Bread Bowls

Posted on October 28, 2009


My second challenge for the Fresh From the Oven Bread Baking Group was something I had seen in Richard Bertinet’s book: Soup Bowls made of bread dough. He had the idea after getting an indian takeaway and thinking how unappetising it looked in the plastic trays.

Corry of Bake it Off has taken Richard’s recipe and made it much easier to follow on the group blog. Although I love the recipes and photo’s in Richard’s book I find it frustrating when you have to flick to 3 different pages to do one recipe and then work out where you should be starting and finishing each process with floury hands.

If not making my favourite no knead bread I use Richard’s French Fold style of kneading anyway. It get’s your kitchen worktop a bit messy as it is a very wet dough that starts off by sticking to everything, but it makes for a very well risen, light bread. I also use Richard’s technique for making Fougasse. I like his concept of working air through the dough as opposed to bashing it around and punching it down which seems to be the most common English style.

The general gist is that you make a pretty normal dough with some olive oil and semolina added for texture, then drape rounds of dough over greased bowls then bake them in a hot oven. There is a slightly nerve racking bit whilst you try and get the bowls out of their little doughy jackets, but I found this much easier on the ones that I made with my smallest metal mixing bowls, rather than the earthenware or Pyrex ones.

I had been trying to find a suitable occasion to make them all month, then one day last week Deb from Fabulous Places contacted me and asked me to join the Fabulous Faces team on the Ed to Head quiz challenge on Radio Derby. This involved us going live on air and being given 5 questions each day with about half an hour to answer them.

So we manically phoned and Twittered and Googled and by day 2 we had got all 10 of our questions correct. Day one was hosted by Wendy at Quirky Cookies HQ, where we had lovely winter vegetable soup and biscotti, and Day two was here at Things We Make. So that was the day to try out the bread bowls on the team and see if they worked.

Luckily the Courgette Soup that I made to go in them is quite thick so all of it stayed in the bowl and none seeped out. They actually seem really resilient, and quite good to eat afterwards too. The Radio presenter seemed quite intrigued about the bread bowls and asked about them on each live link!

So although we are not supposed to openly talk about our monthly challenge until 28th of the month we accidentally ended up broadcasting it to the nation (well, Derbyshire anyway!). Day 3 was at Debs place where antipasto was the order of the day, and yet again we got 5 out of 5, even though it meant that David from Square Chilli had to drive to West Hallam and I had to race to Ripley. Day 4 was back at mine again for a quick bite and some fruit to counteract all the cake and crisps. We obviously lost our mojo though as we only got 4 out of 5. I missed the Friday Finale as I was down in London at a Food Photography Workshop. They texted me with the good news that they had scored 5 out of 5 again. If no one beats us it’s up for a tie breaker next week. Unfortunately I will miss that though as we are looking forward to a few days in Wales, so if you see this post before the end of the week it’s because I have managed to ask some kind person to publish it for me in my absence. There is no TV reception where we are going, let alone web access!

Here is Corry’s recipe that I worked to for this months challenge:



  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 20 gm course semolina
  • 15gm fresh yeast (or 1 sachet dried)
  • 10 gm salt
  • 50 gm good-quality fruity olive oil
  • 320 gm water
  • chilli or spice (optional for added flavour)

Preheat the oven to 250˚C (500˚F). Mix together the flour and semolina and rub in the yeast as if you were making a crumble (Richard Bertinet’s method – see below for video link). If using a mixer, switch it on to the slowest speed, add salt, olive oil and water and mix for 2 minutes, then turn the speed up to the next lowest speed and mix for 6 to 7 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.

If you are kneading by hand, knead for approximately 10 to 12 minutes or until you have a nice smooth elastic ball of dough. Richard Bertinet has a unique kneading technique referred to as the French fold that can take approximately 5 to 10 minutes depending on practice. You can view his method in a online video at the Gourmet Webpage. In this video, he is actually doing sweet dough but the same technique can be used for most bread dough.

Place the dough into a bowl that has been floured, cover with a tea towel and leave in a draught free place for approximately 1 hour or until doubled in volume.

Lightly oil or spray with non-stick spray, the outside of 6 ovenproof bows (I used pyrex bowls). Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 6 to 8 pieces (depending on the size of your baking bowls). Taking one piece of dough at a time and using a rolling pin, roll each piece into a circle (similar to making pizza). Shake off excess flour and shape each piece over an upturned bowl, patting into shape and pressing gently to remove air bubbles from between the dough and the bowl. Rest the dough for 10 minutes. Place the upturned bowls, two at a time, on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, then into the preheated oven. Turn the oven down to 200˚C (400˚F) and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes. Using a fine-bladed knife, gently loosen the bread from the bowls and ease off. Cool on a wire rack.

I found that the recipe makes 6 bowls using 16 x 10cm diameter pyrex bowls or 8 if you use 12cm bowls . Preparation takes 30 minutes, with 60 minutes resting time and 20 to 25 minutes to bake.