What’s a Proofing Basket (Banneton) & How’s It Used for Bread Baking?

updated Aug 10, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Ever wonder how artisan bread bakers get such perfect round loaves every single time? Besides years of practice, they’re using also using a proofing basket to help the loaves keep their shape and structure through their final rise. Proofing baskets aren’t just relegated to the realm of professional baking — they are readily available to home bakers and a cinch to use. Here’s everything you need to know about buying and using proofing baskets, plus what to use while you wait for yours to arrive.

What Is a Proofing Basket?

Also called brotforms and bannetons, proofing baskets can be found in just about every shape and size: round, oval, or long. You can line them with linen for a smooth texture on your bread, or they can be left unlined and the pattern of the basket will imprint on your dough. The gluten relaxes as the dough proofs, causing shaped loaves to spread out and flatten as they rise. A basket supports the dough as it proofs and prevents this from happening.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Brett Regot

How to Use a Proofing Basket

To use one, first prepare the basket by coating it (either the bare basket or the linen liner) throughly with flour and shaking out the excess. Make your bread right through the shaping step. Instead of proofing it on the countertop, dust the surface of the shaped loaf with flour and invert it into the proofing basket so that the “top” of the dough is on the bottom of the basket and the underside is visible.

To bake, lay a piece of parchment on your baking peel or sprinkle the peel with cornmeal. Lightly dust the proofed dough with cornmeal or flour and invert it onto the peel. Slash the top and bake the loaves immediately.

If you’re working with a particularly delicate dough or one that didn’t rise as much, sometimes you’ll need to use one hand to support the underside of the dough so that it doesn’t fall too hard onto the peel and deflate.

No Proofing Basket? No Problem.

You don’t need a proofing basket to make really beautiful loaves at home. Instead line a bowl with a clean kitchen towel and dust the towel generously with flour. Make sure the bowl is at least two times the size of your shaped loaf.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Our Favorite Proofing Baskets

Proofing basket are easy to find both online and at speciality food stores (think: Sur La Table) and range in price from about $15 to $35 depending on their size and material.

Do you use a proofing basket? What are your thoughts?

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