It’s supposed to the most beautiful bakery in Norway, where people come a long way because of a bread concept that has found its way right into the hearts of Norwegians. For us, an appointment with Morten Schakenda at Bakeriet i Lom (“The Lom Bakery”) is of course a stop on our food journey.
Morten Schakenda is the man who gave up the gourmet restaurants in the capital for a baking company in Lom. Now the concept is anchored as well as the rock-bound building at the side of the waterfall, and the reputation of the quality of the bread has spread far beyond its own mountain area.
We sit down at the serving counter with a cup of coffee along with the likeable baker. What is the secret behind the success, we wonder.
“There is no secret,” Morten says. “Being innovative can also mean going backwards.”
“Use proper ingredients. Regardless of whether it’s a mixture that is cooked, the difference lies in what you have in that mixture. There’s a taste difference from using creamery butter or margarine, and from using less yeast and having a longer rise time.”
A plus factor
We sit at one of the tables outside the bakery. On the other side of the house, the river rumbles through Lom. Around us sit guests who eat cinnamon twists or raisin buns and drink coffee. Even though the bakery has already been open for many hours, there’s still a queue outside the door during the summer season. It doesn’t calm 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 inhabitants of Lom; everyone has to be able to shop for healthy baked goods here all year round. Therefore we don’t charge exorbitant prices. Perhaps we’re a little too inexpensive? In any event, we’re generous.”
Schakenda the author
On the shelves in the bakery are books signed Morten Schakenda. One of his recipe books has managed to sell 30,000 copies. But the book wasn’t planned.
“I had a brochure and thought it was really nice. A friend of mine who works with such things didn’t agree. He wanted to help me make a new one. It became not a brochure, but instead an entire book.”
Visiting the bakery is supposed to be “a positive experience with a little surprise”. Behind the counter you see right in to the bakers who are rolling buns, making bread and preparing dough, and even though the platter is bulging with baked goods, you’re not guaranteed the favourite. Perhaps someone has gotten up earlier than you and secured it for himself or herself.
“Oh yes, it happens that we are sold out. For me, that’s actually only positive, great to see that people like what we make.”
In August 2011, Morten became sick with cancer, something that has led to his having to change his ambitious lifestyle. But he looks at the future positively. There’s been less night-time work and more focus on training staff who can keep the company going when it’s at its most hectic.
As with the platter inside, it begins to get empty as well at the tables around us. It’s closing time soon. In a few hours, Morten is again making new doughs, before hungry guests are in place once again.
Because everyone who is in Lom visits the bakery – and they usually come back again.