What is a Proving Basket?
The proving basket, known in France as a Banneton and in Germany as a Brotform – and all three in English is used to support the bread dough while it proves just before it is baked. They give support the hand-shaped dough which is particularly important with doughs with a high water content and with slow-proving naturally-leavened breads.
Cane Baskets are the most popular proving baskets at BakeryBits. They give an attractive, traditional swirl pattern to the bread, a hallmark of artisan bread. They come in a few, simple shapes including round, oval and baton or baguette and are listed by the nominal amount of dough they are intended for. So, a 500g round banneton, is designed to hold about 500g of dough, 1kg for 1kg dough and so on (exact quantities depend on the specific recipe you choose, but this is a good guide).
With or Without a Liner?
Cane Baskets can be used with or without a liner. Traditionally, cane baskets are used without a liner as the characteristic markings are more pronounced. The cane basket is liberally dusted with flour, preferably rye, to ensure that the dough does not stick when tipped out for baking.
It is possible to use other flours and you may like to experiment. Potato flour, for instance, gives very white rings and patterns and does not go brown when baked. Try others such as rice for different effects, but rye is the usual one.
The washable liners are good to use if the dough has a strong, say onion, flavour that might taint future doughs. If using a liner the you should also apply a good dusting of flour to help avoid any sticking.
When the dough has been shaped ready for the final prove, it should be placed upside down into the floured basket then left in a warm place, covered with a damp cloth (to prevent a dry skin forming) until you are ready to bake the bread.
Just before the dough is to go into the oven, it must be tipped out of the basket (on no account should the basket go into the oven). You may wish to tip onto a baking sheet and pop it straight into the oven, or you may want to tip it onto a semolina-dusted peel for a fast drop into the oven and onto a baking stone.
When the dough has been tipped out, you can either wash the basket out completely or leave it to dry and then brush out the excess flour with a stiff brush. The key to looking after them is to keep them dry when not in use and not allow them to sit around with lots of damp flour in them.
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