The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Is a good banneton really necessary?

Biffbread's picture

Is a good banneton really necessary?

I am about to switch from baking in my Zojirushi bread maker to just using it to knead and proof the bread, then baking it in the oven. Should I even proof it in the ZO machine or just do it outside? Is a good banneton really necessary? Any advice to help me make the transition from ZO dependency would be greatly appricated! :)

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Bannetons and brotforms are convenient but with a little ingenuity, you can substitute common household stuff to do the same thing.

I'm not the first and won't be the last to use a colander, a small basket, or a small bowl lined with a smooth towel or even a clean cloth diaper as a proofing tool. Codruta posted her suggestion about using a large supermarket paper bag as form. I just rolled up some towels for each side of the bag, placed some parchment paper in between the towels, and placed the dough for proofing there. It's not the most elegant application but it works easily enough and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Just make sure you arrange to keep the dough from drying out. I've used that idea several times so just about everybody should be able to do it as well.

If you plan on baking as a business, the bannetons will give a consistent appearance that customers want. When you're baking at home, you'll have more leeway so go ahead and experiment.

dabrownman's picture

about 20 baskets,  it really is an illness, that I have purchased at Goodwill for 50 cents to a dollar each.  I try to find ones that are made of hard materials like cane, wicker or bamboo rather than soft ones.  Soft ones tend to stick but they are fine with a cloth.  You can rice flour them up or use a floured smooth cloth, not terry cloth, if you don't want the dough touching the basket and want to keep it cleaner.   We get all kinds of great shapes and patterns on the dough this way and no arm or leg is required to buy them.  Here is a picture of some of them I found in the garage.  Hve made bread in all of them - no worries!

Happy baking

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... verily thou art a Bannetonoholic!

All at Sea



dabrownman's picture
dabrownman is so much worse than what you see.  How can anyone say no to a basket to make bread in that consts 50 cents?  I can't :-)  We must be up to 30 by now.  My wife took somne to work to make room at home now that the garage is full  !

foodslut's picture

.... even if you want nice patterns on your bread (as dabrownman shows). I baked a loooooot of bread before I even bought my first banneton.

Cool accessory?  Yes, but there are other options if you want patterns, and if you don't want the patterns, you can shape your bread without them and get good results.


dabrownman's picture

After starting to bae bread in 1973 it wasn't until 2012 that I needed a basket - thanks to TFL ;-)

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

So, I figured that my breads don't come out so great because I don't have a politically correct banneton.  Little did I know that I could use really anything for a proofing basket.  So, I went to Paris, France, and I found Poilane bakery and bought one of their very expensive linen lined proofing baskets, and a bread knife.  So far, I'm too busy to make bread.  But, when I do, I'll let you know if it made any difference....probably not...but, I can dream can't I?

proth5's picture

do not the baker make - but it sometimes enhances the experience to have beautiful tools with an interesting provenance.

That being said - the "brotform" is the coiled wicker (or simulated coiled wicker done in plastic) container used to imprint a pattern.

A banneton is simply a container (most often a basket) that is most often lined to hold proofing bread.

The purpose of a banneton is to give support to the rising bread.  This is useful in cases where one is working with more delicate grains such as rye or "local" wheats (not good old hard red winter wheat) or is employing a technique such as long cold proofing.  In these cases the extra support helps the loaf retain its shape even when the gluten becomes more fragile.

They are by no means required - as others have already said.  Just dropping in with the "whys"...

I would not proof in the Zo - since proofing is done after shaping.  The temperatures in the Zo are just a bit high for my taste for bulk fermentation (aka, "rising" in Zo terms), but you still might want to do the fermentation there - but not the final proofing.

Happy Baking!

hanseata's picture

Before I bought my first banneton, I also used cheap baskets with a kitchen towel. The only thing that you have to keep in mind when you buy those baskets - the rim should not become narrower. I found some really nice ones in an Asia store and realized only later, that their shape made it difficult to turn the dough out.




Colin2's picture

For small round loaves, a sieve will work as the support.  For long loaves, the support can be made of 1/4" metal mesh from the hardware store, which you can cut and shape to suit.  I had some left over after bird-proofing my eaves.

The trick is to support the loaf without sticking to it, which means good enough air circulation on the bottom and sides that the dough develops a slight skin.  Hence basket or mesh plus a smooth, airy towel.

Even with loaves that don't need the support, I find that an impromptu banneton takes up less room in the kitchen than a wide peel.  This is especially helpful if there is more than one loaf awaiting baking.