Baked with kjærlighet
Ana’s Bakeri shares her love of traditional Norwegian baked goods in Colorado
CHRISTY OLSEN FIELD
Taste of Norway Editor
The Norwegian American
“Nothing says home like the smell of baking.” – Anonymous
Baking is a powerful touchstone to home and heritage for many of us. And for people like Ana Fanakrå, baking is a way to share the flavors you miss the most, especially when home is far away.
I had the honor of speaking with Ana Fanakrå, the founder and baker of Ana’s Norwegian Bakeri in Colorado. She combines her love of baking and family recipes to craft Norwegian baked goods, from apple cake to boller, grovbrød, and other traditional items. She launched her bakeri last year and sold at farmers markets in the Denver area, and she just opened her brick-and-mortar location in Centennial, Colo., last month.
Here are some highlights from our recent phone conversation.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Christy Olsen Field: First of all, can you tell me a bit about your background?
Ana Fanakrå: I was born and raised in Stavanger, Norway, and moved to the United States for college. That was 22 years ago this summer! I now live in Colorado.
Since I moved to the United States, I’ve always searched for a place where I could buy authentic Norwegian baked goods that I love from home, but I couldn’t find a place. So, I just made them myself.
I lost my job as a human resources generalist when COVID hit last year. I decided that other Scandinavians were looking for the same things as me, so I took the chance to start my own business: Ana’s Norwegian Bakeri.
COF: Where did you learn to bake?
AF: It’s genetic for me. I grew up with a dad who baked a whole lot, and a mom who cooked a whole lot. And their parents baked and cooked a lot. When I was a little girl, my dad would get up in the middle of the night to bake cinnamon rolls for me and my two brothers to share with our classmates. That memory sticks with me, and I want my kids to have that same feeling.
I am a self-taught baker. It is something that comes easily to me. I bake the things that I miss the most and like the most from Norway, and everything I make is based on family recipes. The response from other Scandinavians has been amazing. I just needed to have the support and faith to believe in myself that I could do this.
COF: How do you sell your baked goods?
AF: Up until this point, I baked at my home and sold at farmers markets and direct sales. But we just opened a brick-and-mortar location at 6770 S. Yosemite Street in Centennial, Colo. We will be offering coffee and some of our baked goods, and we’ll expand our menu in the future. People can order online or come to the bakery. We are open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
People look at our name, Ana’s Norwegian Bakeri, and sometimes assume I spelled bakery wrong. I want to integrate my Norwegian culture without taking away from the American culture I am part of.
COF: I read that you specialize in boller, buns of different kinds. I feel like this is something that is beloved in Norway, but not as much in the Norwegian-American community. Can you tell me what is special about boller and how Norwegians serve them?
AF: I can share from my perspective. One of the things that I like about my boller recipe is that they aren’t too sweet; I use just one cup of sugar to make 30 boller. I use the same base recipe for all my sweet dough items, like cardamom boller, cinnamon rolls, skoleboller (school buns), solskinnsboller (sunshine buns), etc.
Most Americans don’t know what boller are. Once I explain that they are a little sweet, that typically draws them in. When you need a snack, you can buy a bag of boller and eat them while you’re walking around. If you have people over for coffee, you can slice them in half and put brown cheese on top. Fastelavnsboller (Shrovetides buns) are also popular right before Lent starts. I grew up with them as plain cardamom or with raisins, and some versions use almond paste.
COF: Any customer favorites?
AF: Apple cake is for sure the most popular right now. Cinnamon rolls are also a big favorite with my customers.
COF: Anything else you want our readers to know?
AF: One of the things I hope to do with my bakery is give back to the community. I want to partner with different groups that work with survivors of human trafficking. It’s such a huge problem, and so much bigger than people realize. I’d love to be part of helping people with this.
Ana’s Norwegian Bakeri is located at 6770 South Yosemite Street, Centennial, CO, 80112. The bakery is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday. You can find her website (and order online) at anasnorwegianbakeri.com, and follow on social media: Facebook.com/norwegianbakeri and Instagram: @anafana80.
All photos courtesy of Ana Fanakrå
This article originally appeared in the July 23, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.