Grini Hjemmebakeri creates kransekake to your delight
A helicopter pilot takes a new direction
In 2005, Kate Günther Ellefsen, a helicopter pilot, decided to make her hobby her livelihood and founded Grini Hjemmebakeri, Grini Home Bakery. In what was once a stall, the most delicious wreath cakes, almond treats, and other goodies are conjured up. Grini Hjemmebakeri is in the barn at the Grini farm. The farm has been in the family for six generations. In the bakery, they cultivate their craft with finesse to produce the most delicious cakes. They are authentic, tasty, and gluten-free!
I also have a special connection to this place. When I was in grammar school, I used to ski 2 miles or so to school across the farmland at Grinigård during the winter. Today, the farm is home to a very popular nine-hole golf course.
When I asked Ellefsen how she got started, she said that her mother baked cakes for neighbors and some small companies. “I wanted to get a helicopter and needed money,” she said. “Therefore, I worked on a ship. It was hard work for a period and then off for a period. This was ideal for starting up a business on my own.”
Ellefsen was the Entrepreneur of the Year winner in Asker and Bærum in 2017. Both mayors of the two municipalities west of Oslo, Lene Conradi and Lisbeth Hammer Krog, presented the prize to her. At the ceremony, Kate expressed that she was happy and grateful to receive this great award. She was thankful for all the support she had received from family and friends and a fantastic customer base, and they have become her best ambassadors. All of them have been involved in the home bakery and have cheered her on from the start.
Her advice to other startups is that you need family and friends to support you. “You have to build step by step,” she said. “Focus on your knowledge and where you can make money.”
According to the local newspaper, Budstikka, she also mentioned the importance of the organization Women in Business. Their programs have helped her find good business models and motivate her to achieve further growth. The company has good growth and is profitable. Entrepreneur Ellefsen is involved in the local community and shows social responsibility by training unemployed workers at the bakery.
And Ellefsen loves to bake! Kransekake (almond wreath cake), which comes in different varieties for all seasons, is the bakery’s specialty. The kransekake is made from scratch, with no preservatives or additives. The ingredients are almonds (from California), icing sugar, and egg whites, the basics for everything made at the bakery. The egg whites come from free-range hens at a nearby farm.
Kransekake is a traditional towered cake usually served on special occasions, such as weddings, baptisms, Christmas, the 17th of May, and New Year’s Eve, and often decorated with small Norwegian flags. It features a row of rings that decrease in size from the bottom to the top—often 18 or more layers—stuck together with white icing.
The bakery also offers different ways to eat kransekake: as rods or sticks with or without chocolate at the ends or even in the shape of a basket!
Last year, they won the prestigious Det Norske Måltid (the “Norwegian Meal”), an annual competition within the food and beverage industry. She won with the product Mandelroser, almond roses dipped in chocolate.
Today, most sales are to private consumers but they also sell to hotels and companies, something she hopes to increase—but recently, the coronavirus has affected business.
“Our biggest season after 17th of May and Christmas is confirmation,” said Ellefsen. “All confirmations during the spring were postponed until October. To keep busy, we started to make marzipan and Easter sweets for companies that wanted to encourage and motivate their employees working from home offices. We delivered the gifts by car or mail. Before the 17th of May, we could have one customer at a time in the store. Everybody wanted kransekake, and there was an enormous line outside. Fortunately, we had enough for everybody.”
But Ellefsen has no intention of letting the pandemic stop her. Last year, the company had 10 to 12 employees and revenue of NOK 9 million, and now the bakery is expanding with new baking facilities in the barn, which they hope will be ready this month.
“Maybe, we will open a home bakery in America,” she says dreamily.
The Grini Farm is located only 10 minutes from Majorstuen in Oslo by subway. If you want to visit the home bakery at Grini and have a taste of their delicious offerings, you are always very welcome!
To learn more about Grini Hjemmebakeri, visit the company website at grinihjemmebakeri.no.
This article originally appeared in the Sept. 18, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.