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SOMETHING TO PROOF

WHY AND HOW TO USE A PROOFING BASKET

The longer you continue on your food journey, the more you discover new ways to take your culinary skills up a notch. It might be something simple, like chopping an onion or green pepper in a different way, but nothing in the culinary world is as vast, infinite and complex – and oh so satisfying – as baking. You can never know everything, which is probably the most exciting part about it, and there are so many small tweaks you can apply to your method that make a huge difference. Using a proofing basket for baking bread, for instance, is one of those deceptively simple tricks that will take your bread from simple home baked goodness to professional and refined.

Apart from the support they lend to your dough while proofing, they also leave a beautifully rustic, spiral-like print in the crust. And since banneton baskets are normally made of wicker or wood fibre, they also absorb extra moisture from the outer layer, making the dough easier to score (cutting the top so the bread can open easily while baking), leaving you with a crispier crust while retaining that all-important moisture in the crumb.

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR PROOFING BASKET

Look after your basket and it will last for years. Just follow these simple rules.

  • Using a spray bottle, mist-spray your basket with clean water.
  • While moist, add a cup of flour and distribute evenly, making sure the flour lines the entire inside of the basket.
  • Shake off any excess flour and leave to dry.
  • For your first bake (and every bake thereafter), coat your basket generously in the flour you’ll be using for that bake (remembering to distribute evenly every time).
  • When your dough is ready to bake, tip it out onto a baking tray (never bake in the basket!). It should fall out of the basket by itself.
  • When finished, make sure your basket is dry before storing it.
  • Once a month, give the basket a brush to get rid of any excess flour stuck in the grooves.
  • Should you see mould start to form on your basket, preheat your oven to 120 °C and “bake” the basket for 30 – 40 minutes. This should kill the mould. Avoid using detergents.
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