The Correct Usage of Dough Proofing Basket and Its Alternatives

A dough-proofing basket, also known as a banneton or brotform, adds the perfect rustic touch to your homemade bread.

These baskets are used to shape dough before baking and can be a great asset in the kitchen. But what if you don’t have a proofing basket or want to make one on your own?

Not to worry, there are plenty of alternatives that can help you bake delicious bread with ease. Many people also don’t know the correct usage of these baskets so we will cover that topic too.

What Are Some Alternatives to Proofing Baskets?

Here are some alternatives to proofing baskets:

1. Colander or Bowls:

A colander or bowl can be an effective replacement for a proofing basket. To use, lightly grease the inside of the colander or bowl with oil or butter, and then place your shaped dough inside the vessel.

Make sure to cover it with cling film or a damp cloth so it doesn’t dry out during fermentation. This method is best used for freeform loaves, such as boules and baguettes since the dough will hold its shape better than in other vessels. 

2. Mixing Bowls 

Mixing bowls are one of the most popular alternatives to proofing baskets because they provide an excellent environment for fermentation due to their slightly rounded shape which helps support and keep your dough from spreading out too much during fermentation.

Simply grease your bowl lightly with oil or butter and place your shaped dough inside before covering it with plastic wrap or a damp cloth.

You may need to add more flour while shaping depending on how sticky your dough is; this will help maintain its shape in the bowl while rising. 

3. Casserole Dishes 

Casserole dishes can be used much like mixing bowls, but they provide larger surface areas for shaping large loaves of bread such as sourdough and sandwich loaves.

Grease your casserole dish with oil or butter before placing your shaped loaf inside, making sure that there is enough room around the sides for expansion during fermentation.

Cover it with plastic wrap or damp cloth before leaving it to rise until doubled in size.  

Are Proofing Baskets Worth It?

Proofing baskets can be a great addition to any baker’s kitchen. They provide an excellent environment for fermentation, help maintain the shape of your dough while rising, and they look great on display in your kitchen.

proofing basket

However, if you don’t have one or are looking for an alternative, there are plenty of options that work just as well.

With the right techniques and a little bit of practice, you can still make delicious bread without proofing baskets.  

What Makes a Good Proofing Basket?

1. Material Matters 

The material of your dough-proofing basket matters. Baskets made from natural materials like rattan cane, wood pulp, linen, or cloth will provide better air circulation than plastic or metal options.

This encourages even fermentation and helps create a beautiful crust. Many bakers prefer rattan cane because it’s lightweight and durable—it won’t crack over time like some other materials—and it helps give your loaves an attractive shape.

If you’re looking for something cheaper but still effective, there are also plastic-coated wire baskets available that can be used with great success.

2. Size Matters Too 

The size of your basket matters too! If you buy a basket that’s too small for the amount of dough you intend to prove in it, the results won’t be ideal—the dough will expand beyond the walls of the basket, resulting in an unevenly shaped loaf.

On the other hand, if you get a basket that’s too large for your needs, it may not be able to properly support and shape the dough during its rise in the oven.

Try to find a size that fits the amount of dough you typically make; if possible opt for something with adjustable sides so that you can use it for larger batches when needed. 

How Do You Make a Proofing Basket?

You can pick up all the supplies you need for this project at any craft store. You will need: 

• 1/2 yard of cotton fabric – look for medium-weight cotton in either a light or dark color 

• Thread – to match your fabric 

• Scissors – or a rotary cutter with a cutting mat if you have one 

• Measuring tape – or ruler if you don’t have a measuring tape 

Process:

  • Cut Fabric and Sew Seams  Begin by cutting two pieces of fabric that are each 12 inches wide and 25 inches long.
  • Sew them together along both long sides using a 1/4-inch seam allowance.
  • Turn the tube right side out so that the seams are hidden inside and press flat.  
  • Measure and Mark Fabric  Now measure and mark off four-inch intervals along one length of your tube until you reach 24 inches (it should take 6 marks). This is where we will create our spiral pattern.  

Create Spiral Pattern:

From this point on, it’s best to work on a flat surface like a table or countertop because it allows more room for manipulating the fabric into place as needed.

  • Starting at one end of your tube, fold in half so that the two short ends meet each other in the middle (see image).
  • Now hold this fold in place and begin rolling up tightly towards the other end of your tube, keeping those 4-inch intervals straight.
  • When you get to 10 inches from the end, tuck in both edges of the fabric before continuing on with your roll toward the end of your tube (see image).  

Secure Folded End  

Once you reach the end of your roll, tuck in any excess fabric before sewing across to secure it (you can also use pins if needed).

When finished, turn the right side out again and press flat to ensure everything is nice and neat looking before using it with your dough!  

Can I Use Any Basket to Proof Bread?

Yes, you can certainly use any basket to proof bread if you don’t have a traditional proofing basket.

For example, if you are short on space or don’t want to invest in a proofing basket, you can easily make do with something like a colander, bowl, or even an overturned pot!

Just make sure whatever you use is clean and large enough for the amount of dough you’ll be proofing.

Should I Use a Liner in My Proofing Basket?

Liners are not necessary for proofing bread, but some bakers like to use them as they help keep the dough from sticking too much to the basket’s walls.

You can buy ready-made liners or you can make your own out of clean, unbleached cotton fabric.

Overall, it’s really a matter of personal preference as to whether or not you decide to use a liner in your proofing basket.

Do You Flour a Proofing Basket?

Yes, you do need to flour your proofing basket before adding the dough. Flouring helps keep the dough from sticking too much as it rises, making it easier to turn out when ready.

You can use any type of flour for this — all-purpose, white, whole, wheat, rye, etc. Just make sure to coat the entire inside of your basket with an even layer of flour before adding the dough.

How Do You Use a Proofing Basket for the First Time?

When using a proofing basket for the first time, you will want to make sure to season it properly by coating the entire inside with a thin layer of vegetable oil.

This helps create a non-stick surface that will help keep your dough from sticking and make it easier to turn out when ready. Simply apply the oil with a pastry brush or a clean cloth and then wipe off any excess oil with a paper towel.

Once seasoned, you will be ready to use your proofing basket! Make sure to remember to flour it before adding the dough for the best results.

What Is the Best Size Proofing Basket?

The best size proofing basket will depend on the type of bread you plan to make and how many loaves you need.

Generally speaking, it’s better to go with a larger proofing basket as it can usually accommodate larger batches of dough — just make sure to check the dimensions before purchasing!

For smaller amounts of dough, round-proofing baskets tend to be the most convenient and space-saving option. However, if you are looking to make more than one loaf of bread at a time, then a rectangular-shaped basket might be better suited for your needs.

No matter which size and shape you choose, just remember that it should be able to accommodate all of your dough with plenty of room for it to rise!

Take note that you can also find multi-size proofing baskets, which allow you to proof different amounts of dough depending on the size. These are a great option if you plan on baking multiple types and sizes of bread or need to adjust your quantity regularly.

Conclusion:

Proofing baskets are great tools for making delicious bread at home but there are plenty of alternatives if you don’t have one handy!

Colanders, mixing bowls, and casserole dishes can all create an ideal environment for fermentation when combined with a light greasing (with oil/butter) and covering (with plastic wrap/damp cloth).

Making your own dough-proofing basket is not difficult once you know what supplies are needed and how to correctly construct it. With just some basic sewing skills, patience, and some practice this project can be easily accomplished by anyone who enjoys baking artisan-style bread at home!

So get creative in the kitchen – explore different shapes and sizes of vessels – and see what works best when creating your own homemade bread! Good luck!

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About the author

Natalie is a food enthusiast who spends all of her time trying out new recipes, testing out new appliances, and making her kitchen as awesome as possible. She is a professional writer and blogs here about her love of food & kitchen.

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