More than five years ago, Michael Lövgren started a sourdough bakery in Bensbyn. Since that time the bakery has expanded and now features a boutique shop and café. And soon an exciting new project awaits – to be featured in two books about bread.
“It’s incredibly awesome,” says Mikael Lövgren.
They are very busy at the small bakery in Bensbyn. In front of a huge breadboard stands Mikael Lövgren punching out circles for small flat breads, tartes flambées, which should only be pre-baked before being delivered to the restaurants. On the shelves are sourdough baguettes and three grain loaves that were freshly baked in the early morning hours.
But soon, more than restaurants and bread customers will learn about the bakery in Bensbyn. A few weeks ago the Dutch couple, journalist and cookbook author Mirjam Letsch and photographer Hans de Clerck visited the stone oven bakery and bread boutique. They had heard of the bakery through friends of friends, and they were on a trip to gather information for their next two books about small scale craft bakeries in different locations around the world.
“They were really excited when they visited us. Both were interested in the process of making the bread, how it is baked, the raw ingredients, the sourdough, how it is made, and how we use our sourdough,” says Mikael, who mentions that the bakery is the only one in Sweden that the Dutch couple visits during their two-year trip around the world.
“It is truly amazing that they found us here.”
One of the books will focus on images, the other on recipes, and the plan is for the books to be published in two to three years," says Mikael.
“They were very thrilled to be here. I could feel right away how much they enjoyed the visit,” says Mikael.
He became interested in sourdough several years ago. It was at “the beginning of the major trend”. He had tasted sourdough bread, loved the taste and the raw ingredients, and began baking at home.
“It was a great hobby. I could not fit all the sourdough in my refrigerator at home,” he says with a laugh.
At that time, he worked as a physical therapist, a job that he loved. But the downside was that the job was in Piteå, and he had to commute to work. So he made the decision to reduce working hours and start baking in parallel.
After taking some baking classes, and after talking with others who had started their own bakeries further south, he bought the bakery in Bensbyn.
And from the beginning the business was good.
“There were a lot of people who came the first summer. There was a twenty-minute wait in the breadline and fifteen-eighteen cars out in the parking lot. It was a lot of fun and it felt like I had gotten it right,” says Mikael.
A few years later he ran into Anna-Maj Öhlund, who was also a physiotherapist. She had long dreamed of starting her own business, and thought that Mikael should "cast off" and run the bakery full time.
Together they opened the bakery on the corner of Kungsgatan and Storgatan in Luleå, which also has a café.
“Bread, soup and salad belong together,” says Anna-Maj, who is responsible for building up the concept around the bread shop and café.
They only bake and sell “authentic sourdough bread”.
“Genuine sourdough bread is bread without yeast, and in addition it should have a long rising time, over twelve hours. Otherwise you get a bread that is tasteless,” says Mikael.