Do you make your own bread? There’s nothing like the aroma of bread baking in the oven, is there? And yes, the taste of warm bread with a little butter melting into it is also right up there as one of life’s simple pleasures. Whether you are well versed in bread making or are just thinking about giving it a go, you will need to consider if you want to prepare your bread in a baking pan or in a basket.
For beginners, we recommend you start with a baking pan. Bread dough needs time to rise. It is easier to see how much your bread has risen in a bread pan than in a bread basket; once the dough reaches the top of the pan – it’s ready! Other benefits to using a baking pan include the ease of getting the dough out of a well-greased pan and the assurance that your bread will be contained in the baking pan and so the shape is guaranteed. And, the most obvious benefit to using a baking pan? Yes, you can bake the bread right inside the pan.
The bread rising basket is a more traditional way of preparing bread. Before metal pans came into being, bread was prepared in woven baskets. Bread was allowed to rise in the basket, then once the dough was set and had taken on the shape of the basket the dough was removed and baked. Today, the baskets work the same way.
Bread prepared in a bread rising basket has a crunchy crust; it is a more country-style bread – very homey-tasting and looking. So if you want that more home-made look and taste, then a bread rising basket is for you. Also, certain types of higher acid doughs, like sourdough, are better suited to bread baskets, as the acid in the dough can damage the metal of a baking pan.
If you are contemplating using a bread rising basket, there are two challenges that users sometimes face: knowing when the dough has risen sufficiently and getting the dough out of the basket.
To test if your dough has risen sufficiently in the basket, prod the dough gently with your finger. The dough is ready for the oven when the indentation comes out fully in about a minute; if it takes longer than a minute it isn’t ready. If it takes significantly less than a minute, then the dough has risen too much and is over proofed. If your dough is over proofed, take it out, knead it again with a bit more flour, shape it and put it back in the basket. Within about an hour it should be ready for the oven.
To prevent dough from sticking to your basket, you can treat your basket by washing it with a thin paste made of cornstarch and water. Brush the paste all over the inside of the basket and let it dry. Once every few months, clean out the basket and treat it again. You can also flour your basket before you put in the dough. Be careful not to over flour though, as too much flour can result in a tough, thick crust.
So are you ready to bake some bread? Mmm… we can already smell it baking!