Sourdough Pretzel Bread Bowls
Most of us think of January as a fresh beginning, a month full of hope and new resolutions. But did you know that it is also National Soup Month? And as it should be considering here in Michigan there is plenty of winter to go after the first of the year.
With winter we love any excuse to get cozy and stay warm, especially those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to heat with wood. Nothing beats wood heat am I right??
So while I was dreaming of warm soup and filling the month with it, it occured to me that I should make bread bowls. But we all know I can’t make just any bread bowls.
First they’ll have to be sourdough because it’s the only way I bake. Secondly, I didn’t want a super crusty bread bowl because I get enough “crust” in my life with my artisan hearth loaves of sourdough.
If you aren’t familiar with sourdough you may wonder what all the hype about it is. You can check out my in depth post about the health benefits of sourdough in this post but I will summarize here for a quick overview.
Health Benefits of Sourdough Include…
- Easier digestion because the yeast and bacteria pre-digest some of the starch
- Lower amounts of gluten as the microbes break down some of it during their activity
- Less anti-nutrients such as phytic acid (check out this really awesome study)
- More bioavailable vitamins and minerals
- Does not spike glucose or insulin as much as un-soured bread (study)
Non-health Related benefits of Sourdough
In addition to the health benefits of sourdough there are a couple of benefits that have nothing to do with the health of our bodies. Such as:
- Less waste is produced when we don’t buy plastic wrapped commercial yeast
- A smaller carbon footprint is made with sourdough than the yeast that comes from a factory that uses nonrenewable resources
- Greater sustainability, what happens if you can’t get yeast from a store one day??
- Frugality. You never need to spend your hard earned money to buy yeast again!
What soup would you pair with these Sourdough Pretzel Bread Bowls with? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
Written by Ashley
The Making Of
Now that we have the why out of the way, let’s talk about the how.
This dough is just lovely to work with, comes together in a jiff and uses minimal ingredients. You’ll start with adding all the ingredients to a stand mixer (feel free to knead by hand if that’s your jam!) and knead for about 10-15 minutes or until the dough is very smooth and elastic feeling. It doesn’t really need to reach windowpane but it should be fairly well developed. The dough will just barely be sticky.
Then it is left to ferment for 8-12 hours or until it has doubled. If you have a warm home it may take less time, if you have a cold home it may take more time. Fermentation length depends on temperature.After the first ferment is up (we call this the bulk ferment), the dough is shaped into the bread bowls.
Once the bread is shaped into bowls, they are covered again and left for another 3-6 hours to proof. You’ll know when they are proved because they will be puffy and ever so slightly jiggly. After the proofing is up, boil them with baking soda for 1-2 minutes then bake them off!
It really is an easy, straightforward recipe that results in the most delicious Sourdough Pretzel Bread Bowls.
- 300g milk
- 120g active sourdough starter
- 420g all-purpose or bread flour
- 6g salt
- 15g sugar or honey
- ¼ cup baking soda
- Flaky sea salt
Long fermented for easier digestion and boiled with baking soda (no scary lye) as proper pretzels should be. Who doesn’t love an edible bowl, especially if it’s sourdough AND a pretzel?
As for soup pairings. Your heart can go wild with soup ideas to put in these bread bowls but might I suggest a cheeseburger soup? Or how about a broccoli cheese soup?? We made a Philly Cheesesteak Soup that I’ll share as a bonus below the Sourdough Pretzel Bread Bowl recipe. It was a crowd pleaser but you really can’t go wrong with these bread bowls!
Step by Step Instructions
Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with dough hook for 10-15 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. It will be just barely sticky and be balling up as it goes around the bowl. Alternatively, you can knead by hand in a bowl until the dough has come together, then turn out onto the counter to finish kneading.
Once dough has been mixed cover with a lid, plate or damp towel and leave at room temp to ferment for 8-12 hours or until doubled in size.
When dough has doubled turn out onto an unfloured counter. Cut the dough into pieces and weigh out 150g balls of dough, you should get about five balls.
Shape the pieces of dough into balls by pinching all corners of the dough to center then flipping over and using your hands to round the ball. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and dusted with cornmeal.
When all the dough has been shaped, cover again (I like to use a clean garbage bag) and leave for 3-6 hours to proof. Proofing is done when the dough is puffy and ever so slightly jiggly.
After proofing has finished bring a stock pot of water to boil and add the ¼ cup of baking soda. Preheat oven to 400*f. Place 2-3 dough balls in the pot for 1-2 minutes, flipping each ball about halfway through. I find it easiest to cut the parchment that the dough balls are on into individual pieces around each ball, then pick up the dough ball on the parchment and drop it into the water using the parchment. Use a slotted spoon to lift dough out of the boiling water and place on a freshly lined baking sheet.
When all of the dough has been boiled slash each dough ball with a sharp knife or bread lame to allow for rising. Brush some of the baking soda water on each ball and top with sea salt.
Place in the oven to bake for 20-30 minutes or until they are nicely browned and smell done. Let cool then cut a hole in the top of each one and use a spoon to hollow it out. Serve the top and insides on the side to dip into the soup. Enjoy your sourdough pretzel bread bowls!
I began my sourdough journey as a way to root myself to a simple, ancestral morning tradition. I’d fallen into the nasty habit of starting every day with my cell phone and overwhelming amounts of not-so-mindful content. I felt drained before I’d even gotten out of bed.
Our gift of instant internet connectedness has a very valuable place in our communities, but we also need to balance such connectivity by tending to ourselves, our families, and our homes so we can make healthy decisions and differences once we step outside.
Baking bread became my way of anchoring to a tangible schedule void of screens and distance. It provided a necessary dedication to something greater than my own immediate satisfaction. Steady, consistent, delicious sourdough helped break through my involuntary evolution into a morning tech-addict and allowed me to focus my mind on the present. My hope is that by sharing my routine, sourdough baking can do the same for you.
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