What are banneton baskets?
Different types of bread look attractive when they are well formed. Artisan bakers use proofing baskets to achieve that perfect symmetrical round loaves of bread known as boules. Proofing baskets are called bannetons or brotforms, they give structure and shape to the dough during its final rise. They may vary in shapes and sizes, can be round, oval or oblong and from small (8 inches) to extra large sizes (12 inches). Most baskets are made of rattan but some are made out of cane, wicker, spruce pulp, terracotta or polyethylene. A banneton basket made of rattan with a spiral pattern produces a beautifully shaped boule with line design.
The use of proofing baskets are not limited to artisan bakers. They can be bought online or from baker’s grocery and so are readily available for home bakers to use. Some come with a liner so this is a very handy “extra” if you want your bread to have a smooth surface. Or you can leave the banneton unlined to have the design of the basket imprinted on the surface to give bread a rustic look.
How to choose quality banneton baskets?
The important characteristics when choosing your banneton basket are the following:
- Material - food grade, non-toxic
- Structure - well made, sturdy, durable
- Shape - provides good support and shape to the dough
- Not made in China - we have yet to find a good quality banneton made in China, from both craftsmanship and health safety perspectives
Rattan is a popular material choice for banneton basket because it is sturdy, durable and light. It gives good support and shape to dough and at the same time easy and convenient to use. A good quality rattan is resistant to splintering. It has a wicking property which absorbs or drains moisture away. It is natural and edible as well so it’s non-toxic. These properties of rattan make it an ideal material for making banneton basket.
We personally recommend our very own Saint Germain banneton baskets which are carefully sourced and handcrafted to meet our highest expectations. They are handmade using natural rattan, absolutely free from dye and free from chemicals, by artisans in Vietnam with whom we have had a long working relationship with.
How to use banneton baskets for proofing?
When preparing the dough for proofing, banneton basket is commonly used to form a boule. The gluten structure at this stage relaxes and becomes finer, causing the dough to spread out. Banneton basket supports the dough and hold its shape to prevent it from spreading out as it rises.To use, dust the basket generously with flour and lightly shake off excess amount. For proofing wet dough, line the basket with a floured linen liner (rice flour is particularly effective). Linen liner reduces sticking of wet dough to the basket and produces a smooth crust. Then transfer the dough into the banneton basket seam side up, cover with plastic wrap and let rise. After proofing, transfer the dough to a parchment paper lined baking tray seam side down (seam is at the bottom). The dough just leaves the basket readily. If the basket is unlined, you can see the patterned design of the basket imprinted on the surface of the dough. To clean the basket, just simply tap, or you can use a soft bristled brush to remove excess flour. Let it dry completely before storing. Do the same with the liner, brush the excess flour, hang to dry before storing. The linen liner is washable so you can wash it with tap water if needed and hang to dry. Store your banneton and linen liner in a dry place with good air circulation.