When it comes to baking the perfect loaf of sourdough bread, achieving a flawless proof is key to success. However, bread dough can be fickle at times, allowing for mistakes to happen during the proofing process that can affect the final outcome.
Bannetons are specially crafted baskets made to guide and shape bread dough as it goes through its final rise. Though some may argue they are not critical, using a banneton can aide in creating a better rise and a much more consistent crust. But, with a variety of different types, shapes, and sized baskets, selecting the right banneton is critical to success. From creating your own DIY banneton basket to deciding what size banneton for a 500g loaf, find out all the top tricks and tips to using a proofing basket
Types of banneton
The first step to using a banneton correctly for sourdough is selecting the right type of basket. There are five popular choices, all with their own benefits.
Cane Wicker Banneton (or rattan banneton)
Wicker (or Rattan) is perhaps the most common material seen to construct proofing baskets. This is because the wicker has gaps that let air circulate throughout the basket, allowing the dough to breathe and grow properly. A cane wicker banneton also lets excess moisture escape the dough more slowly, so as to form a crispy outer crust
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Though not as popular, plenty of bread bakers have found success with plastic proofing baskets. The biggest advantage of plastic is the ability to quickly wash and clean them in the dishwasher or sink. However, without the airy gaps in its construction, plastic has been known to limit the rise of some doughs
Wood Pulp Banneton
Often made in Germany and very popular in Europe, wood pulp banneton baskets are another great choice. The wooden construction pulls moisture away from the dough thoroughly and evenly. This makes wood pulp an excellent choice for bakers that prefer baking with wet or high hydration dough
Linen Lined Banneton
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Linen lined baskets are typically rattan cane or wood pulp banneton baskets with a fabric liner permanently sewn in. The benefits of using a banneton with an extra linen liner are that it reduces the stickiness of wet dough and with the liner covering the sides, the crust comes out much smoother than dough directly touching the sides of a wicker or wood pulp basket.
For those looking to make their own DIY banneton basket, a quick proofing basket can be made in a pinch. Simply take a bread loaf pan and line it with a generous layer of flour or a clean tea towel. Using a banneton, even a homemade one, will help the bread hold its shape for the final rise.
Tip: Wet dough tends to stick to bannetons regardless of what they’re made of. To avoid any potential sticking problems, always lightly dust the banneton in flour in addition to coating the dough in flour before placing in the basket to proof. This will help the dough release seamlessly when the time comes to remove it.
Selecting the Right Size
Bannetons come in a wide range of sizes to accommodate different amounts of bread dough. Choosing the right size is important as a basket too small will result in dough overload and using a banneton that is too large can lead to a lumpy loaf.
What Size Banneton for a 500g Loaf?
For those baking with 500g (1 LB) of dough, an 8-inch basket is perfectly suitable.
What Size Banneton for a 1kg Loaf?
For those going with a larger dough load, a 1kg (2 LB) loaf will need a 10-inch banneton to ensure no dough begins to expand over the sides.
Tip: If ever caught between two sizes or unsure how much the dough will rise, it is always best to select the bigger basket size. Dough slightly misshapen is much easier to fix than dough that’s expanded far over the sides of a small basket.
Proofing bread dough, especially wet dough, without using a banneton will result in flat, shapeless bread. No matter the type or size banneton bakers may choose, all proofing baskets provide essential support during the rise to give the bread needed shape and develop a delicious crust. The benefits of using a banneton are undeniable. It will create a difference you can taste!