I've been cooking for a long time, but I just found out about this ancient proof-bowl a couple of months ago. Well, I am not much of a baker, so that's probably why I'd never heard of a banneton. A banneton is a wicker bread proofing bowl used for very wet dough. It contains the dough and prevents the dough from spreading while proofing, and creates a beautiful pattern on the finished product.
I just bought a set of two for my daughter in law for Christmas, since she loves to bake. I saw one at Cost Plus World Market last week, so I decided to buy one and use the banneton to bake a loaf of bread.
First, I made the very wet dough. Take 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of dry yeast (not instant) 2 teaspoons of salt and mix together in a mixing bowl. (I used my KitchenAid Mixer) You can do this by hand, but it's a pain. Add 1 2/3 cups of warm water to the flour mixture and mix well. I mixed for about 1 minute on medium speed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
In the meantime, use a spray bottle of water and lightly spray the banneton. Add 1/2 cup of flour and turn the banneton around and around, making sure you get flour into all the little nooks and crannies of the circles of wicker rattan. Dump out the extra flour.Set the banneton aside overnight to dry out.
The next day, spray the banneton again lightly with flour and add another 1/2 cup of flour. Repeat the turning process and make sure you get the flour into the rings again.Dump out the extra flour. Let it dry for about an hour before adding dough.
Transfer the wet, bubbly dough to a well-floured surface. (I dumped it onto my giant Boos Block cutting board) Fold the dough in half and dust with flour. Form the dough into a ball by stretching and tucking the edges of the dough underneath.
Dump the dough ball into the banneton, with the seam side up. Sprinkle with flour. Cover with plastic wrap.
Let this rise for about 2 hours. I put a tea towel over the top because it was a little chilly in the house.
After 1 1/2 hours, find your Dutch Oven with lid. I have a gorgeous 6 quart RED Lodge Enamel lined Dutch oven. I use it for EVERYTHING. I can't live without it. Well, that sounds a little desperate, but it is one of the most useful items in my kitchen!
Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees and add your dutch oven with the lid on.
When pre-heated, remove the dutch oven using heavy duty pot holders. It will be smoking hot! Remove the lid and set on a heat-proof surface.
Carefully remove the dough from the banneton. You might have to start one of the edges with your fingers. Dump it into the dutch oven with the seam side down and the beautiful circle pattern facing up.
Using a VERY sharp knife (or a one sided, brand new razor blade) slash the top of the dough. I slashed a cross shape into the dough.
Put the lid back on and put it in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes at 450. Remove the lid and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden brown. Remove from the oven.
Remove the loaf from the dutch oven and let it cool for at least 30 minutes on a rack.
Aren't the circles beautiful?
Cut with a bread knife. You can see the gorgeous loaf has big beautiful hole for lots of butter!
Add some homemade pea soup, and you have a delicious, filling meal.
The loaf also makes fantastic toast!
I can see a loaf a week in our future! Since this was SO easy, I will probably make bread more often!