0

ACROSS THE BORDER

Norway’s best bread stop

 

It has the reputation of being the best bakery in Norway, its unique concept attracting people from far and wide. In the summertime, in addition to selling bread and cakes, the bakery features a generous outdoor seating area, where hungry, quality-conscious visitors can enjoy a pizza, hamburger or delicious sandwich. For us, a meeting with Morten Schakenda at Bakeriet i Lom (the Bakery in Lom) is a not-to-be-missed stop on our culinary journey. 

Text: Erik Dankel and Marit Sigurdson Photo: Tina Strafrén

Morten Schakenda is the man who gave up the gourmet restaurants of the capital to start a bakery in Lom. Now the concept stands just as firmly as its riverside premises, and its reputation has spread far beyond its mountain home. 

 t is a boiling hot summer afternoon, and we are sitting at one of the outdoor tables with a cup of coffee and the genial baker. What is the secret to his success, we wonder. 

 “There’s no secret,” Morten says. “Being innovative can also mean going backwards.”

 “Uh huh?”

 “Use proper ingredients. What you bake is always a mixture, the difference comes from what you put in the mixture. There’s a huge difference in taste between margarine and butter, or from using less yeast and leaving it to prove for longer.”

 any people come here solely for the bread, and although the bakery has already been open for hours, there’s still a queue stretching through the door. It doesn’t slow down until September.

 “People know about us, and that’s great, but the bakery isn’t just a tourist gimmick,” Morten insists. “We have to be a plus factor for the people of Lom; everyone should be able to buy healthy bread and cakes here all year round. That’s why we don’t charge exorbitant prices. Perhaps we’re a little too inexpensive? At any rate, we’re generous.”

Tempting fast-food

But in the summertime, like now, it is not just bread, cinnamon whirls, currant buns and other cakes that tempt the visitor. Morten also runs a popular outdoor café during the high season. Beyond the terrace tumbles the fast-flowing river that cuts through Lom. And all around us guests are tucking into hamburgers, pizzas and sandwiches: quality fast-food indeed.

 he delicious smell of baking stretches all the way out to the car park, and when Morten returns to his work, we approach the counter to order our own food. Here, according to the lady pizza chef, you can have pizza with crème fraiche instead of tomato sauce, chopped ham, oregano, grated lemon zest, cheese and ‘lots of love’. We watch as the two pizza chefs prepare our pizzas. When they are done, we take them back to our table in the shade to enjoy with a cold beer. The white pizza is our favourite, but the hamburger is a big hit, too. 

 

“Use proper ingredients. What you bake is always a mixture, the difference comes from what you put in the mixture.”

Morten Schakenda, the Bakery in Lom

 

 

Before we leave Lom we pop into the bakery to buy some bread. Inside, the air is just as hot and the aromas emanating from the ovens even more intense. Books signed by Morten Schakenda stand on a shelf. One of his recipe books has managed to sell 30,000 copies. But, as he explains, writing a book was not something he’d planned to do.

 “I had a brochure and thought it was really nice. However, a friend of mine who works in the profession didn’t agree. He wanted to help me make a new one. It became, not a brochure, but an entire book.”

 isiting the bakery is supposed to be ‘a positive, and somewhat surprising, experience ’, writes Morten. Behind the counter you can see the bakers who are making dough and kneading buns. And even though the baskets are bulging with baked goods, there’s no guarantee you will get your favourite. Someone may have already beaten you to it.

 “Oh yes, we do sometimes sell out. I don’t mind that at all. It’s great to see that people like what we make.”

 n August 2011, Morten was diagnosed with cancer, which has led to a change in his ambitious lifestyle. But he is positive about the future. There’s been less night-work and more focus on training staff who can keep the company going when it’s at its most hectic.

 hile we are waiting in line to buy our bread we gaze with curiosity at the large painting of Lom at night that hangs above the counter. We have heard that a hidden projector transmits a film with the same scene onto the picture, making it spring to life. A shadowy shape traverses a pedestrian crossing on the painting. The boy in front of us in the queue stares at it wide-eyed and tugs at his father’s sleeve. But when dad looks up the scene is once again quite still. 

 eside us the logistics of the bakery business goes on uninterrupted. Trays of loaves are carried to and from the ovens in an endless stream. And tonight the bakers will be back at work mixing new batches of dough before the hungry customers return. For one thing is certain, whatever is baked here disappears in a trice. Everyone in Lom visits the bakery – and they usually come back for more.

www.bakerietilom.no