Crusty Bread Bowls

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This recipe for bread bowls is actually a long, long, long-standing family  recipe for “Crispy Crusty Hard Rolls”  but I have used it to make bread of all sorts –  long, artisan style loaves, even Ciabatta and Ciabatta rolls!  I’ve braided it, stuffed it, rolled it, you name it I’ve done it to this bread recipe!  Having said that, it has even been made into bread bowls!

They are very easy to make, too!  But despite their ease, we’re going to provide you with step-by-step instructions, including pictures as we hop along.  These rolls (or bowls!) are very good with chili, too, and we would like to suggest you give them a try to serve your chili in for Super Bowl Sunday.  The guys will love them, too, guaranteed!

So, let get into the kitchen and get into the making of these edible serving alternatives!  The complete recipe will follow the step-by-step photos.

Have fun. . . and enjoy!


Crusty Bread Bowls


Begin making this crusty bread (or rolls) by making the “starter”.

Place the water, flour and 1/4 teaspoon of yeast in a large bowl.



Look at all those lovely bubbles that are forming!  Your yeast is at work!  If you do not see your ingredients dancing at this party, your yeast is no good!  It could be too old or your water was of the wrong temperature and “killed” the yeast.

The following morning, add the remaining ingredients to the starter.   Mix until combined.  The dough will look “shaggy”, but that is fine.  As you continue to knead the dough, it will smooth out.


See how smooth and “silky” the dough looks?

Continue to knead the dough until it cleanly pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth and silky in appearance.


The dough should look like this, smooth, silky and shiny, and completely cleared from sticking to the sides of the bowl.  It should feel somewhat “sticky” to the touch, however.   You can test this by pinching a small amount of dough between your fingers and thumb, and then releasing the dough, it should leave NO dough left on your fingers!


Divide the dough into the amount desired, depending on whether you are making bread, rolls, or the bowls.

Place the rounded balls of dough on a parchment lined sheet pan.  Cover lightly with a tea towel and allow to rise.


Immediately before placing them into the oven, make a slash across the top of the bread, rolls or bowls.   Be very careful when doing this!   You can use a VERY sharp knife, single edge razor, or “lame“, which is a special tool created just for this purpose.

Here is what a lame (pronounced “la-may”) looks like:

Notice the curve to the blade?  The razor on this lame is super sharp.  The sharpness and the curve of the blade makes a perfect slash into the dough.  It also prevents you from cutting too deep, something you can potentially do with a knife or razor, and especially if they are dull.

If using a knife or razor, the slash should be no more than 1/4 inch deep.  To do this, gently allow the blade’s edge to touch the top of the dough.  With a single movement, lightly press down and swiftly slice the top of the dough.

Place the bread in the hot oven to bake.

While this following step is not necessary, I like to do it because it really does take the crispy, crackly, crunchy crust to another level!  Be careful with this step and make sure you read it and understand it fully before doing it!   Just prior to placing the pan with the bread/rolls on it into the oven, place a disposable foil pan (or an oven proof pan, like a metal 13 x 9 cake pan) on the floor of the hot oven.  Now place the pan with the dough in the oven.  To the pan that you placed on the oven floor, add about a cup of cold water into it, then immediately close the oven door!  This step will create a blast of steam, which will aid in the development of the crispy crust.   You can repeat this step once or twice more, five minutes apart.


You can see how the bowls are beginning to rise as the heat penetrates the dough!


Oh, my, my, my!  Just look at all those tiny “bubbles” just below the crust!  Perfection!

They’re just screaming, “Crunch!  Crackle!  Crunch!”

If you are making the bread bowls, slice approximately 1/4 to 1/3 of the top of the bread balls off.

Carefully pull out the inner dough, leaving a nicely lined “bowl” to hold your chili, stew, dip, etc.


You can do a number of things with the “inners” from the bread bowls.  One of our favorite ways to use the light and airy inner crumb is to dip it in extra virgin olive oil, of course!!!  You can make the olive oil “flavored” or use it plain.

Another use is to make bread crumbs (but why waste such a good thing when you can dip?!).

You can also serve the remnants alongside the bread bowls for dipping into the chili!


This is one of those beautiful Crusty Bread Bowls filled with our Robust Beefy Chili.  The recipe for this beefy chili can be found here. If you’re looking for a lighter version of chili and something that is more heart healthy, you can find our recipe for White Chili, here.

And now, here is the recipe for these divine Crusty Bread Bowls!   Do let us know if you make them and your thoughts about them, too!


Crusty Bread Bowls
This recipe for crusty bread makes delicious rolls as well as perfect crusty bread bowls. The crust is crackly-crunchy, not tough and chewy, and an inner crumb that is light and airy. If making rolls, they are perfect for dinner but just as great for breakfast, too, slathered with butter and fruit preserves. Delicious! . rolls have a delicious crackly/crunchy crust, partly the result of allowing them to
  • 1/2 cup room temperature water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  1. To make the starter, in a large bowl, mix the starter ingredients together until smooth. (You can use this same bowl to continue making the bread the next day.)
  2. Cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight.
  3. The next morning/day, combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead them together by hand, mixer or bread machine, until you’ve made a soft, somewhat smooth dough. It should be cohesive, but the surface may still be a bit rough. It may stick to the bowl just a little, but that’s fine.
  4. Cover the dough and let rise for about one hour, then gently deflate it and turn it over.
  5. Cover the dough again and let rise a second time for about two hours, the gently deflate it and turn it over. The dough will have a total of three hours to rise.
  6. After the second rise, turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface or onto a non-stick pad.
  7. If making bread, divide the dough in two. If making rolls, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. If making bread bowls, divide the dough into 4 to 6 equal pieces, depending on how large/small you want the bowls to be. (If you’re u nsure about the size, remember that the finished dough will be two to two and one half the size of the dough prior to rising and baking.
  8. Shape the dough into a loaf or into balls if making rolls or the bread bowls.
  9. Firm the dough balls up by rolling them under your lightly cupped fingers.
  10. Place the rolls or bread bowls on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  11. Cover with a tea towel and let them rise for 1 to 2 hours, until they’re puffy, but NOT doubled in size. They may flatten out a little bit as they rise but that’s okay.
  12. Cover and refrigerate bread or rolls for 2 to 3 hours.
  13. Towards the end of the chilling time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
  14. Whisk together the egg white and water until frothy.
  15. Remove the bread or rolls from the refrigerator, and brush with the egg wash. (you will not use all of the egg wash; discard the unused portion!)
  16. Using a very sharp knife, a razor blade or a lame, slash a 1/4″ deep cut across the top of each roll. (this is optional, but it looks nice on the bread and rolls!) Immediately put the bread or rolls into the oven.
  17. Bake the both the bread and rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re a deep golden brown. The bred bowls may take 25 to 30 minutes.
  18. Remove from the oven, and cool on a rack. Or, for the best crunch, turn the oven off, open the oven door, and allow the rolls to cool while remaining in the turned-off, open-door oven.

1-2 loaves of bread (1 large loaf or 2 smaller)
10-12 dinner sized rolls
4-6 bread bowls, depending on size


2 Responses to Crusty Bread Bowls

  1. Chef Rosa January 16, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    Liz, if making bread bowls for chili, this recipe will make 4 to 6, depending on how large/small you want them. The recipe is EASILY doubled if you will need more than that, or, make some bread bowls and some dinner rolls, too, that you can also serve at your super bowl party, depending on your me nu. This recipe is so versatile that you may just find yourself coming back go it, time and time again!

    Let us know how they turned out for you and any comments you get!


  2. Liz M. January 16, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    Nice to be visiting your blog again, there’s always good writings here! These look scrumptuous. Great idea for our superbowl party this year.

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