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Norwegians’ favourite food:
BREAD

Norwegian bread .
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Oda Christensen
Norwegian bread .
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Oda Christensen

All the time. Always.
We just LOVE bread!

Heart-shaped bread .
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Studio Dreyer Hensley
Heart-shaped bread .
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Studio Dreyer Hensley

Norwegians are at the top of the list when it comes to who eats the most bread in the world. On average, each of us consumes 38,5 kilos of bread every year!

It’s our go-to breakfast …

Norwegian breakfast .
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Nadin Martinuzzi
Norwegian breakfast .
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Nadin Martinuzzi

… the perfect matpakke (the lunch we bring to school, work, hikes etc.) …

Norwegian lunch .
Photo: BAMA
Norwegian lunch .
Photo: BAMA

… and the yin to our dinner’s yang.

No, we don’t get bored of it. Why?
We use the right pålegg!

Pumpkin soup .
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Nadin Martinuzzi
Pumpkin soup .
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Nadin Martinuzzi

Pålegg? It’s the word we use for everything we add to our slice of bread.

It can be ham, jam, delicious Norwegian cheese, liver paté, or weird Norwegian food traditions like kaviar or brunost. Sometimes we add fish as well, like mackerel in tomato sauce.

For us Norwegians, our beloved skive (slice of bread) is practically a lifestyle.

Slices of bread .
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Nadin Martinuzzi
Slices of bread .
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Nadin Martinuzzi

“Bread is part of the national identity in Norway. To come here and see all the different types of grain and grovbrød (wholemeal bread) – that was all new to me”, says Neil Allsopp.

He’s the brains behind Sour To The People in Hønefoss in Eastern Norway, one of the many artisan bakeries that have popped up around Norway. The former gunsmith moved across the pond from England to Norway 10 years ago and started baking as a hobby.

Now, he’s a full-time sourdough expert that’s excited to get up every morning and bake yummy bread. According to himself, he’s actually obsessed with it.

The process of creating sourdough is so transformative. You start with flour, water and salt, then a few days later you have something healthy to eat. Even though it takes more time to make than regular bread, it’s worth the wait! Sourdough bread stay fresh longer, and they are the best option for your digestion”, he explains.

Handle with care

Sourdough is not a new thing, but it’s been brought back to life in recent years. It’s a global trend, and lots of people bake it at home.

“It’s brilliant. People have had more time, especially during 2020. Social media have also played a massive role in this boost because people want to try what they see there. And bread is really big on Instagram”, Allsopp explains.

Sourdough bread made in Norway
Sourdough bread.
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Oda Christensen

Learning how to bake sourdough is a test of both your patience and your skills as a caregiver. No, we’re not joking – you actually have to take care of your sourdough starter.

“The starter is the stumbling block for most people, having the patience to let it grow. You need to feed it every day, and you can’t neglect it”, the baker explains.

Don’t aim for success on the first try, though. Allsopp says it’s better to be prepared to fail for the first few bakes. Once you get the hang of it, however, the sky is the limit. Maybe you’ll even try to decorate your bread, so they’ll look as delicious as they taste?

Gives you energy

Allsopp sees the consumption of bread as really positive, especially when the baked goods are filled with healthy nutrients. You can add everything from seeds to nuts and make a wholegrain bread full of flavour. You’ll not get bored of it – even bakers like Allsopp can’t get enough!

“There are still so many combinations that I haven’t even thought of trying yet. And you can use many different kinds of pålegg (topping) and open up all the flavours in the bread”, he says.

For Allsopp, the best flavours come from the best ingredients. He only uses local and organic products and works closely with talented farmers.

They turn this …

A farmer from Skien .
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Krister Sørbø
A farmer from Skien .
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Krister Sørbø

… into this!

Norwegian farmers are world-class, and the products’ journey from the farms to local stores and bakeries is short.

Flour .
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Krister Sørbø
Flour .
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Krister Sørbø

“For Norwegians, the grain has always been very important. Back in the day, it was thought of as Gudslånet, which means ‘something we’ve borrowed from God’”, says Bodil Nordjore.

She is a Norwegian cookbook author who has won several awards for her work with Norwegian food culture. What she receives the most questions about, however, is bread. Therefore, she dedicated an entire book to the subject – that is 255 pages about brød, including 120 recipes!

Ancient traditions

In the Viking age, people ground corn into flour by hand and made a flatbread, which they fried on a hot flagstone.

“They called it brauðiskr – or bread plate – and added topping like fish and meat.”

It’s like the original Norwegian pizza – and we’ve kept parts of this tradition alive, making lefse (sweet flatbread) and flatbrød (unleavened flatbread eaten with fish, soups etc.). Baking traditions have modernised a lot since then (thank you technology!) and bread now comes in all shapes and sizes.

“Here, the most common bread types are made from oats, barley and wheat, but we are also inspired by international baking traditions, like the French country bread and the Italian focaccia”, says Nordjore.

She points out that even though we like to try out new trends, we often go back to what we know and love: The healthy and nutritious “everyday bread” filled with grain.

Slices of bread with various spreads and toppings served on a platter
Slices of bread.
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Nadin Martinuzzi

In addition to our beloved grovbrød (wholegrain bread), we also eat a lot of kneippbrød, landbrød (country bread) and rye bread.

We also know how to treat ourselves, and lots of people bake varieties of loff (white bread) for the weekend or public holidays. The common ingredients are wheat flour, milk, butter and yeast, but there are several different varieties. Some add sugar and egg for an extra sweet flavour, while others top the bread with poppy seeds.

Then there is the Christmas special: julebrød – a real treat, filled with raisins. It’s sweet, almost like a bolle, and taste delicious with brown cheese. The name means Christmas bread, but it’s too good to eat only once a year, so a lot of people bake it whenever they feel like it.

A variety of white bread in Norway
White bread.
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Sara Johannessen

Nordjore emphasises that whatever variety you prefer, “bread is very easy to make at home.” This is one of the reasons why Norwegians love it.

“In addition, wholegrain bread fills us up. Two skiver, or slices of bread, will keep your tummy happy until your next meal”, she concludes.

The proof that we eat a lot of bread

Here, you can easily buy bread at bakeries, grocery stores (many have 10-15 varieties!) and some gas stations. In total, Norwegians buy 206,115 tons (!) of bread from these vendors each year, according to Sissel Flesland Markedsinformasjoner AS, a company which gathers statistics for the baking industry.

This means that Norwegians on an average consume approximately 38,5 kilos of bread each. What’s even more crazy, is that this number does not even include buns and baguettes, or the bread we bake at home! Yupp … we were not joking when we said we eat a lot of bread.

And we don’t like to let our brød go to waste. The Norwegian Information Office for Bread and Grain inspires us to make everything from toast and croutons to churros (a sweet Spanish snack) using dry bread that we wouldn’t eat otherwise!

It’s healthy, it’s good for your wallet – and you can use every last crumb. What’s not to love about bread? Time to find that apron and discover the great world of brød!

Churros made with dry bread
Dry bread churro.
Photo: brodogkorn.no / Sara Johannessen

Bake a healthy bread at home

Feeling inspired to leave bread out of the grocery list and make your own? Try the Norwegian Information Office for Bread and Grain’s recipe for brown bread with barley and oats! It’s healthy and yummy – and the recipe is created by the talented Norwegian baker Arild Mellemsæther.

This recipe makes: 2 loaves
Difficulty level: medium
Total time: 3-4 hours, including prep, rising, and time in the oven.

Ingredients

Grains to soak
150g wholemeal, brown
25g wheat bran
60g barley flour
60g oats
3 ½ dl water

The main dough
450g wheat flour
300g wholemeal flour
20g salt
25g fresh yeast
3 ½ dl skimmed milk

A little milk for glazing, and oats for topping.

Instructions

1. Soak the grains: Mix wholemeal, wheat bran, barley flour, oats and water in a large mixing bowl. Let the grains soak for approximately 30 minutes at room temperature.

2. Complete the dough: Add the rest of the ingredients to the mixing bowl. Knead the dough using a stand mixer (food mixer). First on low speed for 3 minutes, then 3 more minutes on a higher speed.

3. Let the dough rest for about 30 minutes, before you knead the dough using your hands. Let it rest for another 20 minutes.

4. Divide dough in half and create two loaves. Glaze the loaves with milk and roll them in oats before you place them in two 2 litre loaf pans. Cover the pans and let the bread rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 210 °C. Bake the bread in the lower section of the oven until golden brown, which takes approximately 40 minutes.

6. Take the bread out of the loaf pan right away and let them cool on a cooling rack/oven grid.

Get your bread right with our dictionary

Grovbrød – wholemeal bread/brown bread.

Loff – white bread.

Surdeigsbrød – sourdough bread.

Kneippbrød – wholemeal bread named after the 19th century Bavarian priest and hydrotherapist Sebastian Kneipp.

Smørbrød – open sandwich

Matpakke – the lunch we bring to school, work, hikes and so on.

Brødpudding – bread pudding

Knekkebrød – crispbread (originally Swedish, but very popular in all Scandinavian countries.)


Travel green with NOR-WAY Bussekspress and taste your way through the country’s weird and wonderful food!

Get your bread right with our dictionary

Grovbrød – wholemeal bread/brown bread.

Loff – white bread.

Surdeigsbrød – sourdough bread.

Kneippbrød – wholemeal bread named after the 19th century Bavarian priest and hydrotherapist Sebastian Kneipp.

Smørbrød – open sandwich

Matpakke – the lunch we bring to school, work, hikes and so on.

Brødpudding – bread pudding

Knekkebrød – crispbread (originally Swedish, but very popular in all Scandinavian countries.)

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