The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

hydration for bench proving

dazzer24's picture

hydration for bench proving

Hi there

I've been making loaves using bannetons with some success(and some failures!). I've been using about 67/68% hydration- I do struggle to 'tighten' the dough enough to keep a good shape if I go any wetter=just the simple problem of everything sticking. I appreciate this might be viewed as a relatively low hydration for sourdough but I'm still learning;)

I wanted to try and shape a batard so went down to 60% hydration and found it much easier to tighten and shape the dough. I just sat the finished loaf on the counter for its final prove which in the end was probably only about 90 mins-I normally prove much longer but was concerned the loaf would spread too much. How would one normally prove a batard? In a couche? This I imagine would help retain height but if I'm only doing one loaf at a time there is nothing for it to sit up against..

Is it generally accepted that a batard, or other shapes not proved in a banneton, need to be lower hydration.... or do I just need to keep practicing?;)

One final question- how to people season banneton to prevent or minimise sticking? I've been loading them with rye flour but it ends up coating the loaf a little too heavily. I then clean the banneton completely and repeat for the next loaf. Should I be leaving the flour in and trying to create a skin, patting the  flour in to create a layer? I read somewhere about painting the banneton with a flour water paste and letting it dry?

Thanks in advance for any input and apologies if I'm asking too many questions!


dazzer24's picture

Hello Albert

Thanks for your advice. I'll take it onboard. I do need to be patient too-shaping is clearly a skill thats developed over months and years rather than days and weeks.

I'm using cane bannetons if that makes any difference.

Thanks again


dwfender's picture

I haven't used it myself but many bread enthusiasts say rice flour is great for dusting bannetons etc. It won't develop gluten the way wheat flour will. Over time your banneton will definitely develop a petina. 


LisaE's picture

Hello dazzer,

Welcome to the fresh loaf! I recently got two bannetons (Christmas presents!) Then I thought what do I do now! I found the below link helpful. Do not clean the bannetons often. Leave the remaining flour on them. I read that AP flour or semolina are good to use, I found the semolina flour gives a crunchier crust. Check the link below, hope it helps!


dabrownman's picture

not even the white on rice will stick to it :-)  Use it all the time for even cheap baskets from Goodwill and no worries with rice flour!  Your batard looks very good.  You have points!  What does the crumb look like at 60% hydration?

Nice baking,

LisaE's picture

Imma have to try that stuff!

dazzer24's picture

Hi Guys

Thanks for the comments. Crumbs not too bad...not that open but edible-and thats a success, to some degree, I would say! I think the denser crumb comes as much from my novice like tightening and shaping of the dough. It was left to rise without support and so inevitably even at 60% its spread a little. Im in the middle of trying to work out a routine where I can leave the dough to rise really slowly overnight as I love prepping in the evening and baking the following morning-only managed to do it by refrigerating the dough though. The method initially started with advocates 10 to 15 hours of proving after shaping at warm room temp!. My dough seems to rise in a 1/3 of that time. So clearly left sitting around without any support for hours rather than minutes its going to spread a little!