Whether you are new to bread-making or an experienced bread veteran, you should know that a banneton is a useful tool when it comes to maintaining the shape of your dough as it proves. These specially designed baskets are commonly used for sourdough bread, but they work for other types as well.
These basket-shaped tools can be made of several materials, including wicker, terracotta, cane, and wood. These baskets can come lined, but often people place their dough directly in the banneton itself.
Bannetons come in a few sizes, including a round basket and a more elongated shape if you want an oblong loaf. No matter what the material or shape is, ensure your banneton is seasoned every time you use it.
What Does a Banneton Do?
The sourdough dough is on the wetter side. As a result, it can often spread during the proofing process. A banneton combats this issue by keeping the dough in place as it proves. The result is an even loaf with plenty of support.
A banneton can still benefit other types of bread even if they may not encounter the issues that sourdough does. The banneton allows you to create even loaves, no matter what type of bread you are making.
How to Season a Banneton
Seasoning a banneton involves only a few small steps. However, each of those steps is important.
Thoroughly Spray With Water
The first step is to spray the banneton thoroughly and evenly with water. You do not necessarily want it to be sopping wet. You want to make sure that all parts of the inside of the banneton are wet. While a spray bottle is highly functional in this case, you can also just run the basket under a tap.
Typically, you will only need to do this step the first time you use your banneton. However, it is okay if you need to do this a few times before the basket develops a seasoning.
Evenly Coat the Inside With Flour
This step is where the seasoning happens. Coat the inside of the banneton with an even layer of flour. There are a few ways that you can accomplish this. You can pour a small amount of flour into the basket and rotate it accordingly, helping it cover every part of the inside of the banneton.
For this step, you can use any flour you want. You can even combine a few different types to explore their properties. Rice flour is particularly good at preventing sticking, while rye absorbs moisture very well. Bread flour should not be used for seasoning since it can combine into the bread. However, you can mix it with other types.
Some people think they do not need to season a banneton if it has a cloth liner. However, this is not the case. Seasoning is essential even if you have a liner because the dough can stick to the fabric.
While you do not need to add flour every time you use your banneton, you should always check to see if you need to.
Clean and Dry Before Storing
It is normal to use the same seasoning a few times in a row. So, you do not need to fully clean your banneton every time you use it. However, it is necessary to remove excess flour about once a month. This timeline will vary depending on how much you use the banneton. You can do this with a dry brush.
Ensure that your banneton is dry before you store it since mold and bacteria can grow in a moist banneton. You can ensure that your banneton is dry before storing it by letting it rest on the oven while you bake your bread. The heat will help any remaining water evaporate.
Why Is Seasoning a Banneton Important?
Seasoning your banneton is vital because it keeps the dough from sticking to the basket. This step is important because a major goal of the banneton is to keep your dough in shape as it proves. Getting stuck to the banneton may cause the dough to fall out of shape.
The addition of flour also prevents your dough from drying out. This protection is important because a dry dough can lose its texture and fail to rise.
Seasoning and then cleaning the banneton are vital for health reasons as well. Cleaning the banneton at regular intervals should be considered part of the seasoning process. If the banneton is not cleaned correctly, you risk the development of mold and bacteria.
Using a banneton is a simple but effective way to maintain the shape of your dough. The key to the banneton is keeping it seasoned and cleaning it regularly. Follow the simple steps in this article to achieve the well-shaped bread of your dreams.