My second visit to Uvdalsleiven Tradisjonsbakst is underway and as I draw nearer to the bakery, I pass the Nore og Uvdal Bygdetun with Uvdal’s stave church towering above the hill; a reminder of the days past and the history of this place. The horses have come to graze nearby and I stop for a moment to take in the surroundings. There’s a peacefulness in Numedal, in the towns which lie throughout. Enriched by gentle people, the structures of their labor and their heritage amidst a landscape of pure, unadulterated nature. I’m reminded how food has shaped and been shaped by the culture, and how certain delicacies remain as pure as the landscape. One such iconic product, which is so commonplace and at the same time ensues such nostalgia and longing for, is kling.
Hanne and Hanne Karine greet me with smiles as they carry on mixing, rolling and baking. Their day begun at 5.30 this morning, and I’m only now joining them as they carry on working until the work is done. No clock to follow, only the work of their hands counting down the minutes. Today, they are making kling. You and I might call it lefse, but to anyone from these parts, it’s kling. Whether with a smear of butter and sugar or served plain, this is kling from Uvdal. Hanne’s recipe has won over many fans, boasting a light and delicate kling, with my favorite being sugar and butter sandwiched between two kling and cut into large triangles.
Rolling each kling by hand is a practice not suitable to the demands of production. These days, a machine aids in the rolling, but in no way is an indication of the process being easy. Each dough must go through the machine a total of 14 times, and each time through, the ladies must flour, turn, adjust and observe. There is an unspoken synchronization at work. It is second nature to them, but I can see it clearly. One makes the dough, the other rolls the prepared dough and when enough kling has been rolled out, one will make their way toward the takke. If cooking one at a time isn’t hard enough, they cook two simultaneously. Alternating and flipping. And this method carries on, with each task being traded off between the two of them so there is a balance. For both mind and body.
The recipe is from her grandmother. And as each one begins to bubble and brown, they are placed on top of each other and wrapped in a blanket of plastic and fabric. Stored overnight, they will be prepared the following day. Some will be given a coating of butter and sugar, while the rest will be left plain. Hanne tells me that the plain kling goes well with warm beta soup, or topped with some butter and eaten with local rakfisk (fermented fish). She reveals that her custom is to eat it with a bowl of risengrøt (rice porridge), although this is not common practice. A habit she indulges in at home on the rare occasion.
There’s a quietness today. Hanne is quick to explain that on kling days they generally keep conversation to a minimum. They work in auto-mode and move to the beat of the radio playing in the background until it’s time for a short break. Coffee. Served black and taken on the front steps. We reminisce over the area and the history of the place. We discuss kling and markets. We agree that tradition is strong in these parts and that everyone is proud of their heritage, their recipes and the hard work that goes into every morsel. I’m not from here. I’m only a guest, but I feel closer to this valley and the people, because of these conversations and people like Hanne and Hanne Karine.
Hanne is a great example of the labor and love that goes into maintaining tradition and running a business. Her products speak for themselves in quality and flavor. And in an area where everyone makes their own version of her products and swears by their family recipe, she certainly has to work even harder to standout. And she does so gracefully. She is a great advocate for Uvdal and the traditions of the community. She’s not the only one, but she is a voice and her products carry a certain weight of importance as they tell the stories of the area’s food culture to those passing through and they can also inspire others to see the value in local products.
Many thanks to Hanne Tufto, Hanne Karine and Edyta for sharing their skills, time and coffee ♥
- 2/3 cup (150 g) margarine
- 1 Tb (10 g) lard/smult
- 4.2 cups (1 liter) whole milk
- 8.4 cups (1.05 kg) flour
Place the margarine, lard and milk in a saucepan and bring to a small boil. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl or food processor (with dough blade), place the flour and add the warm milk mixture to it. Mix together and knead well until it comes together and forms a nice, smooth dough, a couple of minutes.
Divide the dough into pieces around 140g (0.3 lbs) in weight. Shape into balls and flatten. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each dough very thinly, maintaining the round shape. It works best to roll out from the center, then out again and work around the kling rather than rolling back and forth. Use as little flour as possible.
Heat up a takke or griddle and cook each kling on top while hot. Turn the kling several times until it starts to turn golden brown and bubble a bit. Stack the finished lefse, wrap in a cloth and let rest overnight.
When the kling is cool, you can smear it with butter and sugar, top with another kling and cut into large slices. You can also leave the kling plain.
Kling with butter and sugar can be served as a treat alongside coffee or tea. Plain kling goes great paired with soups, fish, trout mousse, and/or topped with the items of your choice. Treat it as you would a tortilla.
See the first part of my visit to Uvdalsleiven and how make their traditional rømmebrød here.