A brotform, or banneton (when lined), is a willow proofing basket that provides a beautiful and effective way to keep hand-shaped artisan loaves from spreading sideways as they proof. Dusted with rye flour, which best prevents sticking, the brotform keeps loaves rising upward, maintaining their shape and integrity and creating a circular pattern of flour that contrasts nicely with the scoring.
To prepare a brotform for use, pour 2-3 tablespoons of rye flour into the brotform and dust the inside until it’s thoroughly coated. Then pour off any loose flour. The first few times you do this it may be challenging to coat the brotform well, but over time this gets easier. Some people suggest oiling the brotform before flouring it for the first time, but I have had better results using flour alone.
To remove bread dough from a brotform, use your hands to loosen it around the edges and gently tip it into the baking pot. Then shake out the brotform, discarding any excess flour.
A brotform requires no regular washing and, in fact, water can work against good results; I suspect it washes away the microorganisms that help fermentation along. I do, however, gently scrape off any hardened flour using a spoon or chopstick. If the brotform develops mold, you can wash it in warm water and air dry it before beginning anew. Finally, store it in a drawer or cupboard for the next time you make bread.
For Sourdough Wheat & Rye Bread or any other round loaves I’ll write about in this space, an 8″ or 9″ brotform works best.
And because last week I said I would share a post on the many ways to embellish one slice of sourdough bread, here it is: Toppings For a Slice of Sourdough Bread.
Next Up: A More Memorable Loaf
Copyright 2014, Ellen Arian, Ellen’s Food & Soul