It could have been in the late seventies, when I discovered Ikea for the first time. I had a very cool aunt and uncle who, in addition to playing me Beatles records and letting me watch Carrie, had made the trek to Vancouver from Calgary and stocked their house with furniture that seemed revolutionary at the time; all those smooth pine surfaces and clean lines.
Or maybe it came later, when I went to university and got all serious in the black lounge, smoking and drinking coffee and going on about Bergman.
These days, my love for Sweden is driven by three easily identifiable things: Detective Kurt Wallander, the tortured but brilliant protagonist of Henning Mankell’s wonderful series of police procedurals, smoked fish, and smörgås, those delectable open-faced sandwiches that are served on a lovely little squares of pumpernickel or rye.
When I first stopped eating wheat, it was rye that kept me going through those intense bread cravings. Though off limits to Celiacs and those on strict gluten-free diets, rye is comparatively low in this contentious protein and is therefore relatively easy to digest for those who are simply cutting down for reasons too complicated (and boring) to go into. Or at least that’s what I told myself. In reality, the rye was making me feel as crappy as the wheat, and so a few months ago, I began thinking about a solution. Thus began the great gluten-free pumpernickel bread experiments of September 2013, which, to my absolute delight, bore quite delicious fruit after only one attempt.
Like all gluten-free baked goods, and baked goods in general, this bread is best on the day that you take it out of the oven. Slice it into small squares, butter it up, pile some smoked fish on top and a little herb or pickle of some kind, and go to town.
Put half a cup of quinoa into a pot with one cup of water and some salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and put a lid on it. Though I prefer my quinoa a little toothy, for this recipe, I cook it well; 20 minutes should do it. Remove the pot from the stove and let it cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 degree celsius. Then dump the quinoa into a food processor and add a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, a piece of dark chocolate (the darker the better), a teaspoon of ground espresso or dark coffee, a half teaspoon each of fennel and coriander, a quarter cup of molasses and one of vegetable oil, and two eggs. Pulse.
When the batter is smooth, dump in 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup of walnuts, and 1/4 cup of some other seed, grain or nut that you like. I had puffed amaranth, so added that. Pulse lightly, just to break up the seeds.
At this point, you may find that the batter is a little wet. It should not be runny, and should actually pull together and ball up in the processor. In order to get it to this consistency, add as much gluten-free flour, cornmeal or nut meal as you need to achieve this texture. Let the dough sit while you prepare the cookie sheet.
Cover sheet with parchment paper and dump the dough onto it. It should be sticky but firm. Lightly oil your hands and press the dough out as you would with pizza dough. It should cover a normal sized cookie sheet and be about 1/2 inch thick.
Bake for 40 minutes. Cool and slice into squares.
This is also delicious served with a bowl of Swedish meatballs, and makes a mean breakfast smörgås with peanut butter and banana.