Learn all about how to use a banneton basket for baking artisan style breads and sourdoughs. These baskets are what gives the beautiful spiral ring pattern on rustic breads.
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What is a Banneton Basket?
Have you ever wondered how beautiful artisan loaves of bread have that spiral pattern on the crust? The baker used a banneton basket to proof their bread!
A banneton basket, also known as a proofing basket or brotform, is a tool bakers use when baking artisan style breads like sourdough. They are wicker baskets that baker’s put their shaped loaf into while it proofs. The basket helps the loaf hold its shape while it rises, so that the dough rises up instead of spreading out.
I have a full video on my YouTube channel all about prepping, using, and caring for your banneton basket. The video is part of my Sourdough for Beginners series where we make a sourdough starter from scratch and learn to bake with it! Banneton baskets are one of the optional tools I suggest in my sourdough bread making equipment list, but they are really nice to have on hand!
How to Prep a New Banneton Basket
When you get a new banneton basket you will need to prep it. Get the basket damp and then give it a good dusting with rice flour and let it dry completely. You will want to do this at least an hour before your proof your first loaf of bread so it has time to fully dry.
This base coat that you will do when you first get your basket will ensure that your dough doesn’t stick to the basket. The reason you want to use rice flour instead of regular flour made from wheat, is because wheat contains proteins in it that forms into gluten when it gets wet. When your loaf goes into the basket, the moisture from the dough can start creating gluten with the flour and cause it to stick. Rice flour does not have this issue.
Some bakers do use a combination of rice flour and wheat flour. But I prefer to just use rice flour and have had the most success with this.
How to Prep a Banneton Basket for Proofing Dough
Before you proof each loaf of bread, you want to dust your basket with rice flour again. The coating of rice flour will make sure that the loaf definitely doesn’t stick to the basket.
I like to use a little tea strainer as my tool for dusting the rice flour in my proofing basket. It is the perfect little sifter to get the flour in all the nooks and crannies.
Using a Liner on the Banneton Basket
Some banneton baskets come with a cloth liner that you can put over the basket if you do not want the spiral pattern. A lot of bread bakers use this if they will be scoring intricate patters in their loaves.
To use a banneton liner, place it over the basket and then dust it well with rice flour. Then you can shape and put your loaf in the basket to proof.
If you have dusted the liner well, you likely won’t need to clean it between every bake. Just shake off the flour and store it. When you do need to clean it, hand wash it with water (do not use soap) and let it dry completely before your next bake.
Can you Put a Banneton in the Oven?
You absolutely do not want to put your banneton basket (proofing basket) in the oven. The basket is only used for proofing your dough, not for baking in it.
Once your dough is fully proofed, you will turn the dough out onto the baking surface or onto a piece of parchment paper to prepare it for baking. The loaf should hold its shape and retain the beautiful spiral pattern from the basket.
How to Clean a Banneton Basket
You never want to use soap on your banneton basket, but you can rinse them out if they start to get a little bit crusty. I don’t do this after every bake because if you have dusted them well with rice flour, they should be nice and dry for the next bake.
When I do need to clean my proofing basket, I will rinse it with water and use a clean dry brush to help scrape out any bits of dough that have dried on. Then use a towel to dry it so it isn’t soaking wet and is just damp. Then give your basket a fresh coating of rice flour and let that dry, just as you do with your new basket.
What can I use Instead of a Banneton Basket
If you do not have a banneton basket, you can use a mixing bowl instead! Line the bowl with a clean lint free towel and dust that with rice flour. Then you can shape and proof your dough in the bowl.
This method obviously will not give your loaves the spiral pattern as proofing baskets do. But a bowl will do the trick to hold the shape of your loaf as it proofs, which is the main function of a banneton basket anyway!