Homemade is Better—Bread Bowls

If you are of a certain age, you might remember the Tim’s commercials when they released their chilli.  The actor was so excited about the dish and the fact that the bowl and chilli were both edible.  This was my inspiration for this recipe.  When I made chilli, it dawned on me that my kids have never had it out of a bread bowl.  I told them about the commercial, and they were into trying it.  I grabbed a few recipes for some guidance, then wrote this one with some basic direction from my baking classes many years ago.  I was happy enough with the results that I wanted to share it.

The hardest part of making fresh bread is waiting.  There is quite a bit of waiting involved when making bread products, and it’s hard because what do you do with the extra time? One great way I know of to pass the time is reading more articles from The Voice Magazine and learning something new!

Another more complicated part is timing.  When do you add flour? How do you know If you added too much or too little? Can you just add any ingredients to the bread? How do you know if you’ve let it rise long enough? What to do if you’re not sure if your bread is done?

Well, first, take a deep breath and breathe out slowly.  I’m here to help, and so is YouTube! I’ve got answers for all those questions.

Flour – If the dough is still sticky and is not coming away from the sides of the bowl, you do not have enough.  But don’t add heaping amounts at a time; this is the temperamental part.  Humidity comes into play when you are making bread products.  If your home is humid, you might need more flour than your recipe calls for.  The added moisture in the air will affect your dough, but you might likely only need one to two more tablespoons.  If you live in a dry climate, like Alberta, you may add less flour than the recipe calls for.  But here is the tricky part: how do you know how much less flour?

The answer is more straightforward than you might think.  If your dough is tacky, meaning it feels sticky, but it doesn’t coat your finger and you can work with it, then you’ve added enough.  Equally, if the dough leaves some residue on the side of your mixing bowl that’s a great indicator.  Once you have added ¾ of the flour, let the dough absorb.  Go slow and allow all the flour to be mixed in.  If the dough is still very sticky, add a little bit (one to two tablespoons) at a time on low speed until the dough keeps its shape and is no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl.  If you’re doing this by hand because you don’t have or want a stand mixer, you will look for similar signs.  The dough no longer sticks to your hands, keeps its shape, and doesn’t stick to the table as much.  You want a little tack, but not so much that it leaves behind its dough residue.

The next question of how to know what you can add to bread is a relatively easy one.  You can add lots of different ingredients to bread.  I added a few herbs to these bowls to give it a slightly floral and herbal scent that would complement the chilli.  You can add lemon zest, orange zest, raisins, dried fruits, nuts, herbs, spices, chocolate, olives, pickles, cheese, etc.  I think you get my point, and there is an extensive list of ingredients you can add to improve the flavour.

Question three, rising.  Dough generally needs one to one and a half hours of rising in a standard kitchen during ideal temperatures—which are warm, but the dough will rise in any above freezing temperatures.  I use my fridge for our pizza dough if I make it early enough, and I always get a great rise from my dough.  You are looking for a doubling in the total volume of your dough.  If you forget and it triples or quadruples, don’t worry, it’s okay.  With bread you want to “punch it down,” which isn’t so much punching the dough as it is kneading it more to get some of the air bubbles out.  In this resting phase, wheat flour develops its glutenous strands and gets that chewier texture.  Once you’ve raised your dough, you punch it down, then split it into the portions you want.  Then you let it rise a second time before baking.

And last, how do you know it is done? There are a few ways to learn.  One way I like is using a thermometer.  I look for a temperature range of 200F to 210F (93C to 98C).  I prefer this method only because it’s the most accurate.  But you can also use a toothpick.  If the toothpick comes out dry, the bread is done.  I highly recommend the thermometer, though.

Once your bread is done cooking, it is imperative to let it rest for 30 minutes at a minimum.  Longer is better, but 30 minutes will suffice.  For this recipe, though, you want to be able to handle the bread with your hands for a longer duration.  So, give it 45 minutes to be safe.  When it’s cooled down, you can cut off the top, do not cut it in half.  You want to remove about a two to three-inch diameter, circle then pull out the bread from inside.  Now you have extra bread to dip in your chilli.

Recipe time, let’s get to baking:

Bread Bowls


12g yeast
1 tbsp kosher salt
1.5 tsp sugar
18oz warm water
4tbsp olive oil
5.25-6 cups of flour
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp garlic powder

  • Add your yeast, salt, sugar, and water to a mixing bowl. Allow the yeast to bloom for 10 minutes.
  • Add the olive oil and start adding the flour.
  • Mix the dough on low speed until it starts to look homogeneous.
  • Add more flour if needed, turn the mixer to second or third speed and knead the dough for ten minutes.
  • Add the herbs close to the end and allow them to mix in for two to three minutes.
  • Remove the dough and dough hook, then spray the mixing bowl with non-stick spray.
  • Form the dough into a ball and add it to the bowl so it can rise until doubled.
  • Punch down the dough and form it into six balls of approximately equal portions.
  • Place the balls onto greased baking pans and set the oven temperature to 400F.
  • Allow the balls to rise for another 30 – 45 minutes.
  • Place the trays into the oven and cook them for approximately 15 – 20 minutes.
  • Using a thermometer, check the temperature; you are looking for 200F.
  • Allow the buns to cool for 30-45 minutes, then cut off the first ¼ of the bun.
  • Empty the contents, and then spoon in your chilli.
  • Eat it all and enjoy!