Our proving baskets are made in Germany from compressed wood-pulp. They are designed to hold bread dough while it is proving, i.e. during its final rise before being baked. They aren’t meant to be put in a baking oven.
There are two main advantages of using a proving basket:
1. you can make your dough much wetter than you would if it was simply shaped up and placed on a baking tray. Doughs with a higher water content are almost always more open in texture, nicer to eat and slower to stale.
2. you can tip your fully-proved dough directly on to a pre-heated baking stone. Contact with a hot surface quickly ‘seals’ the bottom crust of the loaf and limits the amount of ‘spread’ of the loaf – things that don’t work so well when baking free-form loaves on ordinary baking trays.
We don’t sell proving baskets made from cane. Our German supplier says that the Thai government has imposed export restrictions on rattan cane in order to limit over-exploitation of this rainforest resource, and we haven’t found an alternative ethical supply.
The advantage of wood-pulp over cane baskets (apart from their lower price) is that they have good ‘insulation’ properties and so reduce condensation on the surface of the dough. This means that your loaf is less likely to stick to the basket.
We have a range of different sizes and shapes. The sizes – 500 g, 1 kg etc – refer to the weight of dough that the basket will accommodate, allowing for expansion during proof. Naturally, a basket of a given size will hold a greater weight of denser dough – the kind with more wholegrain flour or additions of seeds, grains, nuts, fruit etc – than of a plain light dough that may almost triple in volume during proof. A little practice is required to establish the optimum weight per basket of the recipes you are making.
Which shape to choose? It’s a matter of personal preference, of course. Factors which may be worth considering:
it is generally possible to fit more long-shaped loaves than round ones in a given oven space
some people find baton shaped loaves easier to cut and the resulting slices more ‘regular’.
With basic care, these baskets should last for a long time. We send an explanatory leaflet out with each order and full instructions are also available here.