Baking supply stores sell nice bannetons, lined with Belgian canvas or made with wicker spirals, for $20 - $30. You can make a quick and dirty banneton by lining a basket or small mixing bowl with a tea towel, but for $2.00 you can make your own dedicated, cloth-lined banneton and start baking better loaves today.
Step 1: Material
The dollar store or a yard sale are the best places to score a cheap basket if you don't have any lying around already. For the lining, I used some fabric labeled "flour sack linen" which seemed appropriate, but you can used anything that is a bit porous and won't shed little fibers into your bread.
- An oval or round basket, 8- or 9-inches in diameter, at least 4-inches deep
- A sheet of canvas, flour sack fabric, or other linen that won't shed fibers, big enough to cover the interior of the basket with a few inches to spare.
- Kitchen twine
- A tapestry needle, which should have an eye large enough to thread the twine
Step 2: Sew the Base
- Thread the twine onto the tapestry needle and make the first stitch, starting from the outside. I was able to secure the end with a simple knot, but you can just leave some excess twine for trying at the end.
- Continue stitching at one- or two-inch intervals, taking care to ensure the fabric is smooth and somewhat taught on the bottom.
- Your last stitch should go from inside to outside. Take a moment to tighten the twine from beginning to end, and then try the twine off.
Step 3: Sew the Sides
- As you stitch around and rounded edges, make small pleats every stitch or so. This will keep the sides smooth, not wrinkled and bunched up.
- Tie the twine off after tightening.
Step 4: Secure the Rim
- Roll the fabric down and away from you until it creates a little padded rim. Secure with a loop of twine around both the fabric rim and the basket rim. Continue around the rest of the basket.
Step 5: Get Baked!
- Shape your loaf and place in the basket. The top of you loaf should be in the bottom of the banneton.
- Cover the loaf with a kitchen towel and proof per your recipe. This is especially convenient when doing extended proofing in the fridge, as this is way less bulky than a baking sheet.
- The porous linen will start to dry out the exterior of the loaf, which will aide in crust formation.
- When you are ready to bake, sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal or flour, and flip the loaf onto it. The top on the banneton becomes the bottom of the actual loaf.
- Bake as usual, let it cool, and enjoy some fine bread. Happy baking!