How To: Use + Maintain Banneton Baskets

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Everything you need to know about your banneton basket! Learn how to use, care for, clean, and troubleshoot the use of these proofing baskets.

A few years ago, if you had asked me about baking sourdough bread I’m sure I’d have actually laughed at you. Now, I’m hooked on it. And I’m not the only one!

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Sourdough is making a resurgence, possibly thanks to the virus who shall not be named? Either way, it’s totally rad, and while it’s not complicated, there are a few things to that are helpful learn, so buckle up for a deep dive into bannetons!

Two empty round bannetons.

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What Is A Banneton Basket?

Banneton baskets (or simply bannetons) are also known as brotforms and proofing baskets. While they are not specifically necessary to bake beautiful artisan bread, they are definitely helpful in achieving perfect loaves.

The purpose of a banneton basket is help to add shape and structure to the bread dough during the final rise. The gluten in bread dough has the tendency to relax while proofing, which is great because it allows the dough to rise but it also allows the dough to spread! Keeping the dough in a container that limits the spread encourages the dough to rise higher.

These proving baskets are designed to allow airflow around the loaf during the rising process, but are not meant to bake in! Your basket should never, ever see the oven!

Sourdough loaf showing the rings from the brotform basket.
This classic sourdough loaf was proofed in an unlined round banneton.

Types Of Proofing Baskets

There are a few different types of bread proofing baskets on the market, which one suits your needs is a personal decision based on the type of baker you are.

Cane/Rattan:

These are the most common style of banneton on the market. They are usually reasonably priced, durable, and easy to clean.

Cane rattan bannetons have gaps between the wrapped layers, allowing air to circulate, resulting in a loaf that’s able to grow more efficiently and slightly dries out the outer layer of the dough, creating that irresistible crust we love in a sourdough! These bread proofing baskets sometimes come with a linen liner.

This is the kind I have.

Wood Pulp:

Wood pulp bannetons generally come from Germany and are made with wood pulp or recycled wood materials. They are not as long lasting or as easy to clean as the cane bannetons.

They are, however, a great choice for bakers who love a high hydration dough, as the brotform is able to absorb moisture from the dough giving a crisp crust to the dough.

Plastic:

This is a relative new comer to the bread proofing basket scene. Plastic bannetons are easy to clean and durable. They are more difficult to flour, but they also won’t have moisture/mold issues.

This style of proofing basket has a lot of positives, but it can also hinder the rise on some doughs because of the lack of airflow in and around the dough during the final rise.

Sourdough bread proofing in a round banneton.

Lined Vs. Unlined

Many cane bannetons on the market come with cloth liners. It’s a personal preference on whether to use them or not, and it may even come down to the recipe you’re using!

Lined bannetons will give a smooth surfaced dough, ideal for intricate scoring patterns, while an unlined banneton will showcase the spiral or parallel lines of the proofing basket in the final dough.

If you purchased an unlined banneton and want to try to use a lined version, lay a flour sack cloth or linen cloth dusted with rice flour inside the banneton to achieve the same result.

A loaf of sourdough without grooves from the banneton.
This small batch sourdough loaf was proofed in a lined banneton. It lacks the rings that are achieved from an unlined basket.

Size Guide

The rule of thumb, and this is by no means scientific, is as follows. Calculate the full weight of your dough by adding the weight of the starter, water, flour, salt, and and add ins.

Basket SizeRoundOval
8 inch500g 500g
10 inch2 lb1.75 lb

One important consideration for your banneton size selection is the size of your dutch oven! Choose a proofing basket that fits within your favorite dutch oven – this can be accomplished by simply dropping the basket into your cold dutch oven to see if it fits, or measure the diameter of both to ensure you’ll be able to bake in your dutch oven once the bread has risen in the basket!

My preference, based solely on the fact that I have many round dutch ovens is round baskets. That said, I would love a batard, or oval banneton, if I had the space for an oval dutch oven or Challenger bread pan!

I’m afraid Kevy would threaten divorce if I tried to cram one more piece of cast iron in our kitchen. Ha. I’m only half joking.

Prepare For First Use

Ok! You’ve got a new banneton and a happy sourdough starter. Now what?

  1. Wet a cloth with hot soapy water and wipe the entire surface, inside and out, with the cloth.
  2. Rinse the cloth, and repeat to remove any soapy residue.
  3. Using a clean kitchen towel, wipe the banneton dry.
  4. Sprinkle the clean basket with rice flour and set aside to dry.

That’s it! Consider your new proofing basket ready to use!

Cinnamon raisin sourdough boule in the banneton ready for cold ferment.
Cinnamon raisin sourdough proofing in a banneton.

Proofing Basket Care And Cleaning

Banneton care is super simple!

After each use, you’ll want to invert the basket, tap out the excess flour, and place it somewhere with ample air flow to dry for 1-2 days. It can then be placed in a cupboard for storage.

Avoid storing your proving basket in a bag or sealed container as that will encourage stagnant moisture and mold issues.

Banneton cleaning is also very easy!

If you’ve got some stuck on dough or stubborn flour build up, dry brush the basket with a stiff brush or gently scrape it with a cast iron scraper. I actually have a small hand held dish brush I keep with my bannetons, just for cleaning them.

Cleaning between the wicker helps to ensure you’ll see the beautiful concentric circles on your sourdough.

I know, you’re wondering if you can wash bannetons? It is possible, but should be done very carefully and sparingly. To wash your banneton, soak it in clean, cold water for 10-15 minutes, then scrub with your bristle brush until it’s clean and give it a rinse.

At this point, drying the the basket is very important. It can be set out in the sun, or in a warm place to dry, like the oven with the light on and the door propped open.

A baked sourdough loaf.

How To Use A Banneton

You’ll only use your banneton AFTER the final shaping!

  1. Place the shaped sourdough, seam side up, into a floured banneton basket.
  2. Cover the basket with a clean kitchen towel, shower cap, or plastic bag, and allow the dough to proof until ready to bake.
  3. When ready to bake, carefully turn the banneton over onto a parchment sheet.
  4. Score the dough, and place in preheated dutch oven for baking!
Turning the sourdough out of the banneton onto a parchment sheet.

Covered Or Uncovered?

Once the dough is in the banneton, it’s important to cover the dough to prevent the top (soon to be the bottom) from drying out.

The dough can be covered with a dampened towel, piece of plastic, or even a plastic shower cap. I actually have a great, polka dotted shower cap that I’ve been using for my sourdough for months! It’s easy to rinse, it stretches over a variety of bowls and baking dishes, and its reusable!

Overhead view of the cinnamon sourdough loaf.
Visible banneton lines on this cinnamon raisin sourdough loaf!

Banneton Troubleshooting

Dough sticking to banneton:

This is a simple fix! The dough is likely sticking to the banneton because you’ve not used enough flour in the basket OR you’ve used the wrong type of flour in the basket.

Next time you use your banneton, use more flour, or try rice flour. Rice flour is a great sourdough flour because it contains no gluten and won’t turn into glue when it is moistened by your dough.

Dough flattens when turned out of banneton:

If your dough flattens once it’s turned out of the the proofing basket, it could be that the dough has too high of a hydration level, or that the dough hasn’t had enough surface tension built in during the shaping stage.

Next time, try to use a recipe with a hydration level under 75% and really work on the the final shaping stage, pulling the dough from the base to create a very taut skin.

Use Your Banneton With These Recipes

Banneton Alternatives

If you’re like me and live in a small town in the middle of nowhere, you might be wondering what to do if you don’t have access to a store with bread baking tools and supplies. Well, you make a DIY proofing basket, because you can make sourdough without a banneton.

In the past years, I’ve used a glass bowl lined with a floured flour sack cloth, and placed my boules in a parchment lined pot approximately the size of my dutch oven.

Another great banneton substitute would be a fabric lined colander or wicker basket. Both of these options allow airflow around your loaf without requiring another another kitchen thing, especially if you’re the kind of bread baker with all the accoutrement.

Proofing dough in glass bowl lined with flour sack towel.

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