It’s 9.00am when I pass through the open doors of the old barn, overlooking a valley carving its way through the mountainous terrain of Uvdal, Norway. The sun peaks through the grey clouds which have left morning dew on the yellow flowers popping around the well-worn farm. There is a cool breeze, which is welcome in the Uvdalsleiven kitchen, where the takke (griddle) reigns as it exerts its heat in every corner of the room. It’s temperamental. The colder it is inside, the higher its temperature must be. The hotter it is, the lower its temperature. And so it is with the takke, the surroundings effecting it in a way that only an experienced baker can instinctively master. Like a barista, the baker must constantly be in control and make adjusts to produce a quality product. And here at Uvdalsleiven, you can immediately see the symbiotic relationship which creates so much harmony in the kitchen.
The kitchen is buzzing as the ladies look up and welcome me in. Uvdalsleiven, aptly translated to Uvdal’s dough sheets, is a traditional Norwegian bakery run by the lovely Hanne Tufto. And like so many of the local producers around, her story is a generational one. The players are the women in her family. A grandmother, a mother, an aunt, a daughter. Hanne took over the bakery from her mother and aunt 15 years ago and continues to make the recipes of her grandmother with the help of Hanne Karine and Edyta. This is my first time visiting and we have planned it so that I will be coming again the following week to learn how they make another one of their beloved products. This is the first part of their story, a mere glimpse into their kitchen, their routines, their virtuosity. Today, it’s all about their traditional rømmebrød, or sour cream wafers.
The recipe for rømmebrød was given to her grandmother by her grandmother’s neighbor many years ago, and has stayed in Hanne’s family ever since. It’s a dessert bread which is more linked to the area of Hallingdal in Norway, but is something which Hanne grew up with, something which is part of her story in Uvdal. Usually rømmebrød is shaped in a small round and left flat, but Hanne has swayed from tradition to cut them into squares and fold them over, adding a nice texture and a beautiful aesthetic.
Rømmebrød er farlig – rømmebrød is dangerous – Det er så godt at du ikke klarer å la være å spise en til. Og en til. Og en til … – Mat Fra Numedal Bok
I first tried Uvdalsleiven’s rømmebrød at one of the local cafes and I fell for its sweet and crispy goodness. Its delicate nature only adds to the exquisiteness of it. Hanne’s rømmebrød requires three people in the kitchen. One to prepare the dough and pack, one to roll out the dough and cut into squares and one to cook over the hot takke. Once the dough is placed on the takke, it gets a generous coating of sugar which caramelizes against the heat, creating a pattern of dark and golden brown against a creamy white. The technique is never one to be taken lightly though, as the delicate dough, so thin you could almost see through it, often breaks during cooking. And the finished product, folded over like a pillowy wafer, must be handled with great care. It’s elegant, graceful, and fragile. The journey from dough to plate is one of vigilance, but once there, it can be broken and its fragility becomes a part of the joy in eating it. Crumbs? Most certainly. Loose sugar across the plate? Yes. Smiles all around. Guaranteed. Enjoy it with a hot cup of coffee or tea, with ice cream or for a more polished affair, with a glass of sparkling wine. Perfect on top of desserts, filled with cream, served with fruit or eaten alone with bare hands.
Rømmebrød from Udval is just one of the traditional Norwegian products from Uvdalsleiven Tradisjonsbakst, and Hanne is happy to share with you the recipe so you can enjoy it at home. Her products are available throughout Numedal or directly from the bakery. If the red barn door is open, by all means, stop on in and stock up.
The story of Uvdalsleiven continues and I’ll be sharing Hanne’s renowned Kling fra Uvdal in the upcoming post, so be sure to follow along.
(Makes over 100, so feel free to half the recipe)
- 1/2 kg (2 1/4 cups) butter (setersmør)
- 1/4 kg (3/4 cup) dark syrup
- 450g (∼2 cups) full-fat sour cream
- 1.35 – 1.5 kg (3- 3.3 lbs) flour
Place all of the ingredients in a food mixer. Mix well until the dough is worked through, a couple of minutes. Roll out the dough very thinly. The thicker the dough, the more bubbles will appear during the cooking process and it can become slightly more soft, rather than crispy, when finished. The thinner the dough, the better the texture will be. Cut the dough into large squares.
Heat a takke or griddle (similar temperature to that of flatbrød, or hot enough to turn the dough to a golden brown quickly). Butter or oil the takke and place a couple of the sheets of dough on it. Sprinkle sugar generously over the sheets of dough. Cook for about 30 seconds per side, just until golden brown. Turn over. Add more sugar after a few seconds. When finished, take off the takke and fold in half and set aside. Take off any excess sugar from the takke, add more butter or oil, and continue to cook the rest of the dough sheets in this manner.
Serve immediately or store in a plastic container for up to 3 months.
*The takke or griddle will accumulate a bit of carmelized sugar, so ensure you clean it well afterwards! And have a window open nearby.
Hanne’s recipe can also be found in the Mat Fra Numedal cookbook.