The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Basic proofing basket question

fupjack's picture

Basic proofing basket question

I've seen instructions to use bannetons/brotforms, and seen people use them - but I don't know the reasoning for them.  I understand that they're for letting dough rise, but I've never seen an explanation of why you'd pick willow or linen-lined or whatever material.  They usually talk about airflow, but I though the ridges or linen were more designed to hold the flour on the sloped sides of the bowl.

Can someone with experience shed light on this for me?

(my next step is to buy some)

East Coast Crust's picture
East Coast Crust

I could be mistaken, but I think that a big part of it is aesthetics :D Also I think they're useful for absorbing some excess moisture in the exterior of the dough to promote a crackly-er crust, and they're helpful because the shape of a banneton as it supports the sides of the dough well to let it get more vertical height.

As far as linen lined vs. the willow/wicker baskets, I think that's just a matter of which is easier to get the dough out of for you and which visual appeal you want. I imagine that a linen cloth lining absorbs a certain amount more moisture from the dough but it would be interesting to see a side by side comparison. I personally love my wicker bannetons, I got a 2 pack from amazon for about 20 dollars that each hold a ~900g boule. I have had success with kitchen towel-lined mixing bowls and just plain old oiled mixing bowls as well or proofing in a couche, it seems like theres no "wrong" way to go about it. Hope that helps.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I use very inexpensive wicker baskets from a shop in Chinatown, lined with floured cotton napkins. They work great. The napkins (like the ridiculously expensive bannetons) absorb excess moisture and keep the 'skin' of the boule tight, and the baskets provide support for slack doughs so they don't spread too much. It's also easy to enclose the whole thing in a plastic bag so you can proof the boule overnight in the fridge without it drying out too much.

The bannetons do make a nice pattern on the bread but I think the bread looks just fine without the pattern. :)

Danni3ll3's picture

I use $5 woven plastic baskets that I bought in a grocery store. I believe they were meant to be used as bread baskets. I used to line them with a cotton towel because the baskets have a fairly open weave and didn't know if the dough would ooze through or stick. I decided to give it a shot and sprayed the baskets with spray oil and floured the baskets. The dough stayed in the baske and came out with no issues when it was time. I then used water instead of spray oil and again, this worked out just fine. I like the idea of the plastic because if they ever got moldy or too grungy, I can easily wash them by hand or in the dishwasher (they are dish washer safe). Plus they were super cheap compared to a real banneton. 

PetraR's picture

I started using them because I bake Sourdough bread and the bannetons help keeping the shape while they are proofing.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

to save on counter space and to move the rising dough around in the kitchen from one place to another like from kitchen to an outdoor oven.  Many of them stack well using their edges, again to save space or to fill a mobil rack which may double as a cooling rack when loaves come out of the oven.  Very easy to keep track of how many are rising, how many are in the oven (they're missing) and how many are already baked.  

I think their number one purpose for existence is to save on counter/working space and keep loaves separate from each other while fermenting/rising.  Their shape supports rise "memory" but only if the right size and not too big for the amount of dough.  

dabrownman's picture

when they are are 50 cents each.  For $10 you can get any shape and size imaginable.  Nothing sticks to a bit a rice flour.