I made soup for our dinner group a few weeks ago, but wanted to make something that would jazz it up. Bread bowls were the perfect solution, and I thought they were so fun to make! They make a GREAT presentation, and everyone will be so impressed with your skills. :)
Italian Bread Bowls
1 ½ Tbsp. yeast
2 ½ c. warm water
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
7 c. flour
2 Tbsp. cornmeal
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
**Yields: 6 bread bowls
In the bowl of an electric mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Add salt, oil and 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture; beat well. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed after each addition until a soft but not sticky dough is formed.
Knead dough for about 6 minutes with and electric mixer or by hand, adding a little more flour if necessary. Lightly spray a large bowl with Pam. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.
(Note: Look at how HUGE this got! It was a double batch though. My poor Kitchen Aid was smokin' trying to knead this baby!)
Punch dough down, and divide into 6 equal portions. Shape each portion into a nice, smooth, round ball. Place loaves on lightly greased baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, beat together egg white and 1 tablespoon water; lightly brush the loaves with half of this egg wash. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Brush with remaining egg mixture, and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.