Having worked at Perkins, I have made a lot of bread bowls for chef's
salads and chilli bowls. The bowls come to Perkins restaurant in boxes
of 40. Inside the box are units of dough that I refer to as cow pies.
I lay them out on a sheet pan until softened in a proofing box, then,
with a spray release, I cover either a small, inverted stainless steel
bowl for the chef's salad, or an inverted porcelain chilli bowl, and
spread the dough as evenly as possible over the top. I wet my hands
with a whole egg wash while forming, then bake in a 375 degree oven
for 12-15 minutes. The dough is labeled 'Italian bread bowl', but this
is not Italian bread that I am dealing with. It's more like a pizza
dough that has oil in it. I think that pizza dough would be a good
choice, personally, as long as you use at least some oil. Straight
French or Italian bread would likely be rather crisp.
At home I have also tried making a pizza dough, forming it into 12 oz.
balls, egg washing with a whole egg, and baking. After baking and
cooling I merely cut a circle aroung the top and rip out the excess
dough. That way you can have your soup and have something like soft
croutons to put in. One extra step That I have also taken was to put
the excess dough in the pan and lightly brown it in the oven, That
way, I have better style croutons. One way or the other, I prefer the
home made dough MUCH better than the restaurant stuff.
Good luck. Dan Champaign, Il