First Off, What Does It Mean for Bread to “proof”?
In the simplest terms, proofing is the process of raising dough so that it can be baked. The most common way to do this is by letting the dough rise in an oven or on a baking sheet until doubled in size. This method works well for many types of bread and rolls, but there are some bread recipes where you want to use a banneton (pronounced ban-nay-ton) instead. A banneton is essentially a large, shallow bowl with a lid. You place your dough inside the banneton, cover it with plastic wrap, then put it into a warm spot to let it rise. Once the dough has risen enough, you remove the plastic wrap and bake the bread right out of the banneton.
Why Is Proofing Important?
Proofing allows the gluten in your dough to develop properly. If you don’t allow your dough to fully proof before baking, you run the risk of having dense, heavy loaves. On the other hand, if you overproof your dough, you’ll end up with airy, light loaves.
What Is a Proofing Basket?
A proofing basket is simply a large container that holds your dough while it proofs, allowing you to create perfectly shaped bread every time. The best proofing baskets are made from light, breathable materials like rattan or wood pulp. The best proofing baskets will create a beautiful pattern on the dough so that it bakes into a professional-looking loaf. They’re also usually quite deep so your dough will rise evenly throughout.
How to Use a Proofing Basket
To use a proofing basket, first, mix your ingredients together and transfer them to the basket. Cover the top of the basket with plastic wrap (or a clean kitchen towel) and place it in a warm spot. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Remove the cover and gently press down on the surface of the dough to deflate it slightly. Transfer the dough to an oiled pan and bake as desired.
How to prepare a new banneton
If you want to use a banneton basket, you need to dust the interior of the basket with flour. This prevents the dough from sticking to the sides of the basket. You can sprinkle water on the inside of the basket and then sprinkle all-purpose flour (or rice flour as the best option) over the wet area.
How to remove the dough from the banneton
Once the dough has risen, gently peel away the plastic wrap or cloth covering the top of the banneton. Then, flip the banneton upside down onto the prepared baking sheet or tin. Do not place the proofing basket in the oven as it is a fire hazard.
How to clean a banneton after use
After using the banneton, knock out any loose flour. A little bit of flour remaining in the banneton is okay, this provides seasoning for future baking. After a few uses, it is best to scrub out the excess with cold water and a stiff brush. If using a liner, wash it in warm soapy water. It is critical to make sure the proofing basket dries completely, as it can develop mold if not dried properly. A great way to dry the banneton after each use is to place it on top of the oven while the bread bakes – the excess heat will help dry the proofing basket.
Our Favorite Proofing Basket Set
Our favorite proofing basket set is the Abioto proofing basket set, it includes a round proofing basket for round loaves AND an oblong proofing basket for skinny loaves with liners for both. It also comes with a danish whisk for mixing the dough, scrapers to help work the dough, and a bread lame to score the loaf and create a beautiful professional-looking loaf. You can find the Abioto all-in-one complete baking set here