Quick(er) Whole Wheat Bread Bowls
Ryan’s a man with simple food needs. When I feel stumped on new recipes, and ask him what I should make, his normal response is, “Make a stuffed something.” He likes food inside of food.
Last Saturday my very favorite person, this stuffed-food lover, turned 30. To celebrate this new decade, we went to his dad’s house in southwest Wisconsin for a weekend of slowing down, playing fetch with Teia in the wide open (WOW it’s funny how fast those tiny legs can go), and, for me, making some of Ryan’s favorite things.
When I ask for recipe help and he mentions stuffed food, about a third of the time the conversation turns to bread bowls. For a long time I resisted, because, to be honest, bread baking is time-consuming and intimidating. Too often have I set out to make bread, put in the time, and ended up with a dry, hard, disappointing result.
Fortunately, with all that disappointment comes WISDOM, and I’ve recently started to feel more comfortable with yeasted breads. The process has actually become pretty fun and satisfying. When I see the yeast foam up during proofing I’ll say, “Look at that yeast go! It’s magical!” Sure, Ryan makes fun of me for this (cause who wouldn’t?), but tasty, airy, well-made yeasted bread is no laughing matter.
These bread bowls only require 7 ingredients, and instant yeast speeds up the rise time from around 90 minutes to 50 minutes (which is a BIG difference if you’re impatient like me). If I’m eating a large bowl of bread, I prefer that it be whole wheat so I get some whole grains, fiber, and protein with my carbs. To keep these airy and chewy, I added vital wheat gluten to the dough. You should be able to find it in the baking aisle (Bob’s Red Mill), or in a bulk bin. You only need 2 tablespoons, but don’t leave it out, because that extra boost of gluten makes a huge difference in texture.
This recipe makes 4 large bread bowls, and can easily be doubled if needed. The resulting bowls are crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and perfectly comforting when paired with creamy, hearty, cheesy soup…which Ryan ate 3 helpings of on his birthday. We’ll get to that later this week :)
Quick(er) Whole Wheat Bread Bowls
Bread bowls that are crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, easy to make, and 100% whole wheat.
Yield: 4 bread bowls
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- 1 2/3 cups warm water (it should feel warm to the touch, but NOT uncomfortably hot - that will kill your yeast)
- 3 packets (2 1/4 teaspoon each) instant dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons cane sugar (or granulated sugar)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for coating the bowl/brushing
- 3 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- Combine the water, sugar and yeast. Let sit for a 10 minutes. It should get foamy in this time - if it doesn't, that means your yeast is dead (sad!), so start over.
- Whisk in the olive oil, and then add the flour, wheat gluten, and salt. If you don't have a stand mixer, use a wooden spoon to combine, and then turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, until it comes together into a smooth dough. If you have a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to combine the wet and dry ingredients, then switch to the knead hook for 5-10 minutes. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead a few times with your hands.
- After the dough is kneaded, lightly coat a large bowl with oil, then place the dough into the bowl and turn over a few times to coat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and let rise for 30 minutes until doubled in size.
- Punch down the risen dough, turn out onto the floured surface again, and divide into 4 equal pieces. Stretch each one into a smooth, tight ball. Place onto a greased baking sheet, and lightly cut an "x" into the top of each ball. Cover with damp paper towels and let rise for another 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Lightly brush each dough ball with olive oil.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
- Let the bowls cool until they are easy to handle, and then core them: cut a circle in the top at a 45-degree angle. Use a spoon to scoop out additional bread until you have a nice bowl to hold your soup!
If not eating right away, store the baked bowls in an airtight container. Reheat in the oven at 325 degrees for 10 minutes.