LOL, well wouldn't you use that title? Now that the song is stuck in YOUR head too...I thought I'd share a cute little trick for making an attractive Martha Stewart style vessel for serving those yummy holiday dips, stews, or even...bread rolls. Now, I don't do this that often, really, only when I have time and only when I want a really pretty festive looking table...you know, somethin' special. So I made this bowl for an upcoming family Xmas party, to house the infamous spinach dip, that my family can't live without during the holidays. (I use the recipe on the back of Mrs. Knorr's Vegetable Soup Mix)
It's not as difficult as it looks either. Most of you know by now, I make my own bread, but you could really save yourself the time and effort by just buying a couple of cans of Pillsbury bread dough (french bread). If you are making a bread bowl for stew however, I would suggest that you make it out of a heavier bread, like wheat or rye, so that it holds up better. For this one, I used my traditional bread recipe. You will follow all of the steps and weave your bowl after the first rise. Since I was making bread for on the side too, I just used half of the recipe for the bowl and the other half I made 2 long baguettes that would be sliced up and placed around the bowl.
So, first you need to choose an oven proof bowl which will serve as the mold while the bread bowl bakes. You can use any shape or size that you'd like. (i.e individual smaller bowls for soup servings) For my spinach dip, I chose a 2qt corning ware dish, but I've done larger Pyrex glass bowls which worked fine also. You'll need to measure the depth of the side and across the bottom, this will give you an idea of how long to make the strips. Add just an inch or so to make sure that it's long enough.
After rolling out a rectangle, I use a pizza cutter to cut the strips. You can make the strips as wide as you'd like, but really, the smaller they are the prettier the pattern is. I use about 1" wide strips. Grease a baking sheet and the outside of the bowl generously with shortening so that the bread doesn't stick after baked. If you're doing a round bowl, then place them crisscross like I've done in the pic below, making the "spines" of the basket. Press down in the middle so that the strips stick together.
Next, start weaving your strips. You want to start a strip on the inside of one of the spines, use a dot of water so that the bread dough sticks to each other. Lift up every other spine as you work the horizontal strips around the bowl. Try not to stretch the strips too much while going around, but on the other hand, you always want the end of a strip to end up beneath a spine, so that it's on the inside and not showing. Start the next strip where you finished the last one and pinch them together slightly. Start your next row of horizontal strips a couple of spines over, so that all of your starting and stopping points are scattered.
Continue weaving around the bowl until you come to the bottom. Just be sure to get your weaved strips as close as you can to each other. If there are tiny holes that's ok, the dough will swell up and fill those in on the next rise. When you get to the end, trim all of the spine strips so they are all even with the weaved strips.
Next, to finish the top, take three long strips (you can stretch these out a bit) and do a simple three stranded braid. You can set something on the end to help hold them in place while you are braiding.
Once you have the braided strand, lightly moisten the bottom edge all around the weaved basket, again, this will help the dough to stick. Trim the ends of the braided strip before you start, this will give a neater look in the end. Now wrap the braided strand around the bowl and where the ends meet, trim and then pinch them together so that they stay in place.
Now it's time for the second rise. Set a oven proof plate on top. I just use a corningware plate which isn't that heavy, but it works fine. Cover the plate and bowl with a towel and let the bowl rise in a warm place for about 30-40 minutes. Next, make an egg wash using 1 egg with 1 or 2 tablespoons of water. Lightly brush on the sides of the bowl. This will help give it a beautiful color after baking.
Place the bowl and the plate into a 375F oven and bake for about 15 min. The plate helps to keep the bottom flat so that your bowl will sit level later. After 15 minutes, remove the plate and place the bowl back into the oven. Use more of the egg wash on the bottom so that it gets an even brown. Bake the bowl for about another 10-15 minutes. Of course you won't see the bottom of the bowl, but this step gives it more integrity so that it will hold up to the dip or whatever you are putting in there.
Once the bowl is a nice even brown all over, remove it from the oven and place the plate back on the bottom while it cools. Again, this will help keep the bottom level and also, more dense and sturdy.
Next, after the bowl has cooled for about 10-15 minutes and it is cool enough to handle, carefully turn it over to remove the bowl. You may have to run a butter knife along the inside edges just a bit to loosen it.
This bowl also freezes really well. In fact, I have done them like 2 months in advance. Just set it on plastic wrap and bring the sides up and over, covering and tucking it into the middle. Then I wrap that in heavy duty aluminum foil. If you are using it for a dip, you can even fill it while it is frozen, that way, your dip will stay cool longer on the buffet table.
Waaaaalaaaaa! A pretty bowl that will be sure to impress your guests. You'll need to set it and keep it on a plate or platter for transport to your table. Now fill it and place bread slices, or chunks around the bowl. The very best part is, when you run out of the bread placed around the bowl, your guest can also eat the bowl! Trust me, they WILL eat the bowl, some say it's the best part! Of course, your guests will be reluctant to tear into your artwork, so you'll have to be the first one to cut into it. LOL
This will probably be my last post throughout the rest of the holiday season, so I wanted to say to those whom it applies, have safe travels..... and to all of you... Happy Holidays!