The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bannetons in France?

Rick D's picture
Rick D

Bannetons in France?

Maybe someone can enlighten me here. I had the grand idea of finding some lovely bannetons, both new and antique, during a recent trip to France. Well, I searched far and wide throughout Paris and Beaune. Not only did I not encounter a single banneton, but most persons I asked, whether it be at a boulangerie or antique dealer had no clue what a banneton was or how it was used. Furthermore, I noted that none of the breads for sale at the boulangeries seemed to have been risen in a banneton. Are they essentially a thing of the past in France, and if so, how can they make the breads they do w/o them, particularly high water content breads? There were a couple of people that knew what I was asking for (and yes, I was speaking in French), but most had no idea.


--Rick

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

If you are thinking of bannetons that leave the coiled designs on breads, from your experience, they evidently must not be very popular there.


All bannetons don't leave designs on the loaves. In fact, it seems that the terminology is evolving such that the molds that leave the coiled designs are referred to as brotforms, and the molds or baskets that don't leave designs are usually called bannetons. I believe either term can refer to either type.


Anyway, there is a large company that seems to have originated in France, that manufactures/distributes bannetons here in the US, called Matfer Bourgeat. They make/sell all sorts of bakeware and cookware. Their US/internet presence is actually called www.culinarycookware.com which has their entire catalog of products. They carry several woven basket and plastic bannetons. Not the coiled type though.(ps: Further perusal of their website shows they do sell the coiled wicker baskets.)


You might contact them, or Matfer through their contact links to see if the products are available in France. Would be sort of odd if they were not available there(but not unbelievable). 

Barbara Krauss's picture
Barbara Krauss

On a visit to Paris about 3 years ago I checked out the famous Dehillerin kitchen supplies store and was shocked at the price of a linen-lined banneton -- close to 60 Euro!  

handymanchef's picture
handymanchef

Even though I am British, I have lived in France for over nine years.

I also have recently become interested in using Bannetons.  I started asking around at my local boulangerie, of which there are many - almost one in every village and I had the same experience as Rick D, nobody seemed to know what I meant, even though I spoke to them in French.

In the end I did a bit of Googling and found a company called Bread Matters - owned and run by Andrew Whitley, an extremely knowledgable guy who has written an amazing book called "Bread Matters".  They sell Bannetons in all different sizes and shapes.  This is the link to their bannetons http://www.breadmatters.com/proving-baskets.htm

I have bought 4 bannetons from them and used them only twice.  They are made from wood pulp and so far are fantastic to work with.  The only drawback I can see is that they are a bit more expensive than the German company and the shipping costs to France from Scotland were a fair bit over 17 GBP!

If I need any more, I will try the Greman company next time.

I am having a problem when I turn my dough out onto a baking tray - when I turn the proven dough onto the baking tray to put it in the oven - they 'Sink' a bit before I can get them into the oven.  After talking to Andrew Whitley, it transpires, that I am over-proving the dough a bit and should get the breads in the oven a bit sooner.

All the best with your Banneton search.

 

Jaydot's picture
Jaydot

When I started looking for bannetons, I started looking (online) in France too, and just like you I was surprised that I couldn't find them. Perhaps in France they simply use any woven basket with a linnen teatowel of sorts - at least that's what I've seen in a lot of video's about French bakeries.


I found and ordered mine from Germany, from Brotformen, they have the coiled ones and forms made out of wood pulp, which work very well. They are not expensive (though the prices are ex 19% VAT), but I suppose shipping to the US would cost a pretty penny.


Very nice people, though, and they speak English.

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

some even have designs.  Mini are you seeing the one with the Aehren ? Reminded me of your clay baker a bit.


 


anna

DavidR's picture
DavidR

I've bought a linen-lined woven wicker banneton from le Pain Quotidien in London; I'd expect them to be available in France too. If you go to their web-site on the flash animation there's a picture of a row of loaves proofing in them. (http://www.lepainquotidien.co.uk/#/en_UK/about/boulangerie)


However, if you're looking for a brotform that has a coiled wooden construction which imparts a pattern to a loaf then I would doubt you'd find such a thing easily in France. It seems to me that using those is an American fashion; I see lots breads baked in that style on this web-site, and yet I've never, ever bought such a loaf in the UK or France. And I've been to quite a few artisan bakeries!


I have read that there are fewer home bakers in France, presumably because good quality bread is readily available from the boulangeries. So there wouldn't be as much demand for home baking equipment.

Rick D's picture
Rick D

I can see your point with the less demand for home baking in France. One kind Madam at a boulangerie in Paris found it amusing that I was not a professional baker but looking for baking equipment.  


--Rick

rocketbike's picture
rocketbike

Brotforms not used in the UK?  You'd be surprised.  Take a look at


http://www.townmillbakery.com/book_daily_bread.php


for example.


R.

Rick D's picture
Rick D

Great links from all above. Thanks! The idea was hopefully to avoid shipping costs to the US, but it looks like I've got several resources now.


Cheers,


--Rick

blaargh's picture
blaargh

Hey Rick, there are tons of places online to order bannetons in the US. Here's a quick search on Amazon.


Search the forums here, or google it, but you don't need to go to europe for bannetons.


HTH

Rick D's picture
Rick D

I'm able to buy bannetons at local (San Francisco Bay area) merchants, but I thought it'd be nice to find something in France that I couldn't get on Amazon. However, perhaps in 2010 I just have to accept it, bubble wrap and all....


--Rick

Chuck's picture
Chuck

A couple decades ago I was in Chantilly, France, and asked the locals about "lace". I expected some eye rolls and some mutterings about "stupid tourists". Instead I got completely blank looks, followed eventually by the French equivalent of "what the h--- is he talking about?"


On the same trip I tried to order in restaurants the same kind of food Julia Child acquainted me with. I quickly found such "authenticity" couldn't be had anywhere, except at prices many tens of times higher than a "regular" meal.


The last straw was ordering a "croque-monsieur" in a roadside cafe, and being served something that looked like a poor rendition of an American grilled cheese sandwich. It seemed to contain a slice of baloney and a slice of processed "cheese" between two pieces of very-foamy bleached-white sandwich bread.

Rick D's picture
Rick D

Both in rural France and in Paris, I found the people to be warm, friendly, and nothing like the worn out sterotypes of the past. As in any locale, particularly a city, there are going to be some jerks, but as a whole, even in Paris where the locals have to put up with throngs of rude tourists daily, the French people were wonderful.


As to the food, I can just say this: spectacular! (my frame of reference is San Francisco, which is no slouch)

blaargh's picture
blaargh

I did the same search early on when I started and realized it was much less expensive to buy local or online. All of the reasons here make a lot of sense. If I get some free time I might give a go at making my own - my daughter wants a skull + crossbones on the bread instead of the sun imprint I have now. sheesh - 10 yr olds... If I don't get around to bending some cane, I might just buy a blank (the SF institute link had some pretty inexpensive rounds) and rout the bottom. If there's a special design you want and you're good with a dremmel, that might be a way to go...

Rick D's picture
Rick D

Do you think a 2  1/2 HP router would be too much?


Maybe I'll get a dremmel and work on my fine motor skills.


--Rick

blaargh's picture
blaargh

Heh, I know you're kidding about the router... but... :)


I'd have to check out how they're put together (at work now) but I'm sure you could pry off the bottom wood disk whether it's glued or nailed. Come up with a fun jig, use a 1/4" bit, try very hard to keep your fingers... it could work.


Just as an aside... when I was in college I used to sneak into the wood shop to build a guitar. The router there was horrible and every few minutes the bit would loosen and go flinging across the room. It's a wonder I'm still around AND still have all my digits...

paulm's picture
paulm

A great  source of bannetons is the San Francisco Baking Institute :


http://www.sfbi.com  (select the 'purchase artisnal baking supplies link on the left panel).


A side benefit is that a portion of each purchase goes towards student scholarships.  These are the best prices I have found for most of the various artisnal baking supplies they sell.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

If you are looking for unusual shapes, Fantes has a nice selection of well made forms.

ww's picture
ww

i agree that, contrary to what one might think, bakeware in shops in paris can be shockingly expensive. I looked at the online catalogue of some well-known shops before and prices of bannetons are really high. The way to go, i think, is online for shops that cater to professionals

Zeb's picture
Zeb

and yes they are expensive, mainly because they are a craft product made in France by French people on French wages (not in China).


 


Google Vannerie and you will find them if you are curious. They are imported to the UK by Bakery Bits, I don't know if anyone imports them to the US.


 


'Brotform' is a german word meaning bread form, mostly the German ones are made of coiled cane, but there are also wood pulp ones and plastic ones. A 'banneton' is the French term.   French bannetons are traditionally woven of wicker or osier and often lined with linen.


 


Hope this helps :)

Rick D's picture
Rick D

Thanks Zeb, good resource. I'll have to see about contacting them next time I'm in France. The shipping costs to the US are a bit prohibitive.


--Rick

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and they get brittle with time.  Finding an antique would be next to impossible.  Why?    There have been two world wars in Europe with wood and fuel shortages not to mention households turned upside down or blown away?  I understand that before cane baskets, straw or grass baskets were used which have an even shorter life span and make good fire starting material.  The straw/grass baskets can still be purchased (sold more for serving bread) and make satisfactory banettons for dough.     Interesting surface.



How long would an old basket live if there were wood burning ovens nearby?  Lets throw in some very cold record breaking winters.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Banneton in American English?


or Banetton in Great Britain and France?


One might get more French hits in a search engine with tt.   :)

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

The Euro/French corportion Matfer-Bourgeat that makes and sells them spells it banneton.

ww's picture
ww

actually if you travel to SE asia, you'll be likely to come across all sorts of cane baskets (and furniture). I always thought they would make good proofing baskets - at a tiny fraction of the price in Europe ;)