This chic kitchen gadget can seriously level up your bread baking.
While many home bakers originally hopped onto the sourdough trend during the pandemic, we’re happy to report that many enthused cooks are continuing to hone their bread-baking craft. One of the best ways to level up your home baking game is to invest in the right equipment for the job.
In the case of certain types of breads like boules (a crusty French bread), this means a bench scraper, a sharp lame and a proper banneton basket. If you’re unfamiliar with banneton baskets, consider this your quick guide to every pro baker’s favorite tool.
What Is a Banneton Basket?
A banneton basket is basically a container for proofing homemade bread. Also known as “proofing baskets” or “brotforms,” they are designed to hold the shape of the dough as it proofs, yielding a perfectly symmetrical boule. They are typically made of strong, splinter-proof rattan wrapped in a circular coil, which creates that beautiful spiral line design on the top of the boule. Circular bannetons often range in size from 8 to 12 inches in diameter, and you can also find the baskets in oblong or oval varieties to create differently shaped loaves.
How Do I Use a Banneton Basket?
Using a banneton is very simple. For best results, sprinkle the banneton generously with rice flour; if you don’t have rice flour, bread or all-purpose flour will work too. Then, once you’ve shaped your boule, simply place it upside-down (seam-side-up) in the banneton for its long proof—usually an overnight fermentation in the refrigerator.
When you’re ready to bake the next morning, just overturn the banneton basket over some parchment paper so the dough plops onto the paper. Then, use the paper as a “sling” to hoist the dough into a Dutch Oven to bake. You could also place the dough onto a baking sheet, but without a lid, you won’t get as strong of a rise, and the dough is more likely to spread in the oven, undoing much of the banneton’s shaping work.
What Can I Use Instead of a Banneton Basket if I Don’t Have One?
If you don’t have a banneton basket, fear not! You can easily use a basic glass or plastic bowl. For best results, try to find a bowl that is almost as tall as it is wide. This will help the dough holds its round shape as it fights against gravity. Since a normal bowl does not have the flour-holding ridges of a banneton basket, be sure to lightly grease the bowl with cooking spray or olive oil before placing the dough into it, so that it releases effectively. (If you try to flour the bowl, all the flour will just fall off the sides to the bottom.) Then, proof, release and bake the dough as above.
While a banneton basket is not a must-have kitchen item, it can make your loaves substantially more professional, stylish and delicious. Check out our favorite here, as well as our other bread-baking essentials.