Throughout 2020, many of us tried out new hobbies- I became a gardener, tried (and failed) to learn guitar, and started learning a new language. One trend that went viral was sourdough bread baking, causing pictures of sourdough bread to take the internet by storm. This was a trend that anyone with a kitchen and a sourdough starter could join, and what better hobby than one that results in a yummy loaf of bread? However, first-time bakers may have noticed that even the most delicious loaves of bread aren't always perfectly shaped. To make flawlessly round loaves of bread, a bread proofing basket is the way to go.
Bread Proofing Baskets
While most home bakers can make a decent loaf, it's hard to ignore that artisan bread bakers somehow always make beautifully round loaves. Although the years of practice don't hurt, the proofing baskets that artisans use is definitely part of the equation. Proofing baskets allow the loaves to maintain their shape throughout their final rise, resulting in round, high-quality loaves.
Proofing baskets, also called brotforms or bread bannetons, are found in many shapes and sizes. Depending on what types of loaves you're hoping to bake, you can choose a round, oval or long proofing basket. For bread bakers who dream of perfectly round bread, a round basket is ideal. Oval proofing baskets are also a popular shape.
This wonderful bread making tool prevents the dough from spreading and flattening as it rises, which is what happens if the dough rises without a container. Some bread makers line their baskets with a cloth liner for a smooth texture, and others prefer to allow the basket's pattern to shape the dough.
If this inspires you to invest in a bread proofing basket, they can be found on Amazon or in the kitchen sections of specialty stores. This 10 and 9-inch Banneton bread proofing basket set comes with bread tools like a dough scraper and liner. It's made with rattan cane material which has a smooth surface ideal for dough, along with spiral pattern baskets for beautifully patterned bread.
How To Use A Bread Proofing Basket
Start by coating your basket with flour, then shake out the excess flour. If using a linen liner, place the liner in before the flour. Use your bread recipe to combine ingredients, knead the dough, and shape it into a ball. Here's where your bread proofing basket comes in.
Sprinkle the dough with flour, and then place it into the basket upside down, so that the top is on the bottom of the basket. Allow your dough to rise as you would normally!
Once your dough has risen, follow the rest of your bread recipe, preparing your baking sheet or baking tin. Divide your loaf in half with a bench scraper and use a sharp knife or bread lame to score the loaves with slashes for professional-looking bread.
If you don't have a proofing basket but would like a similar result, you can use a proofing bowl by lining a bowl with a clean towel and covering it with a layer of flour. Ensure that your bowl is at least twice the size of the loaf pre-rise. Although this will produce an excellent loaf of bread, a bread proofing basket is the ultimate bread baking tool for fancy bread loaves that look just like the ones sold at the bakery down the street!