"Let my people go!" Or, How to Promote the Orderly Exodus of Proofed Loaves from Bannetons
Don't wait for Pharoah's heart to soften - use these tricks.
My loaves used to stick in their bannetons when it was time to turn them over into the dutch oven. This is disruptive to the structure they get from shaping, and makes their scoring ineffective. I do a few things now to make sure this doesn't happen.
While the oven is preheating, I work a thin, flexible, curved spatula around the sides of the banneton, un-sticking the loaves where they might be stuck. This loosens up excess flour, which adheres to the recently un-stuck parts. I also pack flour into the top rings of the banneton so that it's available to knock down from the sides if necessary. Gently tilting the banneton is a good way to reach a little further and check all the way down the sides.
It would be a bad idea to use a spatula with the wrong shape or rigidity - this would deflate the loaf or rough up its exterior.
This is the spatula: https://www.tovolo.com/product/flex-core-wood-handled-jar-scraper-2/
It's a 7" round banneton.
Other crucial tips:
Rice flour, 1:1 or even 2:1. I have used brown and white rice flours, and while I can't say whether one is more or less sticky, I prefer white because it sparkles.
On the bench, give the loaves a good dust and rub of flour on their tops after shaping. Perhaps at the same time that you do a few "drags" across the bench to round out the loaves.
A fine mesh sieve dusts loaves and bannetons more evenly than your fingers can. Small, conical ones are super handy.
Proof the loaves somewhere with low humidity and, ideally, air circulation.
The center, or bottom, of the bannetons get the heaviest dusting of flour before the loaves go in, because that spot is not easily reached with my spatula. The excess flour tends to cake in spots on the top of the loaf. Ideally, the loaf would either (1) come out with a consistent ring of caked flour in that nice spiral pattern, or (2) come out with no caked flour, in which case I could just give it a fresh coat of dust. Suggestions welcome.