Lilian is the Swedish champion of sourdough baking
When Lilian Sagerfors opened her sourdough bakery in the spring of 2018, she considered it a hobby project. She was already working as a chef, and planned to make some bread and rolls occasionally, maybe once a month or so. She’d sell them to the people in Ekenäs, where she lives. That’s not quite how things turned out, though.
– Haha, no. That didn’t really go according to plan – much better. My idea was out the window on the first day, as the line of customers went on for what seemed like a mile, says Lilian, laughing.
Today, she is entirely committed to her bakery, which is located in a small, red house in the heart of the charming coastal village of Ekenäs, a few miles south of Kalmar. She is passionate about sustainability, and carefully selects her ingredients to avoid any additives.
Tell us a bit more about why this is important.
– I want to do my part when it comes to preserving nature, since a lot of the things we eat affect the earth and the environment a great deal. By using organic and locally produced ingredients, I gain insight into the work of the farmers, and what they do to improve the soil. Among other things, I use only organic grain, and often heritage varieties. Those roots do a lot of good for the soil when they grow, and since they are allowed to grow slowly, they also contain a great deal more vitamins and minerals.
– All the other ingredients are equally important, of course, like milk from happy cows, or free-range eggs, and unrefined salt without additives. It’s good for the earth, and for us.
You have said you want to make people dare to eat bread. Tell me a little about that.
– Bread culture has, admittedly, developed enormously, but I think a lot of people still think of bread as a luxury item. I think that’s in part due to the fact that it’s considered unhealthy, and maybe expensive, too.
– A lot of the supermarket bread is made using accelerated fermentation to enable mass production, so it contains hardly any nutrients at all. If you eat bread that’s had a chance to rise slowly, the gluten has been broken down, making it easier to digest. A lot of good bacteria has had time to grow meanwhile, and all the vitamins contained in the flour have been allowed to do their jobs and are still there.
– A slice of bread, in my opinion, is a much better complement to any meal than, say, pasta or rice. If the bread is made from good grain, it’s filling, and it contains a lot of things that are good for you.
I want to do my part when it comes to preserving nature, since a lot of the things we eat affect the earth and the environment a great deal.
What is your speciality?
– I’m focusing particularly on sourdough bread, which takes a long time to rise and is made from good grain. That doesn’t mean it’s a heavy, hard-to-eat bread with a ton of rye in it, which many people might think. I make airy sourdough bread from various kinds of wheat flour, but the wheat has been cultivated in a good way, and gently milled.
You have won a gold medal in the Swedish championships. What does that mean to you?
– I mean, wow! Actually I haven’t had time to celebrate yet, so I haven’t quite processed it. When my customers say “I want that bread that got you a medal” that’s when it hits me. But of course, it means a great deal to me, and I feel very honoured.
– It seems like it was only yesterday I baked my first bread, when working as a chef. An award like this makes me feel I really know what I’m doing, and that people appreciate my work.
What about plans for the future?
– I do like the size of my bakery, and I want to keep it small and intimate, so I’d like to wait a while before I develop it any further. I have gargantuan ideas of where I’d like to be in ten years’ time, but that’s just going to have to wait. At least that’s how I feel today – we’ll see where I am tomorrow, ha ha!
Lilian’s top picnic spots
- Ekenäs is my favourite, of course! There are many nice places there, where you get a glimpse of both the sea and the forest. Whether you want to have breakfast, lunch or dinner, you’ll find a good place for it.
- The forests around Idehult and Långaström are just lovely. I often drive there in the spring, when the wood anemones are in bloom. Just bring a blanket, a basket and a thermos, and you’ll definitely find a place where you’ll want to stay a while.
- Örarevet in Torsås Municipality is a place I often go to cook, with my best friend. It’s the best place in the world for a day with the spirit stove.
- Nunnedalen on Öland is nice. This one time, we put a blanket in the field next to the path, and just lingered for hours. Then we noticed we were in a strawberry field. We might have picked one. Or several…
- Pretty much any place is good for a picnic. It’s the company, or the mood, or the coffee in your thermos that makes the place. Anywhere you can sit on a blanket and just look up at the sky or at the flowers is a good spot.
- Ekenäs hantverksbageri is open all year round, but hours vary. Lilian is also selling her bread through Reko-ring Kalmar, a network for locally produced food.
- The bakery’s products are certified by Eldrimner, a national resource centre for
artisan food producers. This proves the products have been made by hand, using traditional methods and carefully selected ingredients.
- In 2020, Ekenäs hantverksbageri won a gold medal in the national championships, Eldrimner Mathantverk, in the wheat sourdough category.
- In 2021, Ekenäs hantverksbageri won two gold medals – in the wheat sourdough and the rye sourdough categories.