I was experimenting this winter with some high hydration doughs that were really tricky to handle and definitely not candidates for the free form loaves I had been making. Solution? Letting them proof in some sort of a container. Traditional wicker bannetons however, are pretty expensive and I didn't want to wait for one to arrive in the mail (because I'm super impatient and all about instant gratification. right). Another solution? To make my own!
I took an old undershirt (it was really clean! promise!) and cut out the center so that I had a roughly rectangular strip of cloth. I laid the cloth flat and rubbed a bunch of AP flour into the surface then used it to line a plastic colander. I dusted my ball of dough with more AP flour and put it in the make shift banneton and folded the extra cloth over the top. I figured that while plastic wouldn't necessarily wick moisture away from the crust like wicker, the holes in the colander would approximate the air flow that one might get from a more traditional set up. It actually worked really well! Hopefully you can see in the pictures that the cloth didn't stick to the bread and that the loaf rose in a nice round boule type shape.
Funny thing- I was talking on gmail with Laura and told her about how I was going to make some bannetons (I had originally planned on buying some cheap wicker baskets and sewing cloth linings, but forewent this option since it involved spending money) and she told me not to! I was really confused and couldn't figure out why she wouldn't want me to make this incredibly awesome thing! But she kept insisting, so I told her I would wait. I should perhaps mention now that it was January and that we hadn't seen each other for most of December. Anyway, the conversation was pretty funny because I was being super dense and just didn't get the hint.
i was going to run to the store shortly
i need a food scale and some wicker baskets...
where do you think i could find those things?
laura: why wicker baskets?
s and s won't have those.
i would go to the nice food store or target
me: to make a banneton
me: it's like a floured basket for bread to rise in.
i know what it is....
me: oh, okay
me: you just said why wicker baskets...
me: i'm not going to buy a banneton, they're super expensive
me: i'm going to get a cheap wicker basket
laura: i know.
don't buy one yet.
but i want to use one today!
laura: you're killing this.
but i still need a scale
what time are you going out?
me: don't know, before 3
me: do you need anything from the store?
laura: no, thanks.
if you wanted to stop and get your xmas gift
on your way out.
laura: that might be wise.So, you might have guessed by now that Laura gave me a banneton for xmas, a real one made from wicker. It was a completely brilliant gift because I hadn't actually known what a banneton was until a few weeks prior and decided I really wanted one, but hadn't mentioned it to anyone. Laura apparently knows bread tools better than I do. I did end up making bread that day and used both the wicker banneton and the make shift cloth banneton, since the recipe made two loaves.
me: okay, sure thing.
me: okay, sure thing.
I like both methods but have definitely had trouble with dough sticking. I have tried using less flour, more flour, dryer area of the kitchen, more humid area of the kitchen, etc. I have since switched to dusting both the banneton and the cloth/colander contraption with a mixture of rice flour and AP flour on the advise of a thread on The Fresh Loaf. So far it has worked much much better than AP flour alone, but still not perfectly. I'm totally open to suggestions, if anyone has any.