So I made bread bowls. Because that’s a totally normal response for someone who just started a new quarter of school and has tons of reading and homework to get to.
I began by dissolving some yeast in warm water. I added a bit of sugar, too, since I had read that this helps to activate the yeast.
After about 10 minutes, it was starting to look creamy.
My baking skills were better than my photography at this point, since I evidently didn’t document the addition of salt and vegetable oil. But I added salt and vegetable oil. Then I put the yeast mixture in a large mixing bowl and started adding flour. I started with a cup of whole wheat, though the recipe called for all-purpose.
I used all-purpose for the rest of it.
Then I just started beating the dough.
This was my very first time using the bread hook and electric beater to make bread. Fun times.
After the first couple cups of the flour, I added it a little bit at a time.
When the flour was all added and the dough was pulling together, I turned it out onto a floured countertop.
And then I kneaded it for 7 or 8 minutes. The dough started off goopy and inconsistent, but it got to be elastic and consistent throughout. It was very fun to play with. Apparently I didn’t take pictures of what it looked like after I kneaded it, probably because my hands were covered in dough and flour. But here’s a picture of it after I dropped it in an oiled bowl and turned it to coat the surface of the dough in oil.
Okay, pay attention. This is my favorite part. I read about a technique to make bread rise better. Remember how I put my pizza dough outside on the deck so that it would be warm enough? I couldn’t do that this time around because it was after dark. So, I put it in a cold oven next to a pot of boiling water. The steam created a good environment for it.
Are you prepared to see how much it rose? So cool. Probably would have been even more if that cloth hadn’t kept the dough in the bowl!
I divided the dough into six bowls and put them on a greased cooking sheet that had been sprinkled with corn meal.
And did my awesome rising technique again!
Okay, this time I was less pleased with the result.
I decided to remove three of the blobs and put them on another sheet. This led to a dilemma. They were flat disks at this point. If I baked them as-is, my bread bowls would be flat. But if I re-shaped them, would I lose all the benefit of having them rise again? I was afraid that manipulating them would release all the build up gas and lead to hard, dense bread.
So I ended up leaving three alone…
And reshaping the other three.
I brushed each one with a bit of egg white mixed with water.
And finally, I sprinkled them with some Italian seasoning and a bit of coarse kosher salt. Then I took a blurry picture of it.
At this point, I was both hopeful and skeptical. I was less than optimistic about how they would turn out.
Oh! But check it out! Turns out, the reshaped bowls were the awesome ones. The flatter ones stayed flat, as I thought they might. I should have reshaped all of them. An interesting experiment, though.
Seriously. So amazing.
I tried to resist them, saving them all for the next day, but I had to give in.
Fresh baked bread is simply amazing. That’s all I really have to say about that.
Stay tuned for a post about cheddar-broccoli soup!