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Potato Bread Bowls

The weather has turned cold again and there is snow in the foothills I can see from my window. I wouldn’t mind a little more spring-like warmth to coax the budding leaves from the maple trees. Still, it is too pretty outside to complain. The sky is a beautiful shade of blue. Daffodils and crocuses are pushing up through a warm blanket of bark mulch to brighten the season. They seem determined to stretch their showy petals in the chilly air and add a splash of color to the emerging spring landscape.

That's where I was today too, out in my back yard redoing my photos of Emerald Isle Stew. The abundance of natural light has helped me to capture some great images this winter. When it is dark and gray it can be difficult to get any shots I am happy with but this winter the gray days have kept to a minimum and taking pictures has been a real joy.

Today the sunshine and the chill conspired to add atmosphere as my stew visibly steamed. As I strived to capture a vivid shot I realized there’s nothing more appealing when I am extra cold and hungry than a hearty stew served in a bread bowl. At a lodge in the mountains or on a windy trek at the coast I am always delighted to see stew or clam chowder in a bread bowl on the menu. There is something deeply satisfying about a rich savory gravy soaking into a thick slice of good bread.

When filled with Emerald Isle Stew these bread bowls are no exception. I often make bread bowls to serve stew in on St. Patrick's Day. The potatoes in the dough make it a little bit unusual and add another Irish note to the menu. I first made these from directions that were printed along with the recipe for Emerald Isle Stew. They were made from a box of packaged Hot Roll Mix.

I tried the recipe using the boxed mix and made it several times. It was good but I could never figure out the advantage of using the Hot Roll Mix instead of flour and a bit of yeast, salt and sugar from my own pantry. The Hot Roll Mix can be hard to find and I think it is probably more expensive, not to mention that extra packaging that must be discarded. Instead I found another Potato Bread recipe, made a few changes to incorporate what I liked about the original recipe and ended up with these pretty rustic bowls.

I think they turned out well, but if making bread bowls seems too fussy, or just doesn't appeal to you, you might like to make the dough and shape it into rolls or loaves. It has a nice smooth texture and mild flavor.

Potato Bread Bowls
adapted from an idea in Southern Living and a recipe at foodnetwork.com

1 Tablespoon yeast
5 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon dried chives (or use fresh chives, chopped, if you have them)
1 cup mashed potatoes, at room temperature (made from instant potato flakes is okay)
1 cup milk, scalded (or potato water if you just cooked the potato you mashed)
2/3 cup warm water
3 Tablespoons butter, melted

Add the ingredients, in the order listed (or the order suggested by your bread machine's instructions). Set the machine to 'manual' so that you can take the dough, when ready, and shape it yourself.

(Or if you don't have a bread machine:
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Heat the milk, mashed potatoes, water and butter over low heat until warm, 115 to 120 degrees. Add mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until a dough forms. Turn the dough onto a well floured surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turn once. Cover with a towel and let it rise in a warm place until double, approximately 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Continue as follows.)

When the dough is ready, punch down and divide it into 6 equal portions. Cover and let the dough rest for 5 - 10 minutes.

While the dough rests prepare the pans. Grease two baking sheets and then invert 6 small bowls or large custard cups, 3 on each baking sheet. Spray these with cooking spray.

Roll each portion of dough into a circle wide enough to cover the bowl forms.

Place one circle of dough over each bowl or custard cup, shaping so that the edge of the dough rests on or near the baking sheet, covering the form.

Cover loosely with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 30 -60 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden. Cool 5 minutes; remove bread bowls from bowl forms. Bake, right side up, 5 additional minutes, if desired, for extra crispness.

Yield: 6 bread bowls.


Mary Bergfeld said...

This is a wonderful idea for cheapskates like me. I love bread bowls but hate to pay for them. Huge thanks for sharing the recipe with us.

Alanna Kellogg said...

Ah yes, I wondered if you were still doing the bread bowls for the stew - they sure look great. I've been wracking my brain, however, for what kind of bowls I have that would be oven-safe and none come to mind. Ideas??? The closest I can come at the moment is one-cup ramekins but they don't have sloping sides.

Anonymous said...


I am definitely going to be making these!

Lisa said...

Alanna - In the past I have used pyrex custard cups to shape the bread bowls. They are small though, holding only about 3/4 cup, but that's plenty for most of my family and there always enough for seconds.

This year I used the fruit bowls from my Mikasa dinnerware. I also used a small bowl from Apilco. Both are advertised as "oven safe."

I think ramekins would work too, though the look would be a little different, especially on the inside of the bowl but ,when filled with stew, you'd hardly notice the difference. Just be sure to grease them well so they can be removed easily.

Let me know how they work for you!

Robin Sue said...

These are awesome bread bowls. I would have never thought of this. What a great way to serve your Irish stew!

Michelle said...

I've always wanted to try making a bread bowl and you've inspired me. There's a sweet onion soup I've been wanting to make and this would be perfect!

Anonymous said...

These are so, so great! Wow, how cool is this. I swear every month the entries are getting more and more creative!

grace said...

lisa, these are awesome! bread bowls for soup are a favorite, and i love tortilla bowls for taco salad. i'm adding these to that list immediately--bravo!

Anonymous said...

To my fellow "sharp shooter", great job. This is so cool looking!