Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Proofing baskets are key for slow-fermenting breads like sourdough. Without them, your loaf would be flat and wide (think: focaccia). After the dough initially rises and is divided and shaped, a basket cradles the dough while it continues to proof, keeping it supported. Proofing baskets also absorb a small amount of moisture, so when the dough is turned out before baking, the surface has formed a drier skin that’s easier to score. This helps the loaf stay round while it expands in the oven, leading to neat, even loaves. 

We put 10 proofing baskets made from different materials to the test to see which ones absorbed moisture the best, were easy to clean, and shaped round, tall loaves of bread. Now, there are many different shapes for proofing baskets, but since many home bakers are likely to use a 5.5-quart Dutch oven, we stuck to medium-sized round baskets meant for boules.

The Winners, at a Glance

The Bulka’s wide, flat bottom let the dough fully relax while it proofed, leading to an airy, open crumb. Since it’s made out of compressed wood pulp, it was also great at absorbing moisture, which left a drier skin on the dough’s surface that was easy to score. It was also easy to clean: just let it dry out in a warm area, and any residual flour can be dusted off with a pastry brush. 

Almost identical to our top pick, this proofing basket from Flourside also performed admirably. Loaves came out neat, round, and tall, and its wood pulp construction was easy to brush clean after it dried. 

While it was very similar to the other rattan proofing baskets we tested, the true standout feature of this basket was its stretchy liner; it helped create more tension along the surface of the proofing dough, resulting in the roundest loaves we baked. We also liked how easy it was to stretch the liner over the basket. 

The best part about this Breadtopia proofing basket is its geometry—it had a narrow base and slightly steeper sides, which led to taller, rounder loaves. 

For extra height, look to woven wicker proofing baskets—Mafter’s flat bottom, narrow base, and straight sides led to the tallest boules we baked. Its wide weave body and coarse linen liner were also quick to dry, making it easy to keep clean. It was the easiest proofing basket to flip dough out of since the smaller base was comfortable to hold in the palm of your hand. 

This model from TMB Baking had a slightly wider base than the Mafter proofing basket, but it’s hard to beat the price (just $10). It produced tall, round loaves with every bake, and its permanent liner was easy to maintain. 

The Tests

Serious Eats / Jesse RaubCountry Sourdough Test: We made a loaf of country sourdough bread using this recipe at 75% hydration to see how well each proofing basket shaped the dough and absorbed moisture with a standard bread formula. Sourdough Miche Test (Winners-Only): We made a sourdough miche loaf with 50% whole wheat and 85% hydration to see how well each proofing basket shaped and absorbed moisture with a very wet, sticky dough.Usability and Cleanup Tests: We tested how easy the liner was to stretch over the basket (if it had a liner), how well baskets fit on fridge shelves for overnight proofing, how easy they were to flip dough out of, and how well the dough released from the basket. We also looked for any wear and tear and cleaned every removable liner in the washing machine. 

What We Learned

Most Baskets Performed Great

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

There was only one proofing basket we tested we truly wouldn’t recommend (more on that later). In most cases, the differences in design and performance were so subtle we really had to split hairs when picking winners. In fact, the proofing baskets looked so similar we marked them to be able to tell them apart. For example, the main difference between the Bulka and Flourside baskets was that the Bulka was slightly heavier and absorbed a bit more moisture during proofing. The point: You can’t really go wrong with most of the baskets we tested, but small details gave some baskets slight advantages. 

Narrower Baskets Made Taller Loaves

Taller and narrower baskets made taller loaves.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

As bread proofs in a basket, the basket’s form dictates the shape of the dough. The tall and narrow Mafter proofing basket produced loaves that were four-and-a-half inches tall—over an inch bigger than most of the other proofing baskets. Its loaves were also almost an inch narrower than the competition, which made them easier to slice. Slightly wider baskets, like the Bread Bosses and St. Germain Bakery, led to wider loaves (more than eight inches in diameter). This didn’t have a major effect on the flavor or the structure of each bread, however, so the advantages were mostly for serving. Unless you have a long bread knife (like our favorite from Tojiro), these larger loaves were trickier to slice. 

Moisture Absorption Was Key 

The moisture absorption from wood pulp baskets helped proofing loaves retain structure.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Even with a wider base, the Bulka proofed tall loaves. Its thick wood pulp body was great at absorbing moisture—around 3 to 4% of its total weight—and even with its flat, wide base, its loaves were amongst the tallest. One disadvantage of narrower baskets is the rising dough can be more constrained. With extra room to fully relax in the Bulka basket, bread dough was able to proof slightly larger, with a more open crumb. With good moisture absorption, the dough was able to hold its shape well with a taut, dry surface during the overnight proofing in the fridge. On the flip side, the Breadtopia Round Hybrid Banneton made from wood pulp and plastic didn’t absorb moisture very well. Even with a thorough dusting, the dough stuck to the basket when turning it out, and because the moisture was trapped between the dough and basket, it encouraged excess fermentation during the proof. Bordering on over-proofed, bread from this basket was flat and wide and didn’t hold a very neat shape while baking. 

Wide Baskets Monopolized Fridge Space

It was easier to fit multiple tall and narrow baskets on the same fridge shelf.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The biggest disadvantage of the two wood pulp baskets was their width. With an extended lip that jutted out (which made them easier to grab), they took up lots of fridge shelf space during the overnight proof. If you’re only baking the occasional loaf, it wouldn’t be a huge deal, but if you’re looking to make multiple loaves at once (or have a smaller fridge) you might want to grab narrower baskets, like the wicker ones. Without dough, however, the wood pulp baskets stacked well and were easy to store. 

Wood Pulp Baskets Were Easiest To Clean

Coiled rattan baskets required the most upkeep between the linen liner and the rattan itself.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The solid wood pulp baskets didn’t require a liner, and were easiest to clean. All you had to do was let them dry fully, and any excess flour could be dusted off with a brush. The wicker baskets with permanently attached linen liners were next—even though you couldn’t remove the liner, the open wicker weave helped the linen dry out quickly, and you could then brush them out easily. The coiled rattan baskets with linen liners required the most upkeep—if the liner wan’t removed to dry separate from the basket, trapped moisture could lead to mildew and mold growth in the rattan itself. These baskets required you to wash the liners on occasion, and while all the liners held up well in the washing machine, it was still an extra step that wood pulp and wicker baskets didn’t require. 

The Criteria: What to Look for in a Proofing Basket

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

A great proofing basket should have good moisture absorption to help loaves form a taut surface that’s easy to score. It should also have a shape that cradles proofing loaves into round and tall breads. Lastly, it should be easy to clean. 

The Best Proofing Baskets

What we liked: Whether it was a standard country sourdough or a wet, sticky whole wheat miche, the Bulka proofing basket did an excellent job of shaping bread dough into tall, round, and big loaves. Its wide and flat base let the dough relax fully, leading to a more open and airy crumb. This basket also consistently absorbed the most moisture out of any basket we tested. While it was only a few grams more per loaf, this helped the dough form a taut, dry surface that was easy to score, and it also meant that both types of dough were easily released when turned over. Cleaning was also a snap—just let the basket dry out while your bread is baking, and any excess flour can easily be brushed out. It’s a truly great bread-proofing basket that’s easy to use for beginners and pros, and it comes in a variety of sizes and shapes. 

What we didn’t like: Our biggest gripe is its width—while the extra wide lip gave us something to grab onto, it also took up extra shelf space in the fridge while the bread was proofing. This could be an issue if you have a smaller fridge, or if you plan on baking multiple loaves from a large batch of dough. 

Price at time of publish: $35.

Key Specs

Weight: 13.6 ouncesMaterials: Wood pulpProduct dimensions: 10.5 x 2.75 inchesBase width: 6 inchesCapacity: 1000 gramsCare instructions: Let dry in a warm environment; brush off excess flourOther versions available: Small round, small oval, medium oval, large ovalSerious Eats / Jesse Raub

What we liked: Nearly identical to our winner, this basket was also great at shaping dough into big, round, and tall loaves. It has the same size and shape advantages for dough to relax, and nicely dried out the surface for easy scoring and a good oven spring.  

What we didn’t like: While it had the same shelf space issues as the Bulka, it was around two ounces lighter. This meant it absorbed slightly less moisture from the dough, and the resulting loaves weren’t quite as tall and round as the our overall winner.

Price at time of publish: $32.

Key Specs

Weight: 11.1 ouncesMaterials: Wood pulp Product dimensions: 10.5 x 2.75 inchesBase width: 6 inchesCapacity: 1000 gramsCare instructions: Let dry in a warm environment; brush off excess flourOther versions available: Small oval, medium round, large ovalSerious Eats / Jesse Raub

What we liked: With all of the coiled rattan baskets performing well in our testing, the one thing that set the King Arthur model apart was its stretchy, elasticized liner. Because you could stretch it further over the sides of the basket, it was able to create more tension and cradle your proofing dough without resting on the inside of the basket itself. This shaped the most perfectly round dough out of any models we tested, and the resulting loves were extremely even. And with a liner that has this much give, you can wash it and dry it without worrying about it shrinking and not fitting the basket.

What we didn’t like: We wish the base on this basket was a little narrower and that the walls were steeper so that the resulting loaves were taller. The stretchy liner also didn’t absorb as much moisture, so while the surface was perfectly round, it wasn’t as easy to score. 

Price at time of publish: $35. 

Key Specs

Weight: 7.8 ouncesMaterials: Rattan, linenProduct dimensions: 9 x 4 inchesBase width: 5 inchesDough capacity: 680 to 1130 gramsCare instructions: Knock excess flour out, rinse with hot water if needed; liner is washing machine-safeOther versions available: Medium ovalSerious Eats / Jesse Raub

What we liked: Of the coiled rattan proofing baskets, the Breadtopia had the narrowest base and steepest walls. This shaped slightly taller loaves than most of the other coiled rattan models, and we liked how high its build quality was even with a lower price point. Breadtopia also offers multiple sizes and shapes of proofing baskets, in case you want something other than a round boule. 

What we didn’t like: You have to buy the liner separately, and while it fit snugly around the lip, it hung loose in some spots along the walls and base of the proofing basket. This meant that the dough had more slack while it was proofing, and the resulting loaves just weren’t as neat as the King Arthur model. 

Price at time of publish: $20.

Key Specs

Weight: 6.8 ouncesMaterials: Rattan, linenProduct dimensions: 9 x 4.25 inchesBase width: 4.25 inchesDough capacity: 680 to 1130 gramsCare instructions: Knock excess flour out, rinse with hot water if needed; liner is washing machine-safeOther versions available: Small round, small oval, medium oval, large oblongSerious Eats / Jesse Raub

What we liked: If you want taller loaves that are easier to slice, the Mafter proofing basket has a narrow base and straight sides that encourage proofing dough to expand upwards instead of outwards. It gave us the tallest loaves, and its coarse linen liner released even the sticky whole wheat miche immediately. The loose wicker weave also helps the liner dry out quickly, making clean up as easy as brushing out excess flour. 

What we didn’t like: It’s expensive, and with all the other baskets performing so well, it’s hard to justify the cost. We also wish the liner was removable, on the off chance that it gets stained by something other than flour. Still, if you’re looking for the tallest loaf possible, this basket delivers. 

Price at time of publish: $47.

Key Specs

Weight: 6 ouncesMaterials: Wicker woven rattan, linenProduct dimensions: 9.5 x 4.75 inchesBase width: 5 inchesCapacity: 450 to 680 gramsCare instructions: Knock excess flour outOther versions available: Medium round, large round, extra-large roundSerious Eats / Jesse Raub

What we liked: With similar performance to the Mafter, and almost a fifth of the cost, this basket from TMB Baking is a steal. It proofs tall, round loaves, and with its narrow base, you can fit multiple baskets on the same shelf in the fridge.

What we didn’t like: Its base is a half-inch wider than the Mafter, and as a result, the loaves weren’t quite as tall. We also wish the liner was removable—while it’s easy to clean out excess with a brush, it would be hard to try and wash out something like butter or oil if it was spilled. 

Price at time of publish: $10. 

Key Specs

Weight: 4.8 ouncesMaterials: Wicker, linenProduct dimensions: 9.5 x 4.75 inchesBase width: 5.5 inchesCapacity: 450 to 680 gramsCare instructions: Knock excess flour outOther versions available: Medium round, large round, small oblong, large oblongSerious Eats / Jesse Raub

The Competition

Bread Bosses Round Banneton: The loaves from this proofing basket weren’t quite as tall or round as the competition, but overall it was perfectly fine. St. Germain Bakery Round Banneton: This basket had a tight-fitting liner that shaped nice-looking loaves, they just weren’t as tall as our winners. Frieling 8″-Inch Round Proofing Basket: This basket is more expensive and the loaves it produced weren’t as neat and round as the competition. Breadtopia Round Hybrid Banneton: This is the only proofing basket we don’t recommend: it’s made from a hybrid of wood pulp and plastic, so when the dough is proofing it doesn’t absorb excess moisture. The resulting dough was wet and sticky and didn’t release very neatly when turned over. The excess moisture also encouraged more fermentation even while in the fridge, and the resulting dough was over-proofed. 


Are bread proofing baskets worth it?

Proofing baskets are essential for long-fermented breads, like sourdough, as it helps them keep the shape before baking. They’re also relatively inexpensive, and if you’re a regular sourdough baker, it’s worth having a few proofing baskets to improve the overall shape and size your breads.

How do you proof bread in a basket?

Using a proofing basket is simple: once you shape your dough, dust its surface and the inside of your basket with flour to prevent sticking. Place the dough top side down, so that the basket’s liner can keep the surface taut, and let it proof on the counter until it’s fully risen. You can also proof the bread in the fridge overnight, depending on the recipe you’re using. 

How long do you leave dough in a bread proofing basking?

Most dough in a proofing basket will be fully risen after around one to two hours on the counter at room temperature, or you can proof bread in the fridge overnight. Depending on the temperature in the fridge, cold-proofing dough takes around 10 to 14 hours, though it’s difficult to overproof dough in a cold environment. It might take some trial and error to find the best cold-proofing duration that works for your bread recipes. 

Do you wash proofing baskets?

Proofing baskets can be made from a wide variety of material, but compressed wood pulp baskets, rattan baskets, and wicker baskets shouldn’t be washed in water. They’re all made from absorbent material and washing can cause them to grow mold or mildew if they’re not dried properly. Instead, brush the baskets clean of excess flour when they’re dry, and if you need to, you can rinse them warm water.

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