"Breaking bread together" gains a new meaning when you center a meal around these rustic pots and loaves. Dinner guests can enjoy literally tearing bread from the centerpiece and dipping it into a little olive oil or a hearty bowl of stew.
Assorted new terra-cotta pots
Vegetable cooking spray
5 (32-ounce) packages frozen bread dough, thawed in refrigerator
Wash terra-cotta pots thoroughly in hot soapy water or in dishwasher; let dry completely.
Trace the bottom of each pot onto parchment paper; cut out each shape, and place paper in bottom of each pot.
Coat insides of pots with cooking spray just before placing dough in each pot. (Pots will absorb cooking spray if left unused for any length of time.)
Place a portion of bread dough (large enough to fill pot half full) in each pot. (Work with one package of dough at a time, keeping remaining dough in refrigerator.) Coat tops of bread dough in pots with cooking spray.
Place pots, uncovered, on bottom rack of a cold oven. (For easy transport of smallest pots, group them together on a baking sheet for rising and baking.) Place a small pan of boiling water in oven. Close oven door, and let bread rise until doubled in bulk. (Rising times will vary based on size of pot.)
Remove pots of bread and pan of water from oven. Combine egg white and water; brush egg white mixture evenly over tops of loaves. Sprinkle loaves with desired toppings.
Bake pots of bread at 375° on bottom rack of oven until golden. (See chart at below for baking times.) Cool on wire racks. Run a sharp knife around edge of each loaf to loosen bread from pan.
Arrange assorted pots of bread on table, using a chenille throw or a piece of burlap as a table runner. Stack a few pots of bread on top of empty pots that have been turned upside down. Complete the centerpiece by adding seasonal fruit like kumquats, large branches of rosemary or greenery, and shafts of wheat tied with raffia.
Note: For our centerpiece, we used 5 packages of frozen bread dough and a combination of the terra-cotta pots listed below. You may wish to use different sizes and numbers of pots--just remember to fill each pot half full with bread dough ans to watch closely the rising and baking time of each.
Pot Size: 1 (9 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 5) planter Amount of Dough: 2 loaves Rising Time: about 1 hour and 15 minutes Baking Time: 40 minutes
Pot Size: 1 (8") round base Amount of Dough: 2 loaves Rising Time: 30 minutes Baking Time: 35 to 40 minutes
Pot Size: 1 (6") pot Amount of Dough: 1 loaf Rising Time: 20 minutes Baking Time: 30 minutes
Pot Size: 3 (41/20 pots) Amount of Dough: 3/4 loaf per pot Rising Time: 20 minutes Baking Time: 30 minutes
Pot Size: 7 (3") pots Amount of Dough: about 1/4 loaf per pot Rising Time: 15 to 20 minutes Baking Time: 20 to 25 minutes
Pot Size: 6 (2") pots Amount of Dough: 1 (1 1/2") ball per pot Rising Time: 15 to 20 minutes Baking Time: 20 to 25 minutes