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The Best Bannetons
For the best-looking bread, put your dough in a (proofing) basket.
What You Need To Know
Our favorite round and oval bannetons and their corresponding round and oval liners are made by Breadtopia. These rattan bannetons and cotton liners sometimes take a few uses to acquire the “seasoning” that allows them to release dough easily, but we ultimately prefer them because they allow us to decorate the bread in different ways. If the Breadtopia models are out of stock, we also recommend the similar (albeit more expensive) round banneton and liner set by the King Arthr Baking Company. We also like the wood pulp bannetons from Flourside. You don’t need a liner to use these bannetons—the wettest doughs released effortlessly, even on the first use, making them especially easy to use. If you want more of a blank canvas for scoring, however, you’ll need to buy a separate liner; without it, you’ll always see the imprint of the bannetons’ textured surface.
A banneton—sometimes called a proofing basket or brotform—is essentially a basket that holds bread dough and helps give it structure as it proofs. Technically, nobody needs a banneton. As we note in our Almost No-Knead Sourdough Bread 2.0 and Classic Sourdough Bread (Pain au Levain) recipes, you can simply proof bread in a colander lined with a dish towel. But if you’re baking a loaf a week, it might be time to free up that colander and invest in a banneton. A banneton allows you to give your bread a wider variety of decorative looks.
You can use a banneton on its own, dusted with flour to prevent the dough from sticking. When you do this, the weave or textured surface of the banneton will imprint upon the dough, leaving a decorative pattern when the loaf is baked.
You can also use most bannetons with a cloth liner, sold separately or sometimes sold in a set with the banneton. The liner helps prevent your dough from sticking to the basket when you try to turn it out for baking—a frustrating problem that can deform or flatten your painstakingly prepared bread. (“There’s nothing worse,” said Andrea Geary, deputy food editor at Cook’s Illustrated.) The liner isn’t just an insurance policy against sticking dough, either; it also keeps the surface of your dough smooth, allowing your scoring pattern to shine.
For this testing, we started with round bannetons measuring about 9 inches in diameter. Bannetons of this shape and size are the most commonly available type, and they’re best for proofing loaves weighing up to a kilogram, which most of our recipes make. Where applicable, we also tested the manufacturers’ corresponding liners. The bannetons came in different materials (rattan, plastic, wood pulp, and wicker), as did the liners (cotton and linen). After we’d foun...
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