It’s often easy to assume something we eat today has either always been available or is a new innovation when in fact the opposite is true. That’s what I learned about today’s topic: bread bowls.
Apparently, bowls have been made out of bread for a long time. I thought they were something invented during my life time but discovered in this article about plating food they’ve been around since the Middle Ages. Good news for my cook in The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn who uses them to serve his renowned chicken chowder to the inn’s guests.
But how do you make a bread bowl? The article above cited that they used scooped out dried bread to make a trencher or bowl. What about in modern times? Of course, the recipe and technique needed to be something that could have been done in the 1820s, the time period of my story. So I looked for simple ingredients and steps and found what I was looking for at BreadWorld.com. I don’t detail the ingredients in my story, by the way, because those details didn’t enhance the story. But I did use the techniques.
In my story, Cassie Fairhope makes the bread bowls for Sheridan as you can see in this short excerpt:
The sticky mass of bread dough shuddered with each pounding. Cassie lifted an edge and folded it over, mashing her hands into the springy substance again and again. Kneading dough helped relieve her self-deprecation and grief. Something had to help release the tension coiled inside her gut.
“Don’t try to kill the bread dough.” Hannah chuckled from her side of the large work table where she shredded a roasted chicken into bite-size pieces. “It can’t fight back.”
“Ha, ha.” Cassie folded the dough and punched it down. Then divided it into pieces to shape into several small round loaves. Leave it to Hannah to poke the sore spot in her heart.
Cassie glanced over to the Marple sisters, their plain hickory brown dresses and white aprons displaying the amount of effort they put into their work, busily scrubbing potatoes and carrots. She appreciated the hard-working older sisters who lived down the road and showed up every morning at dawn to help ready the fruits and vegetables for the day’s menu. A large black kettle hung over the fire, steam rising in a steady column up the chimney. The chicken chowder had become a favorite for the midday repast. Sheridan would arrive before long to combine the ingredients with his signature touch of herbs and spices.
Hannah pinned her with a slight frown pulling on her brows. “I was joking. I’m sorry if you thought otherwise.”
Cassie patted a piece of dough into a slightly flattened ball and then pulled on the top to make a knob which would serve as a handle for the lid of the bread bowl. Pressing her lips together to prevent saying something she’d regret, she placed the loaf on the wooden paddle in preparation to slide the dough into the heated brick oven. Even with the windows open, the heat from both the cook fire and the hot bread oven had everyone glistening with perspiration.
Snagging another lump of dough, she shot a quelling glance at Hannah. “It’s been a difficult day.”
Once the bread is baked to a crusty goodness and cooled, then she’d use a sharp knife to cut off the top third of each loaf and hollow the bottom out. Then the chowder would be put inside and the top replaced to keep the contents hot until it’s served.
I haven’t tried this myself, but I am tempted to. Perhaps this fall when the temps cool around here from the 90s… I used to bake bread for my family rather than buying it but lately my time is better spent researching, writing, and reading.
Have you baked bread? Are you tempted like me to try making bread bowls?
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Innkeeper’s daughter Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. But in northern Alabama in 1821 marriage is her only escape. Even so, she has a plan: Seduce the young man acting as innkeeper while her father is away and marry him. He’s handsome and available. Even though he has no feelings for her, it is still a better option than enduring her mother.
But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. Securing his reputation in the hostelry business and earning his father’s respect are far more important. He did not count on having to deal with horse thieves and rogues in addition to his guests.
When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint must do whatever it takes to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who has no intention of leaving…