The rise of bowls

For my Mom, an important part of bread baking was the choice of the rising bowl. I remember her explaining that the bowl should have thick enough sides to retain warmth and enough steepness to encourage a good rise from the dough. When she passed away, I inherited two of her pottery bowls which have become part of the small but growing collection of bowls I use for bread baking. In this post, I pay respect to the potters who created the bowls that are part of my weekly baking adventures.

The Blue Bowl & the Brown Bowl


In the About section of this site, I wrote about why I chose the name Blue Bowl Breads: “When my family lived in Issaquah, Washington, my Mom discovered a potter named Ty Olson (pictured at left) who sold her several large pottery bowls over the years. My Mom loved his bowls for their quality, heat retention, beauty, and utility. Of all of the bowls, the big blue one was my Mom’s favorite (she even used it as a prop for her promo photos).”

I found mention of her love of Ty’s bowls as far back as 1985 in an old newspaper clipping. I don’t know when Mom got the big blue bowl, but there’s a good chance it has been part of our family for over three decades. The brown bowl, also by Ty Olson, has been with us just as long and I use it just as much. Because the blue bowl is bigger and showier, it gets top billing in my kitchen however.

The blue bowl… ideal for double loaf yeast bread recipes:

The brown bowl… for small batches – especially sourdough which needs steeper sides:

The white bowl


Bobby Hubble, an old friend of my wife, gave us this bowl as a wedding present. The bowl was made by Jonathan Woodward (at left), owner of Clinton Pottery in Clinton, New York. I have learned that Jonathan’s son, Alexander, works with his dad in the studio. I wonder if Alexander feels the kind of pride I feel in being part of a family tradition – one started by a parent. Becca and I have been married for 20 years (which I love writing by the way!), so the white bowl has been a long-time fixture alongside the other more senior bowls.

The white bowl… is often in use with the blue bowl when I make more than one recipe.

The Roz Bowl


Grammy Roz (Zimmerman) is the matriarch of my wife’s Mom’s side of the family. She is a dancing, singing, picture painting, jewelry making, joke telling, potter (but not necessarily in that order) whose sly wit and infectious smile have been hallmarks of our family gatherings since forever. Roz signed her bowl “Rozimm” with two m’s – which I understand makes this an older piece from her collection. Her newer work is signed “Rozim” with one m. I can’t remember when this bowl appeared in our kitchen, but it was only recently that I started using it for rising single loaf dough.

The inside of the bowl is mesmerizing. I could swear the blue ring surrounding the brown central circle somehow radiates. Perhaps Roz has imbued this bowl with some her magical charm!

The Roz bowl… is my go to bowl for small experimental hand-mixed loaves.

Mark Oppenneer

Mark pretends to be many things.