After our brief heatwave (45 degrees Fahrenheit) we had below zero wind chills. On Tuesday, we had blizzard-like conditions. The snow was falling and the wind was blowing the snow everywhere. It was perfect day for a warm comforting dinner. I read about Nicole’s sourdough starter at PinchMySalt I have never made homemade bread before and was up to the challenge. I needed to start my own sourdough starter, thus making this bread bowl adventure an all day thing. The time and effort I put into this meal was well worth it. My first attempt was a success! My favorite thing to order from Panera Bread is their broccoli cheddar soup in a bread bowl. I do not need Panera anymore, because I can make my own, which is just as tasty!
I found a recipe for sourdough bread starter at the Food Network’s website, I chose Emeril’s recipe to follow. For my broccoli cheese soup, I adapted a recipe from my great grandma Nona. My grandma worked with my great grandma to type all of her recipes into a cookbook, which we received for a Christmas present in 1997. I have referenced it countless times when I need some inspiration for dinner. I am looking forward to getting a cookbook of my great grandma Dorothy’s recipes… hint, hint.
BASIC SOURDOUGH STARTER
3 c warm water (110 degrees F)
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit until the yeast becomes foamy, about 5 minutes. (If the yeast does not foam, discard the mixture and begin again with a new yeast.)
Add the flour and stir vigorously to work air into the mixture. Cover with a towel let rest in a warm, draft-free place (an oven with its pilot light or light bulb turned on works well) for 8 to12 hours. (The mixture should become very bubbly.) Use immediately or cover loosely with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
Preserving the Starter: Each time you remove a portion of the starter for a recipe, reserve at least 1/4 cup and replace the amount you have taken out with equal amounts of flour and water.
For example, if you remove 1 cup of starter, you must replace it with 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of warm water. Whisk these ingredients into the starter until blended but not completely smooth, cover loosely, and return to the refrigerator.
Also, the starter must be maintained by feeding it every few days. Refresh by removing 1 cup of the starter (give to a friend or discard it) and adding 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of warm water. Whisk until blended but not smooth. Cover loosely and return to the refrigerator.
If you plan to be away longer than a week, freeze the starter in a sterilized, airtight freezer container. Thaw the starter 2 days before you plan to bake with it. Refresh as indicated above with 1 cup each of flour and warm water. Cover and leave at room temperature 12 hours or overnight before using.
CAUTION: Never keep your starter tightly closed! The gasses expelled by the yeast will build up pressure and may cause the container (such as a glass jar) to burst!
I left my mixture sit for 8 1/2 hours before I began to work with it.
BASIC SOURDOUGH BREAD
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups sourdough starter, recipe follows
3/4 teaspoon salt
In an electric mixer with the dough hook, combine the flour, starter and salt, and knead until it no longer sticks to the sides or bottom of the mixing bowl.
Place a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle lightly with flour and knead gently, removing any large air bubbles. Knead into a small circle, then shape into a tight ball (for bread bowls, separate dough in half and shape into two tight balls), pinching the seams together underneath. Place on a well-floured board or baking peel, seam-side down. Cover with a kitchen towels and let rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat a baking stone, if available, on the bottom rack of an oven at 400 degrees F. With a sharp, serrated knife, cut a large “X” or cross-hatch pattern into the top of the dough.
Spray lightly with a mister and transfer to the baking stone (or place on a heavy baking sheet lightly dusted with cornmeal) and bake until golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, about 60 minutes. (Sourdough should have a darker crust than other breads, so leave in the oven 5 minutes after you think it is done.)
Remove the loaf from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.
I brushed my bread bowls with melted butter when they came out of the oven.
BROCCOLI CHEESE SOUP
adapted from great grandma Nona’s recipe
1 bunch broccoli -cut up
1 1/2 c boiling water (I used 1 c chicken stock and the hot water I used to rinse out the soup cans. I filled them 1/4 of the way full and swished them around to get the excess soup out)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 c light cream (I had none on hand so I used whole milk)
salt & pepper to taste
8 oz cubed Velveeta
1/2c shredded carrots
1/2 c minced white onion
1 T olive oil
Sautee carrots and onion in olive oil.
Add broccoli, chicken stock, soup(and water), milk, and Velveeta. Simmer on med-lo until broccoli is tender.
Once broccoli is tender, scoop out about 1/2 of the mixture and pulse in a blender a few times. Be careful because the mixture is very hot!
Add back to the pot and stir well. Scoop out the insides of the bread bowl and reserve for dipping. Add the soup to the bread bowl and ENJOY!