Bread Bowls, Pita bread, biscuits, -you might be surprised to learn about all of the things you can make with your bread machine.
On a fundamental level, a bread machine does two things. Create a dough and bake it. These recipes are basically focused on the dough cycle and require you to shape and finish the baking process in the oven. This gives you the opportunity to do many creative things with your baking for a variety of meal occasions and uses. This could include bread bowls for a chowder or stew, pita bread for sandwiches and shared meals, and biscuits for breakfast or with a hearty meal. The recipes are somewhat unique, but all have a basic foundation with flour and other ingredients. What’s significant is the shaping and baking styles in your oven. It’s not hard to do, but like all baking you have to carefully follow the directions.
If you’ve never enjoyed soup, stew or chili in a bread bowl you’re in for a treat. Bread bowls are easy to make and can make even the simplest meal special. There are two critical success factors when making and baking bread bowls.
For one, you want a good and firm crust on the bead. This will bring some integrity to the bowl so that it can hold its shape and the soup or stew. What you’re essentially baking is a small, round and crusty loaf. After it’s baked you cut a circle out of the top of the small loaf and pull out some of the bread inside to make room for the soup or stew.
A second thing to keep in mind is the type of soup or stew you put into the bread bowl. You’re better of with thick, cream soups, stews with a thickened gravy, chowders or a robust recipe like chili. Broth soups can be a problem. The broth in a chicken soup or the beef broth in a vegetable soup is too thin for the bread bowl. What will happen is that the bread bowl will simply soak up the broth, become soggy and leave you with the solid ingredients in a soft and mushy circle of bread. If that’s something you think you would like, give it a try. Most times we’re better off with the cream soups, chowders or the thicker stews.
However, if you simply love broth-based soups, there is a solution. As you are creating the bread bowl you are tearing out pieces of bread to create the bowl shape. I have added those pieces back to the bread bowl to not only soak up the broth and retain the integrity of the bread-bowl-wall, but it also adds a dimension to the broth-based soup. What you’ll get is similar to a “Gruel” or bread-soup. It’s a harsh sounding name for a soup, but it’s actually quite good and comforting. If your favorite soup is broth-based, this is good way to go. My wife loves Minestrone and she often will do this when bread bowls are in the fridge.
You can make the bowl any size you want. Just remember that the shape of the small round loaf you will form will at least double in size and may triple depending on when you removed the bread dough from the machine. I like to glaze my bowls with an egg yolk and milk-wash. It creates a crustier loaf. You can also make extra bread bowls and refrigerate them in a plastic bag for later use. Just let them come to room temperature after you take them out of the fridge.
Bread Bowls Recipe:
Makes 4 bowls
- 1/2 cup warm water (110°F.)
- 1/2 cup warm milk (110°F.)
- 1 egg (room temperature)
- 2 tablespoons butter (softened)
- 1tsp salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 cups bread flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- Cornmeal for baking sheet
- Egg yolk and 2 tbsp milk whisked for glaze
Beat the egg with milk and water and add to bread pan. Add the remaining ingredients and select dough cycle. Once cycle is complete, take out dough to a floured surface & cut into 4 chunks. Shape into rounds. Spread a thin layer of cornmeal on the baking sheet. Place all four dough rounds on pan and cover with thin towel or plastic wrap to let rise for about an hour. Once doubled, glaze with the egg yolk mixture and bake in pre-heated oven at 350º for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan and cool. Cut a thin layer across top and hollow out to about 1/4-1/2 inch in thickness. Fill with your favorite chili, chowder, or stew.
Pita or Na’an Bread Recipe:
Pita bread which is very similar to Indian Na’an bread is a dominant bread style in many parts of the world. It’s great folded as a sandwich, for dipping into a community plate of meat or vegetables, or as a flat bread topped with anything you like. It also creates a pocket that you can stuff with everything from a salad combination to fruits in case you don’t want to do the traditional meat and sauce combination like a Gyro. Pita bread actually puffs into a bread balloon that you can cut in half and fill, or simply fold into a sandwich. It’s a very flexible and dynamic bread. You can make extra and refrigerate or freeze them for later use.
Most recipes recommend that you bake them on something called a “pizza stone.” It’s 1/2 inch to one inch thick piece of stone you put in the oven during the pre-heat. If you don’t have a pizza stone you can put a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil in the oven during the preheat cycle or a large, glass baking dish.
Be careful though, this recipe calls for very high temperatures and you don’t even want to think about touching anything in the oven without some well insulated oven pads or mitts. You also want to stage your baking. You typically bake two at a time for a short period ranging from 2 to 4 minutes a side. This is a fairly labor intensive baking process and requires attention to both safety due to the high heat (500°F.); the high heat of the internal oven surfaces and the fairly constant turning and handling of the pita bread. Tongs are a good idea for turning the bread, but turn carefully because they will puff-up and be somewhat delicate in the oven.
- 1 1⁄2 cups warm water (110° F.)
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 3 1⁄2cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 2teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 1⁄4 teaspoons active dry yeast
Combine ingredients in the bread pan in the order indicated. Set for a 2 pound dough cycle. Toward the end of the dough cycle place the pizza stone or baking sheet on the lowest oven rack and pre-heat it to 500 degrees. When the dough is ready punch it down and divide it into 8 balls, keeping it all lightly floured and covered. Rest the covered balls for 15 minutes. Roll each ball into an eight inch circle, one quarter inch thick; making sure circles are totally smooth, with no creases or seams. Do not stack the disks but keep them covered. Put 2 pitas on the hot stone or cookie sheet and bake them 2 to 3 minutes a side until they’re puffed and a pale golden color. Be careful and keep an eye on them. They cook really quick. Cool on rack 5 minutes. They will naturally deflate, leaving a pocket. Wrap them in a kitchen towel to keep them soft.
This is a simple and fairly straightforward recipe. Great for any morning or weekend brunch or as a side for a dinner with a gravy or heavy sauce. You can also top a stew or hearty soup and cover for dumplings. If you want to do the dumpling thing add them about 15 to 20 minutes before your ready to eat. Make sure you keep the pot covered so the dumplings have a chance to set.
Makes 12 to 24 biscuits depending on your cutting size
- 2/3 cup milk (you can substitute buttermilk if you like)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/4tsp. salt
- 3½ cups bread flour or 3 cups bread flour and ½ cup wheat flour
- 1 tbsp. active dry yeast
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
Select the dough cycle and when done remove the dough to a floured surface and roll out until 1/2″ thick. Preheat oven to 425° F. Cut rounds out of the dough with a water glass or dough cutter to the shape and size you like. Place on a buttered or oiled cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until browned.
There’s more you can do but this is a good start on some of the unique recipes that take your beyond the basic baking style of your bread machine.