It’s not too big a stretch to say my existence is build on bread and soup. Bread is sustenance, to be sure; it’s the staff of life. It’s also one of the foods that provides unending inspiration to me. I got so caught up yesterday with some bread I was working on that I lost track of time and ended up running my youngest to his tap lessons with my hair pulled back into a messy wad with an orange hair tie, no make-up on, mud-covered brown boots, wearing cuffed jeans and a parka. It didn’t matter, though, because the bread turned out great. I might look like a hot mess, but my bread is always well put together.
Forget matching shoes and belts and accessories and outfits, I like to match my bread to my meal. That’s my kind of accessorizing. For instance, I knew I was going to make fish chowder with that lovely Alaskan Cod I received a couple weeks ago. What do you serve with chowder or any soup, for that matter? Bread, of course. Since I knew the flavours of my chowder, I decided to echo them with the bread bowls I intended to use to hold the chowder. Is there anything more fun than a bowl you can eat and dunk into it’s own contents? Perhaps riding a unicorn over the rainbow might top the experience, but until that happens, I’m sticking with the far more achievable amusement of eating the bowl in which my soup was served.
In my mind, the perfect fish chowder starts with finely diced onions softened in butter, then moves onto both diced and grated potatoes simmering in white wine, and clam juice, and milk, then big pieces of cod and heavy cream cooked in the thick broth just until the fish is done. A big handful of chopped fresh dill is stirred in at the very end. That makes me sigh many happy, deep sighs.
Just about any bread is going to be grand with that, but adding onion, dill, and sour cream to the bread dough and making it into mini boule loaves (translation: little round loaves) that can either function as individual loaves or the actual vessels for the soup? Shoot. That’s enough to make me giddy. Granted, I don’t get out much, but still… I take joy where I can find it.
And I take massive joy in this bread. It is done in one hour from start to finish. ONE HOUR! This bread is no stress bread. It’s bread that beginning or fearful bakers can make easily. OH what a payoff!
Tender but chewy, studded with fragrant dill and onion, with a drizzle of olive oil and some coarse sea salt flakes on top, this bread is hard to beat as an edible vessel for fish, potato, or corn chowder, clam chowder, or potato leek soup. It’s also wonderful when sliced and buttered or toasted and served with eggs.
- In the recipe, I specify using 3 cups each of all-purpose and bread flour. While I prefer the loft the bread achieves with this mixture, you can substitute all of one or the other, depending on what is available to you. If you’re a beginning baker, I would like to point out that I do not recommending subbing in other varieties of flour in this recipe (whole wheat, pastry, self-rising, clear, spelt, etc…)
- This recipe can also be made in 2 large loaves rather than the 4 small ones as directed in the recipe.
- Because of the salt on the crust, I do not recommend storing the bread in plastic bags. They’re best stored at room temperature wrapped in a clean towel.
- The bread is best eaten the day it’s made, of course, but is also great for serving soups/chowders/stews for 48 hours after being made. If you’re going to slice and toast the bread, the window of quality is a day or two longer.