Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sourdough Bread Bowls

Bread Bowls Are Perfect For Your Superbowl Chili & Dips

The first thing you need is a sourdough starter. This is a very easy thing to do. Make a slurry of equal parts flour and water, stir until smooth and leave it on a window sill for a few days. It will attract wild yeasts in the air and begin to bubble and work. If you want to hurry things along you can add a couple teaspoons of dry yeast and a spoon of sugar here and there. The traditionalists will condemn you for your modern ways, but, like, fuck them. Be sure when working with sourdough to use wooden or silicone spoons and mix it in a crockery or plastic bowl. No metal.

Once your starter has begun to work you can put it in glass jars in the fridge. Feed it once or twice a week with a cup of flour, a cup of water and a tablespoon or two of sugar. As you develop your relationship with your starter you'll begin to know what makes it happy and active and what to do to keep it growing. If your starter begins to grow beyond a reasonable container, or gets to a size of more than six cups, stick some in a jar and give it to a friend.

For bread bowls you take:

1 1/2 cups sourdough starter
2 cups of bread flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix well, knead for ten to fifteen minutes. I have a dough hook attachment for my stand mixer that I almost never use. I like the feel of working the dough with my hands. I'll hook it if I have other stuff to do, but if I have the time I work the dough by hand.

When the dough is smooth and elastic, form into a ball and put the ball into a lightly oiled bowl (again, no metal), cover with cloth and stick it in a warm, draft free place for a couple hours until it has doubled in bulk.

Punch it down (I reccomend that Obama, Reid, and Pelosi use the bread dough method with the Republicans in Congress -- Everytime they rise, punch them the fuck down) and separate into two portions. Work each portion into a ball, slash an "X" across the top with a very sharp knife, place on a well greased sheet that has been sprinkled lightly with cornmeal. Cover with a cloth, loosely, and allow to rise again for about an hour (or, until doubled in size).

To get a harder, deep golden brown crust, take an egg white mixed with a little water and brush over the rounds before you put them into a 400° oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes brush the crusts down with the egg wash again, then give them 15 more minutes.

When the rounds are a deep golden brown and sound hollow when you thunk them with a finger take them out of the oven and cool them on a rack.

To use as a bowl, slice the top off right about where the curve of the round begins to slope sharply down. Dig out as much or as little of the bread as you care to use. The chunks of bread that I pull out always go onto a staling sheet to be used for making bread crumbs or bread pudding.

This bread isn't the greatest eating bread in the world, but it will hold a soup, stew, chili, or dip just fine. There's also the added advantage of zero cleanup.