How to use a banneton bread basket for proofing dough? In this article I’m going to show you how to use a banneton to get fantastic results when making yeast or sourdough bread. We’ll also discuss how to care for a banneton, how to use a banneton for the first time and a few alternative bread baskets ideas.
This is a full “how to use a bread basket” guide including everything I know about bread proofing baskets. So let’s get into this!
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How a banneton is used in bread baking
Dough is placed inside the banneton for its final rise. The banneton supports the dough so it rises upwards and not outwards as it ferments.
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Proofing in the banneton occurs after the dough has undergone bulk fermentation. The dough is then preshaped, left to rest on the bench for 15-30 minutes. Then it is shaped and placed in a prepared banneton for its final proof.
The dough is ready, it is then tipped out of the bread proofing basket onto a board, tray or peel. Next, the bread will be cut before making its way into the oven.
Are bannetons and bread proofing baskets the same?
A banneton is the most common form of bread proofing basket. They mainly come in round or oval sizes but other shapes are available for purchase. Many artisan bread recipes use a banneton to complete the final proof stage. There are other types of proofing baskets available that aren’t bannetons. Yet the majority of bakers use banneton baskets for proofing.
Is using a banneton essential for proofing bread?
Using a banneton is not necessary to make bread. Many types of bread are proofed using:
- Bread tins
- A couche
- Free-form without any support
- Proofed and baked on a tray like rolls
- A banneton alternative which I describe later on
Why use a bread proofing basket?
For open crumb or sourdough bread, a bread proofing basket is a solution for the majority of artisan bread bakers. Being able to support large loaves in either a round or long shape makes them perfect for the task. Great durability and low cost have made the raton banneton the industry-standard proofing basket. The circular lined pattern that the canes imprint on the bread is much adored on artisan and sourdough bread.
What is the best bread proofing basket?
There are a few bread proofing baskets that bakers use. The wicker made “rattan banneton” is the most popular. They all have pros and cons, which I’ll explain when we get there.
The Rattan banneton – The industry standard
A banneton made from wicker is the most common bread proofing basket. They are used in bakeries across the globe primarily for sourdough bread. The spiral pattern this cane proofing basket leaves on the bread makes the most perfect sourdough bread. If you don’t want the rings around the dough you can use a linen liner. A well-made banneton is extremely durable and will last for years. They can get wet, mouldy or baked by accident and work just fine afterwards.
The only thing that you have to be wary of is the occasional splinter coming from the wicker wood. A quick inspection whilst preparing the banneton is the best way to stop splinters from appearing in the bread.
My favourite size is a 9-inch diameter. These are perfect for doughs that are 500-700 grams in size. As 650 grams is the weight I usually make, this banneton is perfect for me.
Check out the link below for the one that I use.
The Brotform banneton – German efficiency?
The first banneton I ever purchased was made from brotform. It’s essentially made from compressed cardboard that’s often recycled. A brotform proofing basket is better for the environment than a wicker basket. They also don’t splinter. The material is slightly more porous which means less flour is required when dusting. They aren’t usually used with a linen cover.
But it’s not all good news for brotform bannetons. For a start, they are hard to find at the moment. I can only find one supplier in the UK.
A high hydration recipe can also be a problem. They can get stuck to the basket and as the dough hardens it is impossible to scrape without destroying the basket!
They can also get damp and therefore mouldy. So are they really better for the environment when you need to ship them from Germany every 6 months as they don’t last very long? Probably not. Brotform bannetons are also more expensive than Rattan baskets.
Painibois – the wooden one
These are thin wood baskets that are lined with a one-use sheet of baking parchment. The shape is similar to a tin although less durable. Like with a baking tin, the baker will proof the loaf in the basket and once ready it will go into the oven for baking.
They are a little flimsy but then again they are cheap to replace and the loaves look really nice.
Is a painibois better than a bread tin?
I believe I get the same quality bake with a painbois as with a metal bread tin. The crust is identical as the thin wood conducts heat quickly during the bake for a great oven rise. After 10 bakes or so, I find the Painibois start to fall apart. So if you want the loaf to hold its shape, you have to purchase a new one.
But by all means, if you want to experiment, they are definitely worth a go. They have a low price and look beautiful stacked above an oven in a bakery. Use them for small loaves when you want something a bit different.
The wicker bread basket – have a unique bread shape
It’s pretty easy to grab a bread basket fitted with a cloth liner from household stores. You might already have one in your cupboard! They work great, despite missing the lined imprint on the dough that rattan baskets have, they are amazing proofing solutions!
The price of wicker wood is much lower than a banneton basket and just as durable. What’s great about using a wicker basket is that you can have a unique shape for your loaves! There are some for round loaves, oval loaves, long loaves, deep loaves and thin ones too!
The cloth liners are not very suitable for wet dough recipes. This is not a problem if you make standard sourdough bread such as the one in my sourdough recipe for beginner’s.
One of the most highly regarded bakeries in the world, the Poilane bakery purchase oval wicker baskets for their sourdough Miche. So it’s safe to say that you can too!
How to prepare a new banneton
The first time you use a banneton there are a few extra steps to take. The only tool you will need is a water mister, but if you don’t have one you can wet the basket under the tap.
Spray the inside of the basket with water. Once it is wet, liberally dust it with flour and some rice flour (if you have any). The flour will then attach itself to the moisture. Turn the banneton round so that the flour covers all of the contact areas. Once covered, turn it upside down and give it a strong bang on the table to let the excess flour fall out.
A durable protective layer forms which will stop your dough from sticking to the banneton. For extra protection leave the floured banneton in a warm place for a couple of days before using.
How to flour a banneton basket
Tip the banneton at a 45-degree angle to the table.
Working from the outside lightly dust with flour and rice flour (not essential) whilst stopping to rotate it regularly.
Cover the inside of the basket with a dusting of flour.
Keep going until the banneton is well covered.
If you find a lot of the flour from the edges has dropped towards the centre, do not worry, it’s perfectly normal.
After the bread dough is placed inside, lift it up the sides slightly and dust a little extra flour around the edges. This part isn’t essential but is handy for a new banneton basket to stop the loaf from sticking.
A little too much flour is always better than too little
How to remove the dough from the banneton
When the dough is fully proofed, turn the banneton upside down above a board or bakers peel. Lightly bang the edge on the table and the dough should come straight out. If it doesn’t come out at first, give it a harder bang. If the dough is stuck you need to add more flour to the basket next time.
Can I add too much flour to a banneton?
Yes, you can cover the proofing basket with too much flour. If this happens, the loaf will have excess flour on the crust as it bakes. This will burn at high temperatures and looks unappealing after the bake.
To avoid this happening, add an even coverage across all areas of the basket. Try to avoid the flour from mounting up at the bottom of the basket. If your banneton is new you might want to spray it with water to obtain even coverage.
How to store a banneton
It’s best to keep a banneton somewhere with airflow. Turn the basket upside down to stop dust or bugs and place it on a shelf. To remove the moisture from a damp banneton, put it on top of the oven for a couple of hours. The warmth takes away moisture to prevent mould from appearing.
To store a banneton in a cupboard, remove any debris and dry it out first.
How to clean a banneton after use
Washing a banneton is not necessary as they shouldn’t get wet. After use, I place them on top of the oven to dry. Any hardened bread dough can then be removed with a thin table knife or edge of a metal dough scraper:
Starting from the centre of the basket I run my blunt object along the grooves. I usually use a dough scraper, but a palette knife works well. I follow the circles of the spun wicker until I get to the end. The knife/scraper removes the dough that’s stuck between the grooves.
I find that the grooves of the cane stay on the loaf much better after proofing in a clean basket, so it’s great to get the scraper out every now and again.
Homemade banneton alternatives
If you don’t have a banneton you can still make bread without having to purchase one especially. Any bowl or container can be used, just line it with a floured tea towel to stop the loaf from getting stuck. Smooth surfaces don’t stick to flour so a liner such as a tea towel is needed.
Here are a few more banneton alternatives that you can use.
The choice of bread proofing basket is not going to make or break your recipe. It’s a personal choice for what you are most comfortable using to make a loaf. I use a mixture of rattan banneton shapes or wicker baskets to proof the majority of my bread. Now and again I will whip out the painbois for a loaf that’s a bit different.
There is no right or wrong however, I would stay away from the brotform versions if you are a beginner.
Frequently Asked Questions about bread basket proofing
Do I need more flour in the banneton for sticky dough?
If the dough is sticky it will need more flour in the banneton. Often a combination of flour and either coarse semolina or rice flour works better than just flour. The larger grains form a bigger barrier between the dough and the proofing basket to prevent the loaf from getting stuck together.
What can I do if I add too much flour to the proofing basket?
If you discover there is too much flour dusted on the surface of the loaf before baking, you can remove it. Use a pastry brush to lightly remove the excess flour from the dough.
Doing this on every bread before baking is quite a time-consuming task, especially when high volumes are involved. Try to use less flour when dusting if you can!
Can you dust the bread instead of the banneton?
This is not the traditional way to do it but flouring the shaped bread dough instead of the banneton does work!
A little extra flour can be added around the edges after the dough is placed inside it. This is just to be on the safe side of sticky. The results for me have been very good and it saves half a second of time!
Is flour the only way to dust a banneton?
A larger sized grain is often used to line the banneton either by replacing or in addition to flour dusting. Grains such as rice flour and coarse semolina are often selected. Larger grains create a bigger barrier between the dough and the proofing basket. The thicker barrier will then reduce the risk of the dough getting stuck.
Using grains like rice flour adds a crunchier texture to the surface of the crust after baking. Whilst they also change the taste and appearance of the bread. The adaptation of using other ingredients can be at a disadvantage to the bread in some cases.
French bread bakers are not permitted to use any other grain other than flour when bread baking. Therefore, French and baking purists choose to solely use flour and not rice flour to line their bannetons.
Do I use the banneton liner that came with my banneton?
Bannetons often come with a liner. These liners can be used, or not. It’s completely a personal preference. Without the liner, the bread will inherit the characteristic lines from the wound wicker. With the liner, the bread has a smoother appearance. If proofing a wet dough I prefer to not use a liner. If they get wet the dough can stick and it is a nightmare to clean! Often the liner has to be thrown away.
In some instances, I prefer to use the liner, in others I don’t.
How to clean a banneton liner
Hang them up to dry out for a couple of days then remove as much dry dough as you can with your hands. Place them in a saucepan of water and boil them for 30 minutes. Depending on how dirty they are you might need to rinse them and boil them again. Use tongs to remove them and hang up until dry.
Why use banneton instead of a bread tin?
A bread tin is a fantastic piece of kit and I use mine all the time for baking sandwich bread. Bakers prefer a round banneton as open crumbed bread isn’t helpful for the sandwich bread shape. A sourdough baker usually uses a banneton for its final rise.
Using a free-form proofing technique
Shaping the bread before placing it on a tray to final proof is called free-form proofing. The benefit of this technique is the ability to make different shape bread recipes. The downside to free-form proofing is the dough must be strong enough to hold its shape without spreading out.
Can I use a bowl instead of a banneton to proof bread?
Providing the bowl has some sort of liner such as a tea towel it can be used as a banneton! Linen material is quite helpful for lining any type of basket. It can also be used to cover the dough to stop it from drying out during the final rise. See my guide on banneton alternatives here.
Why do you flour a bread proofing basket?
Dusting flour or rice flour in a banneton forms a barrier between the bread and the basket. Without something between the dough and the banneton, the dough will stick to the basket. When you try to tip the dough out after proofing the dough will not come out if there was no flour added.
It is high-risk to not add flour to the banneton. Rolling the dice and hoping the dough doesn’t get stuck inside is really not worth the risk of spending ages with a dough scraper!
If I add a topping such as oats or seeds do I need to dust the banneton?
If you have rolled the bread in a topping such as oats or seeds, as long as the dough is well covered there is no need to line the banneton with flour. Actually, it’s quite important that we don’t. After baking, the flour will create a white–musky layer over the topping. This can ruin the look of the bread.
Why not use grease instead of flour to line the bowl?
Oil creates a protective layer to prevent dough from sticking. The issue with this when proofing bread is that the oil will stick to the surface of the bread. As the bread bakes, oil intensifies the heat and burns the crust.
Should white bread flour be used to dust the banneton?
It is possible to use any time of flour to dust the banneton. Wholemeal or rye flour can be used to add extra aroma to hearty bread, whereas, white flour is usually used on white loaves.
What flour to use for dusting a banneton?
When cleaning my worktop I scrape all the flour and dry dough into a bowl with a dough scraper. Next, I’ll sieve out the lumps. This gives me some dusting flour that would otherwise be wasted.