Kunsten at bage godt brød

Bagerier på Nørrebro

Brødbanken har med hjælp fra en gruppe studerende fra Københavns Universitet besøgt 4 bagerier på Nørrebro – Brødkunsten på Jagtvej, Emmerys på Nørrebrogade, Kvicklys bageri ved Nørrebros Runddel og Ali´s Bageri  på Heimdalsgade.

Ivan Korolev, der besøgte Brødkunsten i september 2010, har skrevet følgende indlæg om sit syn på “kunsten at bage brød” til Brødbanken.  

Brødkunsten Jagtvej, Nørrebro

BroedkunstenWhat is the art of making good bread? This is inevitably a question that any ambitious baker must ask him- or herself if they are planning to stay afloat in the bread-making world. But it is also a question that we, as consumers of bread, ask ourselves every time we chose to buy a certain type of bread, though this may be done subconsciously.

Of course we must take in to account that the meaning of “good” in this context is very ambiguous. We all have our different experiences with bread that condition our preferences in taste, and are constrained by various material limitations. As a cultural analyst I have a tendency to dwell on exploring these differences, and often find myself spiralling away from the “actual” bread in the direction of broader cultural theory. In this brief post I will take a step away from my usual approach and talk about ‘good bread’ as I perceive it, and as I experienced it at Brødkunsten bakery in Nørrebro.

I cannot say if my understanding of what good bread is has changed since my first visit to Brødkunsten in September 2010, but at the moment, the type of bread that is produced in this bakery, for me, definitely falls into the category of good bread. I am sure that the individuals behind Brødkunsten have dwelled on the question of ‘what is the art of making good bread?’ for a good while (as the name ‘Brødkunsten’ obviously implies’), and that many of their customers come there to find the answer.

At the bakery there is a very wide selection of baked goods, from pastries and cakes to sour dough and spelt loafs, the only thing in common is that all of it is made in the same space. Even so, one can sense a fair amount of planning behind the choice of these specific varieties. You can find both trusted classics and exciting new types of bread in the assortment; there is definitely something for everyone.

However, what makes the bread at Brødkunsten good is not only the type of bread they bake, but how they bake it. As already mentioned, the fact that all of the produce is made in the same building where it is sold is important. It creates a sense of transparency and honesty; as a customer you are able to peek into the baking area and see the ovens and the baker’s tools, furthermore, the smell of freshly baked bread that engulfs you upon entry signifying the freshness of it all. The transparency of the bread-making process is echoed in the little signs that are placed in front of the different varieties of loafs that indicate all the ingredients that are put into making the bread, and the length of the yeasting period. I think that no matter what type of bread you like, the fact that the ingredients that go into it, and the process by which it is made, are for you to see are both part of good bread.

When we asked the baker’s at Brødkunsten about where they get their inspiration for their baking recipes and techniques, they replied that they were trying to “go back to the basics” of bread making. It is true that the types of flour they chose to use have a historical past, and the absence of additives signifies a distancing from the mass-produced bread commonly found in supermarkets today, but we noticed that the techniques and machinery they employed were very modern. This combination of inspiration from the past “traditional” bread is another way in which Brødkunsten manages to make good bread. The “pure” taste and health benefits of somewhat forgotten types of flour are combined with new efficient techniques that guarantee a perfect finish every time.

Københavns bagerlaugFinally, as seen by a small sign hanging outside the main entrance, Brødkunsten is a member of the Copenhagen Bakers Guild. A membership in this organisation highlights Brødkunsten’s will to actively participate in the ever-changing bread culture. It is a network where bakers can exchange ideas and support each other in the pursuit of the art of making good bread. The guild is used as a platform for both innovation in baking and preservation of traditional baking techniques and values, and all of this is seen in the bread at Brødkunsten.

I have spoken of three elements that can be observed at the Brødkunsten bakery and that I consider to constitute to good bread. The carefully selected varieties of bread sold there are too many to account for individually, and it is not uncommon for certain types to go in and out of fashion, so all that I can say about them is that they are delicious! On the other hand, the philosophy and approach to baking is what remains a constant at Brødkunsten, and is what I believe to be a major part of the art of making good bread.


By Ivan Korolev,

with help from Lærke Riis, Lonnie Jensen, Maria Holten-Andersen, Margarita Todorova.

                                                                                  Copenhagen University MACA 2010

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