Bannetons: cane vs wood pulp vs plastic
Happy New Year all.
After a decade of stubbornly adhering to my aesthetic preference for "free-form" batards, I have decided to make the move to bannetons. It's basically a matter of practicality, but to avoid boring readers I'll refrain from elaborating.
I have a question. In my understanding, one of the main benefits of traditional cane bannetons is to allow the shaped dough to "breathe" while proofing. However, I note that on the Birnbaum Brotformen website it is recommended that amateur bakers choose wood pulp bannetons.
I would prefer wood pulp because it is made from European spruce, whereas the cane used for bannetons is imported from Indonesia. It is claimed that the cane is sustainably grown, but there is still the carbon footprint issue. I know my purchase of a banneton is beyond petty in the environmental scheme of things, but it's a matter of principle for me.
That said, I have some questions about wood pulp. Maybe informed readers can assist.
- I assume some sort of glue or binding agent is used in the process of making wood pulp. Anyone know what it is?
- How can wood pulp allow the dough to "breathe" as cane apparently does (I assume due to air penetration through the tiny gaps between the cane).
- Is this alleged "breathing" really at all significant during the proofing process? My current free-form loaves do their proofing between blocks of wood inside a plastic container with the lid on, and therefore do not "breathe", yet they're terrif if I get the proofing time right.
A final question: if, as claimed on the Birnbaum site, wood pulp brotformen are a better choice for amateur bakers, I'm thinking plastic would be just as good and more durable. Assuming a wood pulp banneton does not allow dough to "breathe", and plastic does (at least, going by pictures of the ones Burnbaum sell), it strikes me that plastic might indeed be the best choice of all (not sure where that leaves my "principles"!!). Any informed views on plastic as a choice vs the other options?