The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

No bannetons around...

Vince920's picture

No bannetons around...

I let my instant dry yeast bread proof in an oiled steel bowl. It never really stuck to it. But I'm having problems with my sourdough bread sticking everywhere I proof it, especially because of its slack nature and especially long proofing times.

I've tried proofing it in a plastic container lined with a kitched tissue paper and it just absorbed the flour on the towel and began sticking to it the second time I did it (I made a larger loaf the second time). Wasn't I putting enough flour on the towel?

Anyways, so I have 3 steel bowls of 3 different sizes that I use for mixing anything and proofing my regular yeast bread. Can I use those and line them with paper towel and lots of flour? Should I heavily oil the containers instead? At this point, I'm too afraid to attempt making any more sourdough bread. I don't have any linen cloths or any of those that are smooth, so that's not one of the options. Does flouring my bowl and adding sesame seeds help? Or would oiling my bowl up and adding sesame seeds do a better job?

psihodel's picture

Hi Vince, I was having similar problems with my sourdough, as I regularly make Tartine style country loaves. At first, I followed the reccomendation from the book and dusted the bannetons with the mix of AP flour and rice flour, but the dough would stick to the banneton when I tried to transfer it onto a peel for putting into the oven. This was especially true when i proof the loaves on the counter, instead in the fridge.

Recently, I have switched to dusting the bannetons with a generous amount of pure rice flour, and I am getting much better results. The dough rarely sticks when I am putting it onto the peel. Even if it sticks a bit, I just go slow, and do not get any tearing.

I am using these bannetons: (0.5 with crease pattern)

Hope this helps a bit :)

Vince920's picture

I don't even have any bannetons around. Went to a baking shop and found none. Most bread sold by bakeries in my region seems to not use bannetons for proofing as they are mostly buns, so basically, nobody uses bannetons around here. I couldn't even find cast iron dutch ovens on our national eBay counterpart.

I actually did it before with glutinous rice flour (we don't have regular rice flour at home) and it worked with my first attempt! I think my second attempt was just too heavy, thus, making more contact with the paper towel and absorbing even more of the flour. The paper towel literally stuck to the bread. 

This Day's picture
This Day

I don't have bannetons either, and I use inexpensive straw hats with round crowns.  Sprinkle rice flour on a tea towel spread on a flat surface.  Place the dough in the middle of the towel, then grasp the corners of the towel and lower the dough in the towel into the crown of the upside-down hat.  Shake the dough back and forth gently to see that it moves freely; if not, add more rice flour around the edges, then cover the dough with the corners of the towel while it rises.  If the crown of the hat isn't rigid, you can place the upside-down hat in a bowl deeper than the crown.  The brim of the hat will keep the crown suspended in the bowl and will allow for air circulation all around the rising dough, making it less likely to stick to the towel.

debbahs's picture

You could maybe use those to line your bowls? I have used heavily floured 100% cotton dish towels for proofing before I got my linen couche and my bannetons (I was able to order both the couche ( and my bannetons ( on Amazon if that helps - free shipping on orders over $25 :-) ).

Vince920's picture

I don't even live in the US, UK, Canada, etc. I guess I'll have to experiment for now as I look for a linen cloth and a banneton.

This Day's picture
This Day

A pillow case or an old bed sheet torn up will probably work if you don't have tea towels.  Cotton will work; you don't have to use linen.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

of knitted cotton or even a blend.  I use jeans too.  The pockets make a neat impression on the surface of the loaf.

... And you might ask me.... Where does one score the loaf?  My reply: How does one rip through one's jeans?  (And we're not splitting chromosomes here...)  Or how do you want to open a pocket?  

I suspect if the dough is sticking too much it may need more gluten development and/or a lower hydration and/or the fermentation has gone too far or pesky thiol compounds are at work.  Take your pick.  :)

Vince920's picture

They cost over $10 each, and that is not cheap for me at all (I only have around $30 worth of savings left for the remainder of summer).

I'd experiment with alternatives as I don't have the money yet, not to mention I don't receive much allowance during summer (my parents send me around $4+ every week for my expenses, which is barely anything as I use that money for buying my flour).

Vince920's picture

Although they're not exactly what I'm looking for, they're really helpful for some folks out there.

I might just experiment with the oiled bowl, tissue paper on bowl and with sesame seeds methods to find amswers as nobody seems to have done such thing before.

I'd just save up for a banneton when classes start and I receive allowances once again.

IceDemeter's picture

actual baking parchment paper - which is not paper towel, not tissue paper, not wax paper, but a specific product (also called non-stick baking paper or just baking paper or just parchment paper) that has non-stick properties for baking.  It can stick to uncooked dough (although wetting it down first will minimize that), but will release after heating.  Check out this video for using it properly for proofing / baking:

If you use the proper parchment paper, and leave the dough on it for baking, then you don't need to be concerned about sticking, and it makes the transfer of the dough from the proofing vessel to the baking vessel very easy.

The method and recipe that is in the video might work for your busy schedule, too - especially since you can add in some refrigerator time if necessary to suit your timing.

Oh - and if you want to use a floured smooth cotton kitchen towel inside one of your stainless steel bowls for proofing, then you might find that if you use a mix of rice flour and semolina or cornmeal and really fill the towel with the flour (as in prep the towel ahead of time by really rubbing in a lot of flour, and then dusting in more before putting in the dough), then you should have less issue with the sticking.  Adding a layer of nuts or seeds would probably help as well.

Good luck!

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I use inexpensive wicker baskets that I get from the Chinese market here. I flour them with rice flour and nothing sticks. The problem with steel bowls is that they don't let any air circulate to help dry the surface of the dough, nor do they absorb any moisture from the dough. And paper towels (or tissue) is too fragile and will stick and tear. I'm not sure where you are located but surely you can find baskets (or, as others have suggested, a hat, or even cotton or linen clothing supported by your bowls).

If you're going to use seeds or flakes (good idea, by the way), try rolling the dough in the seeds before putting it in the bowl or basket. It's easier to get the whole surface covered that way.

Vince920's picture

Baking paper is always available in the baking store I visit. Hopefully, I could find one for cheap.

As for using different flour and seeds, as I said, I've tried glutinous rice flour with the tissue paper and it worked well. I suspect I just under-applied the second time I did it, although I couldn't confirm that. I can use that rice flour and sesame seeds. Can I also use oatmeal? How about crushed corn flakes?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

can be used.  Oatmeal is one of my favourites and it has super absorbency properties (so you can use a steel bowl if you want to) just roll the dough into the flakes.  Cornflakes containing sugar may burn easily so taste them first.  You can also use various vegetables and leaves, like banana leaf, pandan, cabbage, ....  I'm presently using grated and chopped  jack fruit nuts.  Boil and roast first before using inside the dough for more flavour.  (don't just toss into the oven unless you cut them first or they will explode.  Did that last week, forgot about that little detail and had to clean my oven.  Looked like I threw coconut flakes all over the inside of it.  You can use coconut flakes too, rinse well and use fresh.  You are only limited by your imagination.  :)  

You could also make your own bannetons from palm leaves or weave something.  I'm all for adding your own native touch to bread shapes and designs.  I have even used cardboard boxes to hold dough while it rises and also nothing at all.  I have tied up the corners of the cloth and hung it from a hook with all sides exposed to the air.  A rice washing basket, if you find one small and tall enough can also be used and they are cheap.   

Potato flakes also work but you can just use flour also.  

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Mini, I love your creativity! It just goes to show you can bake bread out of almost anything, anywhere. :)

bigcrusty's picture


Usually I get sticking when I've hydrated too much.  I have some homemade bannetons.  Basically, $.99 baskets from Michael's which are covered with unbleached linen that I flour lightly.  Occasionally, I get some sticking but as I said it is usually when I made a mistake on hydration.  I bake up to 12 loaves a week using these with generally good to great results.  I also bulk ferment overnight in my proofing refrigerator (college dorm room size) set at 42 - 44 F.  Cold dough usually doesn't stick as much.  I also purchased some plastic containers with covers at Dollar General which are boule shaped.  I oil these and proof the loaves in the fridge and have had little to no sticking issues.

Hope that is helpful.  Happy Baking.


Big Crusty

Vince920's picture

@Mini Oven:

Woah, it seems over the top to use vegetables for bread! I'm definitely going to try the oatmeal + corn flakes + sesame seeds in an oiled bowl. My corn flakes are Nestle whole grain, not frosted. If anything, I would actually prefer to use something a little sweeter since my broiler barely browns my bread. By the way, I've been reading a lot on this site lately and have seen your comments to date back as far as 2006, I think? That's insane! Good to see you commenting on this thread 11 years later.


Thanks! That's a lot of help, indeed. Thanks for your input about oiling a bowl for proofing! I might not need a banneton nor a linen cloth after all! I might try using a soup bowl and compare it with the stainless steel bowl to see if it makes a difference.

Thanks for all of your answers! They definitely were helpful! Although I have 1 last question: does the dough really need to have air circulation while proofing? I've found a colander lying around in our kitchen, but is it really necessary? I proof for only 20 minutes in room temp and 16 hours in the fridge, so I'm assuming it isn't necessary.

Alan.H's picture


For several years my "bannetons" have been very cheap lightweight plastic bowls lined with baking parchment into which the dough is placed after final shaping for proofing, sometimes overnight in the fridge. It is then is lifted complete with parchment into the pre-heated dutch oven. After baking it peels of easily and discarded. I have also used it as a flat sheet on which to slide a shaped loaf onto a baking stone. No need to use rice flour or semolina etc.

As IceDemete points out it does have to be baking parchment. I have tried "baking paper" in the past and it stuck to the bread like old wallpaper to a wall!

Vince920's picture

@Alan.H, that bowl looks a lot like what I use, except that it's steel instead of plastic. I'll definitely try parchment when I find one for cheap.

I just fed my starter. About to start my same old recipe again. Hopefully, it won't stick to the proofing bowl.

Here's the recipe, in case anybody's interested:

Flour - 100%
Water - 64%
Salt - 2%
Starter - 10%

Flour - 250g (2 cups)
Water - 153.6g (153.6mL; 1/2 cup + 1.83 tbsp)
Salt - 5g (0.88 tsp)
Starter - 25g (1.69 tbsp)

1 - Feed sourdough starter. Let rest for 4-10 hours.

2 - Mix flour and water. Let rest (autolyse) for 1 hour.

3 - Add sourdough starter and salt. Mix and let rest for 1 hour.

4 - Transfer dough onto a work surface. Knead with lightly damp hands and a scraper for 10 to 30 minutes until stretchy and elastic. Rinse dough off of hands every time dough starts to stick.

5 - Transfer dough onto a clean bowl. Let rest for 3-4 hours. Gently stretch and fold dough for 3 times every 30 minutes.

6 - Transfer dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape as desired. Oil and transfer onto a proofing container. Let rest for 20 minutes.

8 - Refrigerate dough for 16-18 hours. Take dough out of fridge immediately before baking.

7 - Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes, and an additional 10-20 minutes at 400 degrees F until crust forms as desired.

8 - Let cool for at least 1 hour.


21:30 Feed the starter
--- Next Day
07:30 Mix autolyse
08:30 Mix starter + salt
09:30 Knead
10:00 Rest
10:30 Stretch and fold
11:00 Stretch and fold
11:30 Stretch and fold
13:00 Shape
13:20 Refrigerate
--- Next Day
07:55 Take out of fridge and preheat oven
08:00 Bake

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

step 4  

Transfer dough onto a work surface. Knead with lightly damp hands and a scraper for 10 to 30 minutes until stretchy and elastic. Rinse dough off of hands every time dough starts to stick.

 or at least greatly reduce all this kneading stuff...  Because of step 3, you only knead a few minutes and don't go washing your hands everytime dough starts to stick.  Just dip lightly into water.  

Vince920's picture

Thanks. I'll try that next time.

Vince920's picture

I rolled the dough with sesame seeds and oatmeal, then oiled the bowl. Turned it around to coat, then refrigerated for 18 hours before baking. The dough came right off of the bowl! I'll be trying it again with a bigger loaf next time.

See that I cooked it on a pot? Haha! It's a small loaf and I didn't want to waste electricity, so I baked in there. Bread came out nicely dense and not gummy after 45 minutes on medium-low heat.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Looks very tasty!   :)

Vince920's picture

I gave it to my uncle. I'm making anothe loaf tomorrow, this time with 3 cups of flour and in my turbo broiler. Wish me luck.