It’s been a while since that last post, things have been hectic but hopefully this will be the start of some more regular posts.
This post is all about baskets or banetons or brotforms or whatever you want to call them. For many types of bread, the dough is formed into the correct shape then placed in a basket to prove anywhere from 1 to 24 hours. Most commonly for us its about 18 hours cold proving in the fridge.
These specalist baskets have to have some specific properties ie shape and stickyness, obviously if you want a long oval loaf there is not point putting dough in a round basket. However, the main factor, I feel, is stickyness espeically with long cold proving, if a dough is sitting in a basket for a long time, when it comes time to take it out of the basket and get it in the oven a loaf that sticks to the basket is not a good thing.
Since we opened we’ve been using compressed wood fibre baskets, basically wet saw dust thats been squished into the shape and dried. These baskets are great, tough wearing, fairly cheap and they don’t stick, infact if you’re a home baker they are the ones I would recomend to you. However, we’ve had issues with keeping them clean, since we have several hundred which are used day in day out there has been an issue with mold on some of them. You see the baskets absobe some moisture from the dough, the longer the dough proves in them the more it absorbes, so drying them out properly is vital. We do this every day with regular scrubbing and baking at low temp to sterilise them but this takes time, which is one thing we don’t have a lot of at the moment.
Thus a month ago after a few experiments we made the change to plastic proving baskets with cotton basket liners. They are available in several different sizes and shapes and once a light dusting of flour is used (we use a 50/50 mix of rice and wheat flours for dusting baskets) they don’t have any sticking issues. They absobe less moisture and dry easily, but the main benefit is you can take the liners out and put them through the washing machine, its a whole lot quicker and easier. Add these benefits to the fact I can get 7 laoves to a tray in fridge now instead of 6, which mean they save us space aswell, we are very happy with them. There are afew downsides, is that they are more expensive, we get them through creeds direct, so if you need to buy 190 new baskets as we did, then it all adds up. but on the whole they are very good.