A banneton is a wooden basket used to shape bread loaves prior to baking. By mixing doughs wetter than usual, bakers can develop improved texture and retain moisture in the crumb. However, these wet doughs need a bit of structural support during proofing to prevent the final loaf from spreading out too thin.
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