Brunkans Långa (The Wet Version)

I suppose this bread is a study in how it is possible to lose sight of the preponderance of evidence and allow yourself to be led in a different direction by becoming fixated on a single detail.

Although this was a perfectly fine bread, it was surely not what Görel had in mind when she asked the Bread Baking Babes to undertake Brunkans Långa, the “long loaf” from the Brunkebergs Bageri (bakery) in Stockholm.

The evidence I had before me was this:

  • The recipe called for 600 grams of water, which would put the hydration of this dough at about 60%. Even considering the adjustments to hydration that the variability of flours often necessitates, a wet, slack dough is not what springs to mind when you think “60% hydration.”
  • Görel, and some of the other Babes whose breads I was lucky enough to be able to see before I made mine, baked lovely cylindrical loaves with a pleasingly compact crumb. Again, you do not look at these loaves and think “wet dough.”
  • According to Google translate, “brunkans” translates to “brown ham.” Even if that’s not the correct translation in this case (and ok, so it’s not), this should have been a sign. In my experience, most hams have a roundish cross-section. We normally do not go out of our way to make our dough very wet if we want a roundish cross-section, now, do we?
  • According to the directions, two long loaves, each more than one kilogram, should fit comfortably in the oven. This means that each loaf would really have to keep its personal space to a minimum, and not think that it’s entitled to go wandering promiscuously all over the baking stone, or even off the baking stone, like this:

    In other words, loose doughs need not apply.

So that was the evidence, and to have considered it thoughtfully would have been to conclude that we really do not want to go adding a lot of extra water to this dough. Right?

And yet I, very consciously and deliberately, added an extra (not 20, not 50, not even 100, but) 165 grams of additional water to this dough. Which made this a 73%-hydration dough. That’s getting into ciabatta territory.

And that is because, instead of considering the preponderance of evidence, I single-mindedly focused on one word — four tiny little letters — in the recipe, and that word was “pour.” As in, “pour out the dough.” I formulated my own fixed idea of what “pour” should mean, and I stuck to it stubbornly, despite the preponderance of evidence. So as I mixed, I ran a constant dialog with myself: “Can I pour this dough? No? Add more water then.”

Consequently, I wound up in a very different place with this bread from where most of the other Babes (Görel, Lien, Natashya, SaraElizabeth, ElleAstrid, Karen, LynnTannaIlva) wound up. I think I’m lucky that it was not a bad place (in fact, it was quite a nice place; the bread tasted great), and even if it had been a bad place, it was just bread, after all.

But sometimes it’s not just bread, so maybe it’s good to remember that a more holistic view, which takes the preponderance of evidence into account, might be, in general, a good thing to shoot for.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    The bread looks grand, even the bit that slid off the stone. Even without the additional water, my bread took over the whole half sheet pan, which is most of the oven. After that I made half the recipe which worked better. Hope that you will let us know the results if you decide to try this with 60% hydration one day…not that you need to, but I bet it would also be excellent bread if you are making it.

  2. says

    Hmmm… I have this book which someone on TFL from Sweden was nice enough to purchase for me… I baked the Brunkans Ljusa, which seems to be the mostly white flour version of the Brunkans Langa, and was excited to bake it… I probably should have followed the recipe a little more closely, especially the part about the sourdough starters… Anyways, I ended up with something that was really pretty on the outside, closed crumb, and way way salty… Saltier than your average full salt potato chip…

  3. says

    I think it looks terrific, Susan. Let’s just say you have a way with bread and it had it’s way with you this time! I would have been proud to serve it at my table.

  4. says

    Well, this is wonderful, Susan. And ever so comforting to know that actually reading the recipe might be a mistake. Not that it turned out to be a mistake for you. But you know what I mean. (Oh dear. I think I might be digging myself in a hole.)

    The interesting thing is that the bread looks quite similar from the outside. It’s only the crumb that gives it away as being slightly different from the bread I made using the same recipe.

    That’s the really wonderful thing about bread, isn’t it? Even when we fool around with the quantities, it still insists on being bread.

  5. says

    haha Susan I loved your post! and your bread looks so delicious!
    See mine insisted on crackling all over every single time I baked it… neither of the other Babes had happen this to their bread.

    That’s why I find baking bread myself is so interesting: You never know with what you will end up ;o)

  6. says

    Brunkan’s is short for the name of the bakery. Nothing to do with ham.

    I’ll definitely sample it if I can find said bakery though, maybe send you a photo to compare!

    ;)

  7. says

    Susan, THANK YOU for sharing your experiments! Am amazed what water, flour, salt and yeast can coerce our creative juices into stretching toward…beautiful inside texture! and outside color!

  8. says

    Oh, I am so sorry Susan!!! It’s TOTALLY my fault! I couldn’t find the proper English term for “moving the risen dough from the container to the table”. My dictionary failed me. But I think the crumb looks very nice, I like holes!

    @jokergirl, do you live in Stockholm? There are two shops in town: http://www.brunkebergsbageri.se/

  9. says

    I love it! And I think I know why my dough was pouring, or rather making a loud smacking sound with a nice plop when it stretched to release from the container…. our flour is less strong so yes my dough was slack and sort of flubbered from the container.
    Love yr version!

  10. says

    Wow you invented a Swedish ciabatta!! You’re funny to be lead by just one word, while all the other points didn’t match the pouring. Looks good though, gotta love ciabatta, Swedish or Italian.

  11. says

    Well you make the most fabulous ciabatta anyway! I actually ended up with a wetter dough than planned when I tried Natashya’s post for Maple Oatmeal bread and ended up with english muffin bread. Gotta say though, I’ll make it that way from now on if possible. Nothing better than good english muffin bread toast.

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