You probably already have something at home that can be used as a proofing basket alternative.
Bulk proofing sourdough bread dough can be done in many containers instead of a proofing basket. Rattan or wood pulp are typically used for proofing baskets.
Proofing baskets like these are great for wicking away moisture from bread dough and are therefore great for making sourdough.
If there’s a shortage of proofing baskets, what do you do?
I’m going to give you 5 different containers in order of most favorable to least favorable.
If you line them with fabric such as a tea towel, you can use them instead of a proofing basket:
- Stainless steel or glass bowls
- Garden pot made from terra cotta
- Wicker baskets
- A heavy linen or cloth that holds the shape of the dough
Just because you’re waiting, or can’t find a bread proofing basket, doesn’t mean you can’t make bread. Go in there and get started with what you already have!
10 Banneton Alternatives
As an alternative to a proofing basket, here are 10 things:
When you’re in a pinch, you can proof your bread in a wok. Your dough will be supported by that rounded base, even though it’s not ideal.
To keep your dough from getting soggy, line the wok with a thin cotton tea towel or other cloth.
It’s also good for lifting out the dough when it’s ready to bake.
2. Loaf Pan
Using a loaf pan can be a great alternative to a proofing basket because you can bake a loaf-shaped sourdough. Makes a great sandwich!
If you don’t have a batard, you can shape your regular sourdough into one and put it in an oiled loaf tin.
Let it cool, then bake it. There are some techniques you can use without a Dutch oven to make sourdough. Will talk about them in a separate article.
3. Heavy Linen Tea Towel (DIY Banneton)
Use a heavy linen tea towel to make a DIY banneton. To support the dough, the linen needs to be thick.
Check out this DIY banneton you can make with a linen tea towel:
Fold the tea towel into an accordion using your hands.
Secure one end with an elastic band or string. It needs to be tight.
Smooth out the cloth close to the elastic band to make a nest for your dough.
The dough should be placed as close to the elastic band as possible.
You’ll need another elastic band to secure the other end.
The DIY banneton can be covered with a plastic food cover or placed in a plastic bag and in the fridge.
I’d highly recommend coating your dough with corn meal or rice flour before using this method to prevent it from sticking.
The key to getting a nice, smooth skin on your dough is to make sure it has a strong gluten network and tight shaping.
4. Ricotta Basket
You can use a ricotta basket instead of a proofing basket or banneton. The supermarket usually has two sizes – 500g and 1kg.
It’s easier to work with 500g dough than 1kg because it tends to spread out too much.
Line the ricotta basket with a thin cloth. It’s best to use an old, clean cotton pillowcase.
Make sure the dough doesn’t stick by rubbing it with rice flour.
It’ll have a bumpy pattern from the basket.
If you live in a humid environment and are worried about mold, these plastic baskets are great.
To proof my small batch sourdough bread, I use these ricotta baskets.
5. Terracotta Pot
As an alternative to a proofing basket, you could use a clean terracotta pot.
There are some terracotta pots that contain chemicals you don’t want near your bread dough, so be careful.
This is why I recommend lining the pot with a cloth.
You might be able to find one that’s shorter and wider instead of the traditional shape in some garden centers.
Terracotta pots aren’t good for baking bread. You can get chemicals in your bread from the pot.
A couche, typically crafted from dense linen fabric, has been conventionally utilized for supporting baguettes. Nevertheless, it could also serve as a suitable resting tool for batards.
To facilitate the transfer of the dough to the refrigerator for a cold retard, the couche needs to be positioned on a baking peel or tray.
It’s advisable to prevent the loaves from expanding outward by placing a weighty book or similar object at each end.
You have the option to purchase a pre-stitched couche or craft one using a robust linen tea towel.
7. Thermomix Basket
There might be one or two simmer baskets laying around the kitchen if you own a Thermomix.
These proofers are ideal for smaller loaves. After bulk ferment (after shaping), I divide my Thermomix sourdough recipe into two boules.
The best way to do it is with a small piece of cotton cloth rubbed well with rice flour (an old pillow case works well).
They allow the dough to breathe, just like colanders and baskets.
In the same way as the ricotta basket below, a metal or plastic colander can be used as a proofing basket alternative.
If your dough is smaller, it will be more stable and will not spread out as much.
9. Wicker Basket
Another alternative to a banneton is a wicker basket. A dollar store or kitchen store is usually a good place to find them for a reasonable price.
It is important to purchase natural baskets. If the basket is coated in chemicals, you shouldn’t use it.
If you choose to line it with a cloth, it will function equally well as a banneton without a liner.
If you proof your dough either way, the pattern of the basket will be imprinted on it.
10. Bowl (Ceramic, Stainless Steel, Glass)
As an alternative to a banneton, you can use a bowl.
Regardless of the size of your kitchen, you are certain to have a bowl suitable for the task.
There are many types of bowls, such as ceramic, stainless steel, glass, wood, and even plastic.
Since a tea towel or some kind of cloth will be lined inside, it doesn’t matter what the bowl is made of.
My stainless-steel mixing bowl has been used many times. My preference is to use a banneton, I will not hide it.
In the past, I used a stainless-steel mixing bowl lined with a thin, cotton tea towel before purchasing my bannetons.
What Is Proofing?
Seeing as how sourdough involves proofing, what does it actually mean?
Proofing is the process of letting the dough rest after it has been shaped. There are many different names for sourdough, so this can be confusing.
The cold retard, cold proof, or even the second rise are some of the terms people use to describe it (which causes a great deal of confusion).
There is a difference between proofing and bulk fermentation, but some people use the terms interchangeably.
What Is A Proofing Basket?
Traditionally, proofing baskets (or bannetons) are made of rattan and are intended for artisan bread proofing or resting.
Most commonly, it is used for sourdough, but yeasted breads can also be made with it.
As the dough proofs, it breathes through a proofing basket. During this final rest, it also maintains its shape.
To make sourdough bread properly, you need the right banneton size.
What Cloth Should I Use?
It is more than likely that you will need to line a proofing basket alternative with a cloth before you can use it.
It is recommended that you use a thin, cotton or linen cloth. There is nothing better than a thin linen tea towel, napkin, or even a pillowcase.
In order to ensure that your loaf does not deform in shape, do not use anything too thick when lining a basket.
It is also recommended to avoid using thick, fluffy tea towels as they will not allow you to rub rice flour into them, causing the dough to stick, resulting in an awful mess.
Although it appears to be rough, I have simply cut up some old cotton pillowcases that my children are no longer using. It has been a pleasure to use them for this purpose and they wash really well as well.
Can You Make A DIY Banneton?
You may be able to make a banneton yourself. By following the instructions above, you can make a DIY banneton from a heavy linen tea towel and some elastic bands.
Can I Proof Sourdough In A Plastic Container?
Yes, you may. It is recommended that you line it with a thin cotton cloth. Plastic containers can be used in the same manner as plastic bowls. Keep in mind that the shape of the container will affect the shape of the dough.
What Flour Should I Use To Prevent Sticking?
When it comes to preventing dough from sticking to your banneton or alternative banneton, rice flour is usually the best flour to use.
The gluten-free nature of rice flour prevents it from adhering to the gluten in the dough. You can also use corn meal or semolina if you do not have rice flour.
Can I Use Oil Instead Of Cloth?
When using a bowl or a smooth surfaced banneton substitute, many people use oil rather than cloth. It should be noted, however, that oil does not allow moisture to be drained from the dough.
Additionally, it may cause problems when you attempt to flip the dough out of the container you have chosen for shaping.
Can I Use Parchment Paper To Line My Proofing Basket Or Bowl?
If possible, avoid it. During the proofing process, parchment paper doesn’t let the dough breathe and will actually soak up the water from the dough.
You’ll usually tear the parchment when you try to lift it out. In addition, the parchment gets baked into the bread when you bake the sourdough and is hard to peel off. If you want to proof your dough, don’t use parchment.
Banneton Alternative Disadvantages
It’s not the best choice to use an alternative to bannetons since they’re made specifically for proofing dough.
Here’s what you may find if you don’t use a banneton:
It might be hard for your dough to breathe
If you use a bowl, wok, or loaf pan, moisture may not be wicked away from the dough.
Depending on your choice, you might not be able to shape the dough how you want. It’s easy to shape dough into batards, boules, crowns, etc., when you use a specific banneton shape.
You might not get the right size banneton alternative. You’ll lose the oven spring if your dough’s too big. It might overflow the container if it’s too small.
You probably already have something you can use as a proofing basket alternative.
Having bannetons in your sourdough baker’s kitchen is great, but they’re not essential. There are other things you can use in your kitchen.