December 7, 2018

Bread bowl basics: Making edible dishware work for you

There’s no faster, easier or more effective way to enhance the soup, pasta, or dip-eating experience than by serving it up in a bread bowl. As you probably already know, a bread bowl is literally a bowl made of bread, meaning it’s effectively edible dishware. Austin culinary students would be wise to include this option on their menu, but first, they need to understand the basics of the bread bowl.

First things first: Consider texture and size of the bread

For a bread bowl to hold any type of food in it, the bread used must have a thick and sturdy crust. Most chefs will use sourdough, Italian, whole wheat, rye or pumpernickel baked in a round loaf. To create the bread bowl, cut the top off the loaf and scoop out some of the bread inside. Make sure you leave at least an inch of bread around the crust on the inside of the bowl. You want to it to be thick enough to contain a soup without leaking or becoming soggy before the guests have finished eating the contents.

Once the top is removed, glaze the inside of the bread bowl with olive oil to help create a seal. Bake the bread for about 15 minutes or until golden on the inside, remove from the oven, and fill it up with whatever you’re serving. Keep in mind that thicker, creamier soups are idea for bread bowls. A thinner, more watery broth will make the bread bowl soggier faster.

Whether you’re making the bread in-house or purchasing it, you’ll need to factor in the size of the loaf, which will depend on how you choose to present the bread bowl – as a single-serving vessel for one person’s soup, or a a communal bowl for a dip.

Customers will appreciate the extra effort and creativity that go into bread bowls.Customers will appreciate the extra effort and creativity that go into bread bowls.

Exploring your filling options

The obvious candidates for a bread bowl include chowders, bisques, chili and other creamy soups. However, bread bowls also make the perfect serving vessel for robust dips – creamy spinach and artichoke dip, beer cheese, or this bacon-tomato cream cheese dip from of Taste of Home. The beauty of the bread bowl is that, once you run out of chips or crackers to scoop up the dip, you can just start ripping pieces of the bread off, and voila! You have a second round of your appetizer.

Another creative idea is to serve casseroles and other dishes in a bread bowl. Some examples include macaroni and cheese and ratatouille. Pastas also make great filling for a bread bowl. Take the example of Tastemade’s recipe for spaghetti and meatballs in a garlic bread bowl. As pasta lovers everywhere know, bread is essential for wiping away any excess sauce on the plate – unless of course, the bread is the plate and it’s already absorbed much of the red sauce. Tastemade’s method of serving involves slicing a bigger bread bowl into pizza-like wedges, but there are no rules here. If you prefer, serve your bread bowl as an individual entree rather than a family-style dish.

Last but not least, dessert bread bowls are indeed a thing. Make a mouth-watering, sugar-coated apple-pie bread bowl filled with sweetened apple slices, and topped with vanilla ice cream, a la this recipe from the BakerMama.

Remember, it’s your bread bowl. Fill it with your very own culinary inspirations.