A proofing basket is essential to both seasoned and amateur bakers.
However, it can be substituted with a bowl, plastic container, wicker basket, linen cloth, bowl terracotta pots, and colander.
This basket ups your baking game; it is a vital process in bread baking as you leave the dough to rise and rest before baking it.
The proofing step allows leavening and fermenting, which results in an airy bread.
- Linen Cloth
A linen cloth comes in handy when looking for a proofing basket alternative. Traditionally, it used to be heavy and made of coarse material and mostly used for a baguette or boule bread.
Before the cloth is used as a proofing basket, it should be floured to ensure that it doesn’t stick to the dough. Rub about a cup of flour into the linen cloth and use it to wrap the dough.
The best cloth should not have a pronounced weaving pattern as it will leave imprints on your dough.
Also, do not use cloths with small fibers such as cotton because they tend to the dough more easily.
The finest bowls to use instead of a proofing basket are made of plastic, ceramic, metal, or wood.
Before putting your dough in the bowl, oil, or dust it with flour. You can also use a cloth to prevent the flour from sipping on the bowl’s sides.
This happens because the inner side of the bowl is smooth and cannot hold flour on the upper parts.
Besides, a cloth reduces excess moisture and leaves your dough in perfect shape and release quickly when it’s time to remove it.
- Wicker Basket
A wicker basket is a great substitute for a proofing basket. You must use a cloth for this basket to work perfectly for you.
Also make sure the basket is safe to use with food. Otherwise, it is an excellent way to achieve that amazing texture and shape for your bread.
However, avoid loosely woven wicker baskets; they can make your dough proof into the big spaces and even stick the basket.
A colander works just like a wicker basket. You have to use a linen cloth or a tea towel. Whichever you choose to use, dust it with flour before placing your dough in it and covering it with an overhanging cloth.
- Plastic containers
When choosing the plastic container to use, consider its shape because it determines how your end product turns out.
It should also be spacious enough to allow the double to rise up to its double size. Besides oil the container before putting the dough; it eases the removal process.
- Terracotta pot
A terracotta pot can be used to proof bread. But, it should not be glazed and shouldn’t be used to bake the bread.
Some clay pots can release toxins when exposed to high temperatures and end poisoning your bread.
Wash the pot with soapy water and leave to dry out for several hours.
If you are looking for a spacious pot to proof 900 grams of bread, the pot should have a diameter of about 26 cm, but even a bigger one will work perfectly.
Even with a terracotta pot, you still have to use a heavy cloth dusted with flour to line up the pot before placing the dough in it.
In case you do not have a cloth, oil the pot, but expect it to absorb some of the oil. A pot has pores and therefore, only a thick layer can give the desired results.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I make sure my dough doesn’t stick onto my proofing basket?
This is the biggest challenge that bakers have to deal with and especially beginners.
However, the solution is easy; put a layer of flour all around the proofing basket or some oil, and your dough will not stick.
You can also use a cloth to wrap your dough before you put it in the basket.
If you bake regularly, your basket develops a season and you, therefore, won’t need to add flour or oil for smooth removal.
What is the best size of a proofing basket?
The ideal size of a proofing basket depends on the size of the bread you want to bake. For a 500-gram bread, you should use a basket with about a 10-inch diameter.
This will allow sufficient space for the dough to rise without spilling, which can distort its shape.
What makes my dough sticky after putting it in a proof basket?
Your dough should be sticky neither too dry.
This will affect how you shape, and it’s not fun working with such dough.
If it’s too sticky, try working with it on a surface dusted with flour. It will help put it into the desired shape.