Proofing baskets (bannetons)

While proofing baskets are not essential, they are certainly a lovely addition to any serious bread baker’s supply stash. Up your baking ante by proofing your loaves in a linen-lined basket. The linen liner holds a coating of flour nicely, and the dough will not stick to the linen, making removal a cinch. Baskets hold the dough in shape before baking, and the linen keeps the crust smooth.

Unlined baskets – as tricky as they can be to use – put a pretty impression on the dough. Aesthetic only. Of course, aesthetics are powerful.