Fix And Prevent: Dough Sticking To Your Proofing Basket

If you are reading this post I feel your pain and agony. Not to be a downer but really! after all that hard work you put in and your bread is now stuck to the proofing basket! argh!

Dough sticking to the proofing basket can happen due to the following reasons:

  1. You have a new proofing basket and it has not been treated or seasoned
  2. Not letting the dough rest after proofing.
  3. You are not using enough flour when dusting your proofing basket prior to loading the bread
  4. Type of flour fact or fiction
  5. Not using a proper proofing basket.

Lets take a look at these reasons in more detail and see how we can fix and prevent your bread from sticking to your proofing basket.

How To Release a Stuck Bread From The Proofing Basket

OK, so your bread is stuck, is there a way to save it? In some cases yes.

Try this. Take a brush with a bit of water, gently push the bread at the top of the basket to the side with your fingers and stick the brush with the water in between the bread and the basket.

Be careful and let me emphasize GENTLY again.

Work your way around the basket. Don’t work your way down as you might deflate your bread. The water should work its way down and help to separate the bread.

After you have done this take the basket and turn it over on to your hand, again do this gently.

New Proofing Basket

So you went out and bought yourself a new proofing basket. You are so excited that you start working right away and preparing your first bread. But hold on! your brand new basket must be treated.

When a basket is new the bamboo ( this is the material most commonly used for proofing baskets ) is shiny and slippery.

You will notice that when you dust flour into the basket, most of it will slip right off the sides and onto the bottom of the basket.

The flour that did manage to stick will quickly fall off as well as soon as you move the proofing basket. This is definitely a problem and your dough will most likely stick to these exposed ridges.

How To Pre-treat Your New Proofing Basket

To pre-treat, or season, your basket follow these easy steps

  • Take sprits bottle, fill it up with some water and spray your proofing basket with it.
  • Make sure the water gets into all the nooks and crannies of the proofing basket.
  • Let the proofing basket sit like this ( with the water ) for about 10-15 min. You want the bamboo to soak up a bit of that water.
  • Now wipe down the excess water with a cloth.
  • Take some flour and give you proofing basket a good heavy dusting.
  • Let it sit for about 5 min a
  • Now turn over the proofing basket and tap it gently to get excess flour out.

You should have a thin layer of flour on your proofing basket. Now that it is ready, before loading your first dough into it give it another generous dusting. The flour should now hold on the sides of the proofing basket and you are good to go.

NOTE: If you are using a plastic proofing basket use oil, not flour.

One last thing. This process is only for the first couple of uses of the proofing basket. After a couple of uses, your basket should be broken in and you will only need to dust it well.

You should clean your proofing basket well and dry it out completely after every use and before storing it otherwise you will grow mold on it.

Let The Dough Rest In The Basket After Its Been Proofing

If you use a proofing box or have a nice humid place to prove your bread, you are creating even more moisture which in turn will make a glue out of the flour layer between your bread and basket.

To combat this, let your dough rest a bit before you go to turn it over. I would say about 10 – 15 minutes before turning over the proofing basket.

This resting time will let the dough dry a bit and shrink a bit. The change of climate from the warm and humid one in the proofing box ( or where ever you proof your bread, usually in a warm humid environment) and onto your counter, where it is cooler will cause the bread to shrink. This will definitely help to release the bread more smoothly out of the proofing basket.

If you do not have a good place to prove your bread or do not have a proofing basket I suggest you take a look into getting one. A proofing box will yield better results and will cut your proofing times dramatically. You can check out our review of a proofing box right here.

Make Sure To Dust Your Proofing Basket Well

A common mistake I encounter with new bakers is that they don’t cover the proofing basket with enough flour.

This is especially true when you make high hydration doughs ( I would consider 65% and above hydration level “high hydration” ). These doughs tend to be stickier and will absorb the flour from the proofing basket and will result in your dough sticking to the proofing basket. You will find many sourdough breads to have a high hydration level.

Now I don’t mean that you should put on tons of flour in your basket as it may have a negative effect as well but, your basket should be covered. Make sure to hold up the basket and keep turning it as you dust it with flour. Make sure you get it everywhere.

Which Flour You Should Use

I have heard and read many arguments about this topic and thought I should address it.

True, some flours can absorb water more quickly than others, but flour is flour and it is meant to absorb water when all is said and done.

If you pre-treat your proofing basket as mentioned earlier and dust it well it shouldn’t really matter which fluor you use.

I have seen some people suggest to use cornmeal, rolled oats and other ingredients. Note that using these ingrediants will have an effect on the flavor of your bread. Not always a bad thing.

I would suggest using a belnd of the flour you use for your bread and some rice flour ( about 50/50 )

Rice flour tends to absorb liquids more slowly and will make it easier for the bread to release from the basket.

Use A Proper Proofing Basket

If you are not using a proofing basket made for bread and just grab any basket you have in your home you are making a big mistake.

Proofing baskets are engineered for bread. If you find some random woven basket in your home and think it can do the job think again.

Most of these woven baskets have big gaps in the weave and your bread will definitely get stuck in that spaces as it proves and expends.

Proofing baskets are quite cheap. If you are not sure which one to get you can read our review right here.

Don’t cheap out on this item. Go out and get yourself a proofing basket.

NOTE: the most important thing is to make sure your basket is dry before use. If your basket is a bit moist because you washed it and did not dry it out fully it is a recipe for disaster.

Dry out your proofing basket in the oven or leave it outside for at least 24 hours to make sure it is completely dry.

Final Thoughts

Many proofing baskets come with a linen cloth. If you use the linen cloth it will make it easier to release the bread from the basket but note that you will lose the pattern of your proofing basket.

I hope this post helped you out and you were either able to release that stuck bread from your proofing basket or at least will be able to prevent it from happening again.

Happy baking everyone. May all your doughs release smoothly and cleanly 🙂

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Hi, my name is Amit. I started baking at a young age at my father's bakery. I hope I can answer some of your questions and hopefully you will find some hidden gems to help you out with your home baking skills.

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