These homemade bread bowls are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. This basic bread dough can be made with familiar ingredients. This recipe makes 6 loaves, but can also be used to make pizza crusts or smaller dinner rolls.
Put on your apron, firm up your resolve and warm up your cream soup. Let’s get started on making homemade bread bowls.
Ingredients needed for bread bowls
- Yeast. Use dry yeast to make the bread dough – a high quality yeast such as Red Star yeast is highly recommended – this brand always makes the best bread!
- Water: 2.4 cups is the right amount. Water should be around 110-115 degrees F. Use warm water to reduce fermentation time; above 130 degrees F, the yeast will die.
- Sugar: 2 teaspoons of sugar feeds the yeast and creates carbon dioxide bubbles that expand the dough.
- Salt + olive oil. Salt and olive oil add flavor and richness.
- Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs are high in protein and help form a chewier, more bread-like loaf. (This is a technical term.) We want our bread bowls to be firm and crusty, and the crumbs help achieve that.
If you’re new to bread, don’t stress about yeast. It’s just one of the ingredients you add to the dough. It doesn’t do anything special. Just mix it with water. When your hands are still, the magic happens.
Overview How to make a bread bowl
Making bread may seem impossible, but think of it this way: bread is one of the most basic foods. All you have to do is mix the simple ingredients, let them work their magic, shape them and bake them. This process is 100% within your reach.
- Mix the dough ingredients together. You can use a mixer or do it by hand. The dough should be thick, yet soft and just slightly sticky.
- Shape the dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, pinch the dough into a ball and place it in a large greased bowl.
- Let the dough rise. Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
- Break up the dough. Place the dough on a lightly floured table.
- Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Shape each one into a ball. Arrange 3 pieces of dough on the prepared baking sheet.
- Arrange 3 pieces of dough on each sheet, making an X-shaped cut. Brush the top of the dough with a thin layer of egg wash and use a knife to make an X on the top of the dough. The egg wash will give it a shiny appearance. This X makes it easy to tear off if the bread is not eaten as a bread bowl. Ease of unraveling is important to bread lovers.
- Baking. This bread bowl will take about 30 minutes to bake.
- Cut off the top. When cool enough to handle, cut a large circle off the top of each bread bowl. Scoop out the middle (save the middle for dipping into the soup!) . ) and fill with soup.
This is the basic bread dough
The bread dough you are going to make is a very basic bread dough. It’s simple, healthy and versatile because it’s made with common bakery ingredients. In fact, the same ingredients are used in my recipes for sandwich bread and homemade pizza dough. The basic ingredients – flour, yeast, water and salt – are the same, but changing the quantities can make a surprising difference in the finished product.
Bread bowl dough is a low-fat dough that makes crusty breads such as focaccia, homemade bagels and artisan breads. On the other hand, a richer dough makes softer breads such as babka, dinner rolls and glazed doughnuts. When I make softer, fluffier breads, I usually use all-purpose flour, use milk instead of water, and add fat such as eggs or butter. The more fat and oil, the longer the dough will take to rise. Today’s bread bowl is a particularly “lean” dough, so the rise time is very short.
There is no need to activate the yeast in this dough (this is a basic requirement). What you can do is to add a pinch of sugar to the warm liquid/yeast and see if the yeast is activated. Modern yeast is likely to be activated and ready to use. Just check the expiration date on the package.
This dough can be used for anything.
Once the dough is mature, shape it into six balls and bake. It is not just for bread bowls. This dough can easily be transformed into traditional dinner rolls, crusty bread, or even pizza dough. Add seasonings such as garlic powder, Italian seasoning, onion power and rosemary. This easy and versatile recipe allows you to enjoy freshly baked bread in many different ways.
- One batch of bread dough makes
- 24 dinner rolls
- 3 slices of crusty bread
- 4 12-inch pizza crusts
For detailed instructions on each variation, as well as tips on making and freezing them, see the recipe notes below the recipe.
What goes in the bread bowl?
The options for what to serve in your homemade bread bowl are endless. My favorites are crab dip, roasted garlic and bacon spinach dip, macaroni soup, slow cooker chicken and cream of chicken noodle soup (shown in today’s bowl). Click here to see my recipe for the soup.
Homemade Bread Bowls
Prep Time: 2 hours Cook Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes Yield: 6 large bread bowls
- 2 packets Red Star® Active Dry Yeast (4 and 1/2 teaspoons)
- 2 and 1/4 cups (540ml) warm water (110°F – 115°F)
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) olive oil
- 6 cups (780g) bread flour (spoon & leveled), plus more for hands and surface*
- egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water or milk
- Pour the warm water over yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Or, if you don’t have a stand mixer, a regular large mixing bowl. Whisk together and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Cover the bowl with a towel. The mixture should be frothy and foamy after 5 minutes.
- If you do not have a mixer, you can mix by hand in this step. With the stand mixer running on low speed, add the sugar, salt, olive oil, 4 cups of bread flour, and seasonings (if using, see recipe note). Beat on low speed for 1 minute, then add remaining 2 cups of flour. Beat on low speed for 5-6 minutes. The dough should be thick, yet soft. And only slightly sticky. It should pull away from the sides of the bowl as it mixes. If it’s too sticky, add more flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Then place into a large greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. (I just use the same mixing bowl– remove the dough, grease it with nonstick spray or olive oil, put the dough back in.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm environment to rise until doubled, about 90 minutes. Tip: For the warm environment on a particularly cold day, heat your oven to 150°F (66°C). Turn the oven off, place the dough inside, and keep the door slightly ajar. This will be a warm environment for your dough to rise. After about 30 minutes, close the oven door to trap the air inside with the rising dough. When it’s doubled in size, remove from the oven.
- Once doubled in size, punch down the dough to release any air bubbles. Remove dough from the bowl and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Punch down again to release any more air bubbles if needed.
- Using a sharp knife or dough scraper, cut into 6 even pieces. Form each into a large ball.
- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Place 3 dough balls onto each. Cover lightly and set aside to rest for 20 minutes as the oven preheats.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Brush each dough ball with egg wash and, using a sharp knife, score an X into the tops of each.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool until ready to handle. The longer you cool, the easier they are to cut open!
- For serving, cut a large round out of the top of each bread bowl. Scoop out the center (save the center to dunk into soup!) and fill with soup.
- Cover and store leftover bread bowls at room temperature for a couple days or in the refrigerator for 1 week. You can also freeze the baked bread bowls for up to 3 months, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- Make Ahead Instructions: After dough has risen in step 3, punch down the dough inside the mixing bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days, then remove from the refrigerator and continue with step 4. OR freeze for up to 2 months, then allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and continue with step 4.
- Whole Wheat Flour: I do not recommend using whole wheat flour in this dough. If desired, you can replace up to 1 cup of bread flour (about 130g) with whole wheat flour.
- Half Recipe: You can halve this recipe to make only 3 bread bowls. Or make the dough as written and freeze half for later use (see make ahead tip).
- Adding Flavor: I love adding a little flavor to the bread dough. I tested the recipe with a couple teaspoons of garlic powder and could hardly taste it. (Though I could certainly smell it.) I increased to 1.5 Tablespoons and it left a light and lovely garlic flavor. Adding garlic powder is optional, but tastes wonderful in the bread. If it pairs nicely with your soup of choice, definitely add it. You can also add 1-2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning or rosemary, or a Tablespoon of onion powder.
- Dinner Rolls: Makes 24 rolls, which is likely more than you need, but you can freeze half of the dough for later. Prepare dough through step 4. Instead of forming into 6 balls in step 5, divide the dough in half. Freeze half of the dough for later use (see make ahead tip) and form the other half into 12 balls. Place balls in a greased 9×13 baking pan. Cover lightly and set aside to rest for 20 minutes. Brush with egg wash, score with an X if desired (not necessary) and bake at 350°F (177°C) for 25-28 minutes or until the tops and edges are golden brown.
- Pizza Dough: Makes 4 12-inch pizza crusts, which is likely more than you need, but you can freeze half of the dough for later.Prepare dough through step 4. Instead of forming into 6 balls in step 5, divide the dough in half. Freeze half of the dough for later use (see make ahead tip) and form the other half into 2 large balls. Cover lightly and set aside to rest for 20 minutes. Flatten each ball of dough 1 at a time on a lightly floured surface or on a silicone baking mat. You could also do this directly on your greased pizza pan.Flatten and stretch into a 12-inch round circle. Brush with a little olive oil (no need for egg wash). Add toppings and bake in a super hot oven at 475°F (246°C). Pizzas typically take 12-15 minutes.
- Crusty Bread Loaves: Makes about 3 loaves of crusty bread. Prepare dough through step 4. Instead of forming into 6 balls in step 5, divide the dough into 3 pieces. You can freeze 1 or 2 pieces for later use (see make ahead tip). Round into a ball as best you can and place onto a lined baking sheet. Cover lightly and set aside to rest for 30 minutes. The dough will spread out a bit. Brush with egg wash, score with an X, and bake at 400°F (204°C) for 30 minutes or until the tops and edges are golden brown.