How A Proofing Basket Can Help You Make Better Bread

Baking bread seems like it should be a meditative, calming experience, but in reality a million different things can go wrong. You can measure imprecisely, use dead yeast, or proof it wrong, sending you rushing to cookbooks and websites for some explanation of which mistake made your loaf deflate into a pancake (via Baking Kneads). Even then, you might not be able to tell whether you didn't knead it enough, or let it rise too much. It's such a delicate operation with so many variables, it can drive even the most experienced home chef mad.

Thankfully, as one of the world's oldest food traditions, mankind has picked up a few bread baking tricks along the way. You have the poke test, where you can tell how well proofed the dough is by whether it springs back too much or too little (via Bon App├ętit). You have scoring, where a few slices into the top of your loaf help it rise in the oven and grow evenly (via King Arthur Baking). Then there are tools that help us, and one of the best ones you can grab in the quest for the perfect crusty boule is a proofing basket.

Proofing baskets give your bread better shape and structure

While you may think good bread is mostly in the kneading or proofing, proper shaping also plays a big part in turning out a picture-perfect and properly textured finished product (via The Perfect Loaf). This is where your proofing basket comes in. According to Kitchn, proofing baskets help keep your bread's structure intact by holding its shape in place during the final rise. Left on its own, bread dough has a tendency to sink and spread out instead of up, but the walls of the basket work to hold the sides in and give you a better, more even rise.

Proofing baskets are usually made from materials like rattan, and they can be lined with fabric, giving you either a pleasing rustic pattern from the basket bottom or a nice smooth finish (via The Spruce Eats). They also help you avoid another pitfall of bread baking, which is accidentally knocking out too much air by overhandling your dough after the final rise. Proofing baskets let you easily flip your bread over onto a baking stone or peel and slide it right into the oven without having to awkwardly move it around by hand. Those may seem like small details, but once you're rewarded with that professional-looking baguette you've always dreamed of, you'll never go back to baking without a proofing basket.