As a child growing up in Malmö, Sweden, Birgitta Durell took her daily knäckerbröd for granted. The earthy, dense, and sour-bitter rye crackers are everywhere in the country, lining supermarket aisles and fresh-baked in more traditional homes.
But then she moved to California. It was only a matter of weeks before Birgitta wrote to a friend back in Europe, begging for a recipe that would satisfy her craving. What she received in response was very different from her memories, using corn flour and a healthier mix of seeds. She tried it, liked it, and began baking it on the regular.
For a while, she baked just for herself – she didn’t think the crackers would appeal to American tastes. However, as a salesperson for her brother’s line of high-end Swedish cookware, she would bring knäckerbröd samples to trade shows, adding a little taste of Sweden alongside the wares. Prospective customers would eye the cookware but then clearly try to snag extra cracker samples.
The tipping point came through a lucky meeting. The Durells had the Dar family over for dinner at their Berkeley home, after they met through their school-aged daughters. The table, as was the family’s custom, was set with the beloved crackers. When Birgitta’s husband commented that he’d been trying to get her to turn the cracker into a business, Dianna (mouth full of cracker) immediately volunteered to help.
Unlike most crackers that have a base recipe and introduce different flavors through herbs and spices, Birgitta and Dianna’s crackers feature the flour. The flour IS the flavor. Her mixture of six seeds (sunflower, sesame, flax, hemp, chia, and pumpkin) never changes, but the binding flour can be one of three: original corn, cassava, or buckwheat. The two still hand-mix the batter pan by pan in West Berkeley, but Birgitta has dreams of her crackers gaining a cultish following... just like in Sweden.