Baking Bread and Handmade Pottery

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I’ve mentioned before that I lack skills for baking bread. I can come up with creative ideas and I can knead and shape dough like nobody’s business, but when it comes to pulling a light, fluffy, crusty loaf out of the oven I fail just about every time.

However, something is telling me that my luck may improve in 2011.

Way back in August, I went to the Woodland Art Festival. A fantastic event, by the way, if you happen to be in the area when it is hosted. There were booths full of handmade pottery and I’m quickly learning that this may be my new thing. I find pottery so interesting – both how it is made and the gorgeous end products.

About halfway through my browsing I found these bread baking bowls from Neal Pottery out of Lebanon, OH. I simply could not pass them up so I bought one for myself and one for my mom which we just gave to her for Christmas.

There are two reasons that this piece of functional art is so outstanding. It is super easy to use when making bread and it makes a small amount. Just about right for 2 to 3 people.

Mine has been sitting in the cabinet all autumn, but my mom was on the ball as soon as she received hers. She also happens to be an expert baker, if I haven’t mentioned it before, so it was no surprise that her loaf turned out great.

I wasn’t convinced that I would have success, but I thought it was about time I attempted. Since we had pasta for NYE, I decided to bake a loaf to serve with our olive oil and herb dipping sauce.

The baking bowl came with 8 recipes, some more complicated than others. I decided to take the recipe that was originally for Greek olive bread and omit the added ingredients. So basically, I wanted to make a loaf of unbleached white bread. I also added a little bit of sugar, because I have a hard time grasping bread recipes without sugar to feed the yeast and have little success with them.

The steps are so simple. Mix the bread dough, knead the dough by hand for a few minutes, place it back in the oiled mixing bowl, rise for an hour. Punch down, knead again for a few minutes, place in the oiled bread baking bowl, let rise to double.

Bake for 45 minutes and viola! It turned out perfectly! It was a really unexpected surprise given my history with bread.

If you need bread for two, this is a great option. You could easily substitute a small loaf pan or a casserole dish or large ramekin for the bread bowl. However, if you come across one of these bowls, it is a great buy. It bakes some great bread and looks darn cute sitting out in the kitchen.

Basic White Bread in a Bread Baking Bowl

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour, plus extra for kneading
1 1/2 tsp olive oil, plus extra for the bowl
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 pkg dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp mascavo sugar

In a small bowl combine the yeast, water and sugar. Let sit a few minutes until it blooms. In a bowl, mix the flour, olive oil and salt. Add the water with the yeast and mix until dough is formed. Add a more water by the tsp if it is too dry. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 2 or 3 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a clean dish towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Place the dough on a floured surface, punch down and knead for about 2 to 3 more minutes. Roll into a ball. Lightly oil the baking bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with a dish towel and let rise until doubled in size again.

Place the bread and baking bowl in a cold oven, set the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for about 45 minutes. Mine was perfect right when the timer went off.

I checked out the Neal Pottery website and they have started selling some of their products (bread baking bowls included) on their Etsy site. You can check them out there if you are interested, or check out their art show appearance listing to purchase one in person.
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  1. says

    Ok, has bread EVER been any cuter than this? Your post reminded me of a gift from my Mother in Law years ago. It was a small glazed flower pot that came with bread mix. Same idea as this (just not as cute). What a splendid idea and I love the size!

  2. says

    Your bread turned out absolutely beautifully! I love handmade pottery so I wouldn’t have been able to turn down buying one of those lovely bowls either. :) Wishing you and yours a very happy New Year!

  3. says

    I love this idea. I love to bake bread, but I will confess, I cheat. I use a bread machine. Heck, I use the bread machine any time I can. I use it for dough for stuff all the time too. I almost need to around here because the concrete house we live in is awful with temps and I can never get the dough to rise on the counter.

  4. says

    Wow! Those little bread baking bowls/pots are such a great idea. The bread looks like it turned out perfect! I think there is nothing like a homemade loaf

  5. says

    Your bread couldn’t have turned out any more perfect! I am intrigued by these bowls! My Mom has been baking bread almost every day for weeks now – I bet she would love these.

  6. says

    Bread baking is at the top of my list of challenges for 2011! The few times I’ve ‘baked’ bread, it was with the help of a bread machine, which I suppose really doesn’t count. But you’ve encouraged me to give it a go. I just wish I had one of these lovely pieces of pottery…!

  7. says

    The pottery is beautiful and I love that it serves an important function in making delicious breads. I recently got into baking breads, and I think this would really step up the quality.

  8. says

    TasteHongKong – Yes, let’s hope so!

    Boulder Locavore – I have to admit they are so cute. :)

    Michelle – Thanks!

    Magic of Spice – It worked for me so I think it could for anyone! :)

    Faith – Happy New Year! I love that this is functional pottery.

    cathy – Yes! I had some unbleached white to use up from the holidays, but I’ve used white whole wheat since and it turned out great.

    Mindy – Thanks!

    emily- That is usually our problem with standard loaves. It lasts way too long.

    Sagan – It’s a great way to do it!

    Marianne – Yes, for sure!

    kat – Thanks! I was pleased.

    Melinda – I’ve been thinking about getting one for a while. Hopefully I’ll continue to have success though, but that is the next best option.

    5 Star – Thanks!

    Joanne – Let’s hope so.

    Erica – I thought they were a great idea too. Nice serving size.

    Reeni – Thanks! Wow, that is quite an undertaking.

    Juliana – Happy New Year

    TN – I’m to the point myself where I think it counts. ;)

    FLB – I know, I love that it is functional and not just a piece I would set out. Although, it is beautiful set out too. I bet you are creating some wonderful things!