Proofing basket can be a very effective tool in the bread baking process. Its supports the dough while it’s rising and contributes to that artisan bread look you want, giving it beautiful shape and pattern. Over the years and during my years at the bakery I used different kinds of proofing basket in all shapes and sizes so I can honestly say, for the home baker, this is the best choice:
The best proofing basket for the home bread baker is The Banneton 9 Inch Proofing Basket (link to check the price on Amazon ). This proofing basket is large for 1.5 pounds ( around 680 gr) of dough which is a nice size loaf of round bread. It’s made out of natural rattan cane and its rings will shape your loaf in a beautiful artisan like pattern.
Using it will make sure your dough will rise to its full potential and give it a nice shape. It will also help the moisture escape slowly and start to form a thicker skin on your bread for a nice crispy crust at the end of the bake.
Why Do I Like The Banneton 9 Inch Proofing Basket So Much?
As mentioned before it holds up to 1.5 pounds of dough or 680 gr which makes a nice loaf of bread but it can also support smaller loaves. I bake what some people call a “mini loaf” and it fits perfectly for it.
I like the natural rattan way better than the plastic options out there. It simply doesn’t have the same quality and feels to it. While the plastic baskets are easier to clean they do not breath as well and your loaf needs that air circulation. Sure you need to scan the basket from time to time to check that there are no strings coming out but that rarely happens and can be fixed so I wouldn’t worry about it that much.
The rattan gives the bread a beautiful texture like an old loaf in some tavern in a fantasy book (you caught me. I’m a GOT fan), there is nothing quite like it.
When you purchase The Banneton 9 Inch Proofing Basket It comes with a bread scraper (you can never have too many plastics scarpers around) a bread lame and a proofing cloth liner. The cloth liner makes it easy to keep the basket clean and helps with the moisture as well. It is great for beginners that have trouble getting the loaf out of the basket.
The price of this basket is very reasonable. they run around 13-18 USD per basket. As mentioned before comes with some extras which are always nice. With the right maintenance, you will be able to use these baskets for years to come. Check this link to Amazon to find the most current up to date prices. They change from time to time and you might find some other packages for even better deals or for multiple baskets.
Do You Really Need a Proofing Basket?
I like to be honest so in this case, the answer is no. You can make good and tasty bread without a proofing basket by using a mixing bowl or any kind of vassal. If you don’t have the money for it you can skip it BUT it is a tool that can upgrade the texture of your bread greatly: both inside the mass and outside.
I will explain: The idea is to let the dough surface dry a little as it rises, the rattan cane of the banneton absorbs moisture and releases more of it out and helping it rise to its full potential. The prooving basket holds the shape and makes the outside of the dough less sticky, therefore easy to score which helps the bread to vent out all the gases properly without it exploding where you don’t want it to. Lastly, it also gives it a nice spiral texture and presentation.
How To Keep and Maintain a Proofing Basket?
Maintaining the basket will give it a long life and allow you to enjoy it time and time again. Before using the basket for the first time, it is recommended to evenly sprinkle water with a sprier on the basket to moisten it.
Then, pour one cup of flour in the middle of the basket and then start rotating in a circular motion to distribute the flour evenly over and over again. After the whole basket is covered with flour evenly, turn the basket upside down, gently shake it and pour out the excess flour and then leave it to dry.
After you broke in the Banneton proofing basket you should simply coat the basket with flour before using it and that’s it. Easy right?
To clean the basket after use simply take a large brush and sweep away all of the flour left behind. Do this right after you take the bread out of the basket. this will help to prevent the flour from sticking to the crevasses. You can also wash out the basket with water and leave it to dry in a warm dry place.
If you use the liner cloth use the same technique, just brush off all the excess flour away. If you find dough sticking to your cloth leave it out to dry overnight and then try to flake it off with your brush. If you find that you still have dough stuck on it soak the cloth in cold water overnight and then let it dry. Try to brush it off again. It should be fine.
Avoid using soap and water on your cloth or throwing it in the washing machine. This will ruin your cloth and shrink it as well.
Storing your proofing basket
As for storing, keep it in a dry place and every once in a while ( for me it’s about once a month) brush of the flower and keep on with your day. Store it in a place with lots of air and don’t cover it in a plastic bag or anything like that. it will only cause mold to form as it provides for a damp environment for microbes to thrive.
Note: proofing baskets can get some blackening on them. that’s just signs of regular use and is completely fine.
What About an Oval Proofing Basket? The 10 Inch Oval Banneton Proofing Basket
- Not everyone loves or wants to make a round loaf. When I make loaves for sandwiches for my son I will reach for an oval proofing basket. The oval / elongated baskets will give you that great sandwich bread shape you need for even size slices, where the round loaf is better served with dinner for soaking up sauces and the shape of your slice does not really matter
- This basket same as the round will hold up to 1.5 pounds of dough with 10 inches (D) x 3.5 inches (H) size but holds small dough just fine as well. This basket too made out of rattan cane material. It will give the bread a nice oval shape and beautiful ring pattern. It comes with a dough scraper and banneton liner as well, which is nice.
- The liner also comes in handy when you’re trying to avoid the pattern in your dough. When I leave the dough in the banneton basket in the refrigerator overnight to proof it holds the dough perfectly, not giving any bad smell or molds whatsoever.
At the end of the day if you are a passionate home baker you should get a proofing basket. The Banneton Proofing Basket is the perfect choice at a good price. I would highly recommend you get more than one basket and more than one shape just to keep your options open. I personally own 6 of them. You will find that you sometimes want to make multiple loaves or different shapes. Heck, you are already investing the time in making the dough. Just make more of it and you can always freeze one of your loaves if you don’t plan on eating it in the next couple of days. They are not that expensive and you don’t want to get stuck without one when you need it most.