OUR KNÄCKEBRÖD BAKERY
OUR KNÄCKEBRÖD STORY
Our bread is a continuation of a tasty tradition. By hand-baking our Skedvi Bröd in wood-fired ovens, we are picking up exactly where our predecessors left off. The town of Stora Skedvi in Dalarna has been baking perhaps the most legendary knäckebröd in all of Sweden for decades. We often hear tales of childhood memories from way back when from knäckebröd lovers who remember the bakery and the enriched bread.
Our predecessors continued operating their bakery in the time-honoured craftsman’s fashion up until 2013. Then, it happened. The bakery in town closed down. Rarely has the saying “one man’s bread is another man’s poison” been so apt.
THE KILLER BLOW
It was of course a very sad day here when the killer blow finally came. The news that production of this much-loved craft knäckebröd was to be brought to an end washed over the town like a tidal wave. The craft was to disappear and 31 talented bakers left without jobs. There would be no more vivacious types baking with wood-fired ovens; instead it would be electric ovens somewhere else.
But knäckebröd is more than just bread! The decision stirred people’s emotions, not just here but across the country. A Facebook group was set up in the capital to save the hand-baked knäckebröd and in the blink of an eye it had thousands of members. Stora Skedvi is also a town with a great deal of dedication and entrepreneurship. This wasn’t going to be the end of the story.
THE DREAM OF OPENING A NEW BAKERY
Strengthened by the support and encouragement, the two entrepreneurs Anders Åkerberg and Malin Floridan regained their strength and their hope that the factory could be brought back to life again. They would do everything to keep the craft alive - and to help it live on in Stora Skedvi. After a lot of um-ing and ah-ing, they managed to buy the factory. But what they took over was an empty factory. A shell with the beaten up remains of ovens ripped out and chucked into containers. They would have to start all over again from the very beginning.
After sleepless nights and a lot of head-scratching, the idea was born to start a crowdfunder. Done and done! And what support it received! 733 private individuals made donations big and small to the project. The hope that it would be possible to set up new ovens in the factory in Stora Skedvi, where knäckebröd had been baked in wood-fired ovens since the 50s, was reignited.
The most engaged people were by and large knäckebröd lovers from around the country but they weren’t the only ones! Several companies wanted to be involved in rebuilding the bakery too. After all, it needed to be done properly! Several companies helped to make this possible by contributing building materials, manhours, knowledge and passion.
The rebuild was a reality. The same company that had been commissioned to tear out the old ovens was now commissioned to reinstall them. Ask and you shall receive! Our beautiful bakery was beginning to take shape.
THE DREAM BECOMES A REALITY
The crowd-funding project took care of the finances, but many more solutions were needed and the newly founded Skevdi Bröd company was looking for several part-owners. Some of those who reached out wanted to modernise, whilst others had grand ideas that didn’t match up at all with the company’s philosophy. Many of those who wanted to get involved and provide finance - but also to direct and manage - were given a polite but firm ‘No thank you’.
But then, one beautiful sunny day, the phone rang. It was Benny. Benny Andersson, to be precise, one of the biggest music stars in the world and former member of four-piece ABBA. He’d heard about what had happened to the knäckebröd that he had eaten ever since he was a child. Now, he wanted to do his bit to preserve the craft. There was light at the end of the tunnel for Skedvi Bröd.
With fire in our bellies and financial support from a few more dedicated financiers, we were able to rehire many of the old bakers from before. The ones with invaluable experience and the delicate touch needed to make hand-baked knäckebröd! Now that they were finally back on board, the ovens and cutting machine could be taken for a test drive. All the individual pieces were working. But we hadn’t actually produced any real bread yet.
But, as is often the case, people work even better under pressure! A date was set for the bakery’s grand opening. This date was shouted from the rooftops along with the promise that “people will be getting their long-awaited bread by Christmas”. Everyone at the factory worked flat out and a few weeks later the first batch of dough was baked into finished loaves that could be packaged up. Everyone involved was a part of making the impossible possible! And mostly with a smile on their face to boot!
Skedvi Bröd’s grand opening was held on 4 December 2014. The bakery welcomed Benny Andersson who baked the first symbolic loaf - and provided a soundtrack, too, of course. Several musicians from the surrounding area agreed to participate and the factory attracted some 3,000 visitors over its opening weekend. Bread was being baked and packed at lightning speed and over the next few days and weeks knäckebröd lovers were queueing round the block to get their hands on it.
Against all the odds, a new knäckebröd had been welcomed into the world and several of the old bakers rehired!
FIRING UP THE OVENS AGAIN....
Now, we here at Stora Skedvi have got back to baking knäckebröd again. But if we’re being honest - as we should be - that very first bread we rushed out for the grand opening was far from our best. It was certainly a lot harder than what we bake today - though at least it was ready for the grand opening! We’ve learnt a lot along the way - and now we, and plenty of others too, think it’s the tastiest knäckebröd in the whole world! The story has now come full circle and the craft has been preserved!
You can read more about the history in our book The History of Skedvi Bröd (in Swedish: Historien om Skedvi Bröd), written by one of the founders of Skedvi Bröd, Malin Floridan. The book is available for purchase in our food hall and at Delitea.