Friday, 11 July 2014

Banneton and Cloche

There are two further improvements that can be made to the better sourdough method and that is to use a banneton and cloche. 

A banneton is a proving basket (used instead of a bread tin to form the loaf). They come in different sizes and shapes (although most are round) so you should be able to find one for the size of loaf you want to bake. 

Simply shape the dough into a ball (or sausage if you are using a long banneton), put it in the floured banneton, sprinkle some flour on top, cover with a tea towel and leave it to rise in a warm place.

Once the dough has risen, put the baking sheet or dish upside down on top of the banneton, invert the two and carefully lift off the banneton, leaving the dough on the baking sheet or dish.

A cloche is a cover that will improve the rise of the bread by trapping the steam given off and produce a nicer crust, without the need for water in the oven. The La Cloche baking dome is currently the best on the market but it costs around £50 in the UK ($50 in the USA).  But there is a much cheaper alternative. I use a bread baking dish with a three litre Pyrex mixing bowl at a total cost around £15 (and you can see what's happening inside it, see below).

To use the cloche simply place it over the dough (after slashing the top) so that it sits on the baking sheet or dish, put it in a cold oven and bake for 25 minutes after the oven comes up to temperature. 

Then carefully remove the cloche (take care, it will be very hot) and bake for a further 25 minutes (or until the loaf is a nice golden colour). Then turn the oven off and leave the loaf in the cooling oven, with the door slightly open for a further 5 minutes. 

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