Using the right tools in the kitchen can elevate your food from good to great. The difference between a pretty good loaf of bread and bakery-quality work may come down to something as simple as where you choose to proof your dough!
That’s where bannetons come in. Bannetons are very useful and easy to use, but they come in many shapes and sizes. That’s why we’ve created this banneton size guide to help you make your decision. If you’re unsure of what size banneton is right for you, this guide will get you on the right track.
We’ll go through everything from what precisely a banneton is, what it does, and things you should know about them to get you on the right track.
What are we waiting for? Let’s get right into it, shall we?
What is a Banneton?
If you are enthusiastic about bread baking, the chances are good that you already know what a banneton is. For the uninitiated, a banneton– also called a proofing basket– is a special container designed to hold your bread dough during its final rise.
A typical bread dough’s final rise– also called the final proof– can be anywhere between a few minutes and a whole day. During that time, the yeast in the dough is still active, and it’s consuming the sugars in the dough.
This process of proofing generates a lot of carbon dioxide. It gets caught in a network of the dough’s remaining glutens and creates air pockets throughout it. This stage is critical to getting the right texture for your bread; it also causes the loaf to double in size! During this stage, a banneton helps the unbaked loaf keep its shape.
You can use a banneton while making just about any type of bread, but they are especially popular with sourdough fans. Sourdough bread consists of high-moisture dough, which means it doesn’t hold its shape as well as other, lower moisture loaves of bread. The banneton holds your dough in the desired shape during its final rise.
Bannetons come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, all of which are useful, but which is best for you? Read on to find out for yourself!
Bannetons by Shape
Bannetons come in several different shapes. This is because the shape of your banneton determines what shape your final bread loaf will take.
The two most common shapes for bannetons are ovular and circular. An oval-shaped banneton is excellent for shaping classic loaves and batards. This shape works well for making sandwich bread. A round banneton is perfectly circular and designed to make bread boules. “Boule” is French for “ball.” These large rounds are the ideal shape for bread bowls.
Other traditional shapes for bannetons include the extra-long variety, used to shape baguettes, and the couronne banneton, which has a divot in the middle that allows you to braid and decorate your dough more easily. Bannetons can also come in novel shapes like squares, triangles, hearts, stars, and many more!
What size banneton for tartine bread?
If you’re trying to make tartine bread, then you a banneton oval-shaped and 10-12 inches long.
Banneton Size Guide
Bannetons come in even more sizes than they do shapes! The best banneton size for you will vary from recipe to recipe. It all depends on how much bread you want one loaf to yield. Use our banneton size guide as a reference when deciding which banneton to use.
Before selecting a banneton for your baking project, consider the recipe’s yield, and make sure your banneton (or bannetons) are large enough to accommodate it. If your banneton is too tiny, then your dough will ooze over the side. This will not only ruin the loaf’s shape but will also interfere with its rise and texture.
By that token, it is also essential to be sure that your banneton is not too large for your dough either. If your dough doesn’t fill most of the banneton, it will spread out, causing it to lose shape. Again, this will not just affect the way your final product looks. It will also deflate the tension you’ve built into the dough by kneading and shaping it.
This will make your oven spring much weaker and spoil its texture as well. You want your banneton to achieve a happy medium: it’s not so big as to let your dough relax, but it isn’t so small that the dough’s shape is compromised!
When you choose a banneton, ensure that it accommodates your dough’s total weight. Each size of banneton has a recommended capacity. A round 7-inch banneton will be the right size for 300-400 grams of dough. Remember: that’s total dough weight. The weight of your flour and your final product will differ from the weight of your bread dough.
Here’s an interesting mathematical quirk: the shape of your banneton will alter the weight it can accommodate. For example, a round banneton with a 10-inch diameter will hold up to 1000 grams of dough and produce a 1000-gram boule. However, an ovular banneton with a 10-inch diameter will only hold up to 800 grams.
If you’re wondering “what size brotform do I need” then you can really use the same size guide for a banneton. The internal shape is very similar. A brotform is usually made from wood pulp, this doesn’t allow air to circulate and does provide a different style of bread but with a similar volume.
Things to Consider
Bread baking is a science, and it requires a bit of forethought and preplanning. When baking bread, the worst thing you can do is just to wing it! Bread comes out perfectly only when we give it the attention and detail required. Here are a few points to keep in mind as you’re shopping for bannetons:
Your Bread’s Weight Will Change in the Oven
The weight of your dough will change after it has been cooked and cooled. This happens because being in the hot oven causes it to lose moisture very quickly. Remember, the kinds of doughs you will need a banneton for are high hydration, so they will be quite a bit lighter coming out of the oven than they are going in.
For example, it is common for sourdough loaves of bread to lose nearly 25% of their total weight after cooling! Depending on the recipe and baking conditions, even drier doughs will still lose at least 2-3%. This is why it is crucial to choose your banneton based on your dough’s total weight.
The Cookware You Use Makes a Difference
If you’re baking your bread in a dutch oven, you need to be confident that your bread loaf will fit inside comfortably. A good rule of thumb is that if the banneton fits inside the dutch oven easily, the loaf itself will fit.
If you are in the market for a new banneton, it may also be worth considering its material and the other bread baking tools that they might come with! The wicker weaving is porous and full of gaps. If you plan to use a banneton to hold a high hydration dough, buying a wicker-proofing basket with a linen lining is necessary.
These gaps expose your dough to the air while it proofs, encouraging it to rise. Likewise, the linen linings will help to prevent your dough from sticking to the sides of the proofing basket. These linings also produce a smoother crust, making cleaning the bannetons a lot easier.
Different Loaves of Bread Need Different Bannetons
Your choice of banneton will naturally be informed by what kind of bread you are baking and why you are baking it. If you want to bake a loaf of bread just for fun, your selection of proofing baskets need only be limited by the size of your dutch oven!
On the other hand, if you have a specific dish in mind, you will want to weigh your options more carefully. Generally, a 700-gram batard will yield more bread slices than a 700-gram boule, but the slices from a 700-gram boule will be much larger than those from a 700-gram batard. You can even get mini round bannetons if you’re making bread rolls!
Bannetons are at their most useful when you are working with high hydration doughs, such as sourdough. However, they will come in handy no matter what kind of bread you are baking. If you bake bread frequently, you may want to consider buying several different bannetons or even duplicates of the same size and shape to bake two or more loaves of bread simultaneously.
Ultimately, the right banneton for you depends on what shape and size you want your loaf to be. Think about the baking projects you plan to work on: are you making bread rolls for your next big family dinner, or are you simply looking for a way to streamline the process of baking your weekly sandwich loaf? The shape and size of the bread you want to make will dictate which banneton is right for you.
Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and look for the perfect banneton for you now!