Butter, family, and flour
Lauren Carlson of Scandilø Baked Goods shares her Norwegian roots and love of baking in upstate New York
Christy Olsen Field
Taste of Norway Editor
Instagram is my favorite social media platform. I scroll through it multiple times a day, and it’s a continual source of inspiration for recipes, home design, book recommendations, and my friends’ cute kids.
It’s also the way I keep up with food trends in Norway and the Norwegian-American community, through following different accounts and hashtags.
Recently, I connected with Lauren Carlson, a self-taught baker with strong Norwegian-American roots in Geneva, N.Y., through our mutual friend Daytona Strong, the voice of the Outside Oslo blog and long-time Taste of Norway editor of The Norwegian American.
Carlson was born and raised in Fargo, N.D., where her Norwegian great-great-grandparents settled in 1907. She and her husband relocated to upstate New York in 2013, where she churns out delicious Scandinavian treats in her kitchen.
We chatted on the phone last month to talk about her Norwegian-American roots and love of baking.
Christy Olsen Field: What’s your Norwegian connection?
Lauren Carlson: My great-great-grandparents Anton and Mathea Paulsrud immigrated from Norway in 1907 with their six boys: Gunnar, Sigurd, Otter, Magnus, Iver, and Asmund. They originally went to Saskatchewan, because pretty much all the land in the United States was settled at that point because of the Homestead Act. They connected with a cousin who lived in Nielsville, Minn. Anton’s cousin connected them to a neighbor who said, “I don’t have a lot to offer you, but here’s a log cabin on the Red River and some work on my farm.” That log cabin is still there, and the farm is still in my family today. My grandparents continue to farm the land, and they grow a variety of crops, including potatoes, corn, wheat, barley, soy beans, and more.
COF: How did you get into baking?
LC: I have always loved baking. I come from a long line of bakers: My mom, my grandma, and my great-grandma. When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time on the farm, and my grandma always had something freshly baked for us: cinnamon buns, strawberry pie, etc. I began to appreciate the Norwegian cookies and baked goods and looked up the recipes so I could make them during the year instead of just at Christmastime. My mom taught me to make Swedish kringle, and I loved waking up as a kid and seeing it on the kitchen counter! As an adult, baking was an activity that I did on Sundays, and I’d bring in treats to work on Monday.
COF: When did you turn your love of baking into a business?
LC: My co-workers told me that I should charge for them! I decided to have a booth at the farmers market here in Geneva, N.Y. I decided to call it Scandilø Baked Goods, since my nickname is Lo. My sister-in-law, who is a graphic designer, offered to make me a logo.
In upstate New York, there are a lot of Italian and Irish folks, so the treats I made for my booth were really different. New shapes, new flavors that they hadn’t really seen before. And the response was so positive!
I took a break from the farmers market this year, because I was pregnant with my first child, but I look forward to getting back.
In addition to the farmers market, I have some customers who place regular orders with me. My cardamom cake is one of my best sellers, as is almond cake and kringle. I also make kringle for a local coffee shop.
I also write about Nordic baking for Inspired Home magazine based in Fargo, N.D., which has been really fun for me.
COF: What’s are your favorite Nordic things to make?
LC: Hmmm… that’s a hard one! I typically make sweet things and yeasted breads. Krumkake is a favorite, because it’s easy to whip up, but Swedish kringle is probably my favorite. It seems so fancy and impressive, but it’s actually really easy to make.
In terms of savory Nordic things, I like to make Swedish meatballs from scratch, and my husband will make gravlax. In The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson, I like the pork loin with banana curry. It is so quick and easy, and we make it all the time in the winter.
COF: What are your favorite Scandinavian cookbooks or blogs?
LC: There are so many great cookbooks out there. I love The Nordic Cookbook and The Nordic Baking Cookbook, which are basically giant bibles of unending recipes.
Trine Hanhemann’s cookbooks are also on my list. I love Daytona Strong’s Outside Oslo blog, and Nevada Berg’s North Wild Kitchen. But my very favorites are the old Lutheran cookbooks from the Midwest, like Salem Lutheran Church.
COF: Any parting thoughts?
LC: I think it’s important, especially now that I have a child, to keep these Norwegian traditions going. My grandparents are so proud of their heritage. In 2016, my whole family went to Norway to the farmstead in Øyer (near Lillehammer) where Anton and Mathea lived. Our relatives cooked for us, and it was a really moving experience to be there. It really brought everything full circle.
To learn more about Scandilø Baked Goods, follow Lauren Carlson at @scandilobakedgoods. You can also email her at email@example.com or call (701) 306-9305 if you are interested in placing an order.
This article originally appeared in the December 13, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.