Brotforms

Proofing bread in a basket gives support to an expanding loaf and helps it maintain its shape. When the basket is a brotform, it also imprints the crust with a beautiful spiral pattern that lends the finished loaf a rustic European flair.

A brotform (German for “bread mold” – see why we stick with the German name?) is a coiled cane basket that holds the shaped dough during its final proof. My brotforms (or brotformen, if you want to keep strictly to the German) are round and oval, but they also come in rectangular, square, triangular, and a variety of other shapes. A 7.5- or 8-inch diameter round brotform is a good size for up to a 1.5-pound loaf.

A liberal dusting of flour not only prevents the dough from sticking to the unlined brotform; it’s also what leaves the pretty pattern on the loaf. Some people swear by rice flour to minimize sticking, but I’ve never had a problem with wheat flour. It’s better to use too much than too little; excess flour can be brushed away lightly with a pastry brush before baking. (Don’t bake the bread in the brotform!) To unmold the proofed loaf, turn the brotform over and whack one edge briskly against the peel at a 30-degree angle.

I don’t wash my brotforms; rather, I clean the flour out with a stiff brush, then air-dry them completely before storing them. However, they can, if necessary, be washed in plain warm water and dried in a low oven. Keeping them bone-dry is essential so they don’t get moldy.

Brotforms are available at many online retailers, but they can be pricey, so shop around. Some of the better prices I’ve found are from TMB Baking and Brotform.com, which offer baskets for under $20. A wider but more expensive selection is available at  Fantes. And if you’re really ambitious, you could try rolling your own.

Post a comment » 35 Comments

  1. that’s lovely. always wondered what they were called. and always longed for one. i’m sure its definitely not available in india… gonna have to look around though.
    lovely post and gorgeous bread, of course!

  2. Oh, I was just reading about these somewhere this weekend. But I didn’t know they came in so many shapes.

  3. They are on the wishlist! I am still hoping to find a Canadian distributer. (shipping costs from the States are unbelievable)
    I just love the shape and texture that they lend a loaf.

  4. OMG that is beautiful Susan!! I’ve got some bread baskets like this on my Christmas wish list.

  5. ;) Once, in the innocence of youth, I did bake in one. Bread was fine, it’s very obvious to this day(some 20 years or more later) which one I baked in BUT it still works as a mold. Never again in the oven ;0))))

  6. Thank you. I was wondering about how to get the lines on homemade bread and where to get the baskets I see people proof their bread in. Very helpful post!

  7. Susan,
    Thanks for the info, I bought mine (round) one from Sur La Table years back, and I really want to buy another one. Maybe different shape. The one from Sur La Table is more expensive, so I am going to order from one of those places that you’ve suggested.
    Cheers, Elra.

  8. I have 3 brotformen. I always use a towel, because it’s quite humid here, and I don’t want mold. Unfortunately recently I found some bugs on them, I just washed them and let’em dry in the oven as you proposed.

  9. I always knew these baskets were expensive, but when I see what you’ve made with them I feel the price is fully justified! But something tells me just owning one of these lovely brotforms wouldn’t make me the baker you are.

  10. Those bread molds are lovely, I have one ceramic mold but doesn’t put that lovely efects. Next time I’ll travel to Germany i must found one of those molds :) )

  11. seeing as I am in Germany for work right now, I am thinking I should check out some kitchen stores to see if I can pick one up! The freshness and complexity of german breads never ceases to delight me. By chance have you ever tried making brötchen? or mehrkornbrötchen? I’d love to find a good recipe for these.

  12. Lovely looking breads!!

  13. Gorgeous bread Susan!

  14. I haven’t yet invested in some brotforms, but I will soon. The pattern on the bread is so pretty. Thanks for the info.
    Jane

  15. I really like your long ones! I have a round one but haven’t had a lot of luck with it. More than half the time the dough collapses when I knock it out.

  16. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and commented!

    Jen, yes, I hope you have time to look. I’m curious to see what kind of price you can get.

    Maggie, you might want to try rice flour for dusting. Use plenty!

  17. I finally got a couple and they’ve worked perfectly. What I’m wondering is, can you refrigerate them? I would love to chill the loaves overnight for some extra flavor, but am afraid that the dough will get damp and stick to the baskets.

  18. MVB, yes, I chill dough in my brotforms all the time. It actually makes the dough a bit easier to release, because it is firmer.

  19. [...] white, because the whole wheat is much easier to get out. afterward. susan at wild yeast blog has a must-read tutorial on brotforms that i consulted more than [...]

  20. these forms give a great shape and I love the striping the flour leaves on the bread. I was surprised (shocked) to read on the site of brotform.com that they tell you to spray the form with grease. I’ve always been told to not grease, not rinse. Just shake and brush of the excess flour. Wouldn’t grease get ransit? And wouldn’t it be harder to shake the flour off??? Maybe insights in this have changed, so I would love to know about that.

  21. I played around with brotforms in baking class, I love the crust they lend to whole wheat breads, and they seem pretty home-baking friendly, being easy to un-form, score and bake… And pretty!

  22. Oh my god those are beautiful beyond compare!

    When you whack it the bread does not deflate?

    I have been admiring them on an Amazon site for about 3 years now, but have been too chicken to buy something that I will be too afraid to use. I have deflation phobia… of the bread persuasion.

  23. I own four plastic brotforms in different sizes, but haven’t used them as much as I thought I would because the SD bread that I make is so slack that I can hardly make out the pattern when unmolded. However, I have wondered if using a cane brotform would imprint a stronger pattern.

    –Pamela

  24. Pamela,
    I don’t think slack dough and cane Brotformen go together very well.
    I have managed to do the ‘quick’ version of no-knead bread peoofed in a Brotform successfully twice, but it’s better with lower-hydration recipes.
    As you noticed, a slack dough will not keep the pattern once it’s unmolded.

  25. Hi Susan,

    Is there a certain technique to release dough from the brotform without deflating it? Also, do you let the risen loaf rest a bit before placing it in the oven once you transfer it from the brotform? Thanks

  26. Reginald, use plenty of flour! You may also use your fingers to very gently loosen the dough, if necessary. If the dough is not stuck to the brotform but still delflates when you remove it, it is probably overproofed. There is no need to let the loaf rest after removing it from the brotform — just slash and bake immediately.

  27. [...] the dough onto a floured working surface. Knead for 1-2 minutes and place in a 750 g banneton or in a flat round bowl. Let the dough rise for 2 hours or until doubled in size. Meanwhile preheat [...]

  28. I’m kind of new at bread baking and I’ve only been baking no-knead breads. After reading this blog, am I to assume that no-knead breads do not work well in a brotform? I did try an oatmeal bread and in a brotform and it didn’t work well… half of the dough stuck. One other question – Is “slack dough” the same as “no-knead”"?

  29. Sandy, many no-knead bread recipes I’ve seen call for baking the bread in a preheated cast-iron pot. To clarify, bread never gets baked in a brotform, it only rises in one. To avoid sticking, make sure the brotform is very well floured. Slack doughs — i.e., “wet” doughs, whether no-knead or not — are a bit more difficult and, as others have noted in their comments, often do not hold the ringed pattern of the brotform very well.

  30. Hi Susan, I hope I wasn’t too out of line with my comment about your brand new baking table. I guess I just got overly excited, (and I still am) when I saw that big honking table taking up all that space in your baking room.

    Anyways, getting back to Brötformen, when I was a young lad we rolled our own Brötformen(s), only we didn’t make bread with them, we SMOKED them.

    Uh…yeah.

  31. [...] the dough onto a floured working surface. Knead for 1-2 minutes and place in a 750 g banneton or in a flat round bowl. Let the dough rise for 2 hours or until doubled in size. Meanwhile preheat [...]

  32. [...] a helpful link to an article discussing in greater depth the use of Brotform proofing [...]

  33. Lovely article!!
    I purchased a broform from http://www.brotform.com (suggested here) long before I saw the article!! Brotform.com has awesome prices, premium products and cheap shipping…can’t get any better than that! Oh, and I found this great article from a link on the brotform.com site!!
    Lovely bread!!!
    Steph

  34. Hello every one,

    My name is Richard Lee from Cane Banneton factory in North Vietnam (Hanoi). we are special for producing Brotform made of rattan and wicker material. we commit to supply with most competitive price and best quality. For more further information, pls take a look our website as follow :

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    Richard Lee
    Skype ID : tungleuk

  35. [...] Yeast: brotforms; My Non [...]

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