Uppåkra- Potato Flour Cookies from my Swedish Grandmother

"A pinch of this, and a cup of that," is enough to make even the most seasoned baker's confidence crumble.  But, in my family, it's just another day in the kitchen.

My Grandmother came over from Sweden in her early 20's (circa 1922) and couldn't speak a bit of English. She got a job as the cook at the Wrigley's home on Catalina Island (which is now the Inn on Mt. Ada).

"William Wrigley, Jr. bought 99% of Catalina Island in 1919. He chose the setting for his new home on Mt. Ada (named after his wife, Ada) because it received first sunlight in the morning and the last rays at sunset. The Inn is 350 feet above the town and harbor. The building of the Wrigley's home was started in 1920 and completed in 1921. The couple enjoyed their home together through January 1932, when Mr. Wrigley died. Mrs. Wrigley continued to visit until 1947, when she suffered a stroke and lingered in a coma in Pasadena for 11 years. She died in 1958. From 1921 to 1932, the Wrigley's entertained a number of famous guests at their island home, including Presidents Calvin Coolidge, Warren Harding, and the Prince of Wales"
~according to their website www.innonmtada.com

...wow, I wonder if she ever cooked for one of our Presidents- she was the Catalina Island version of Downton Abbey's Mrs. Patmore!

It was there that she met my Grandfather, who also came over from Sweden, although they had never met before...

how romantic!

Frida. A woman whose "icebox rolls" aka, the best and most moist cinnamon rolls I've ever had, could have rivaled any bakery in the world. And whose Swedish Meatballs still make me drool at the thought of them. Cardamom!

Now, years later, I often wished I would have taken more time to talk to my Grandmother about our shared passion, and write down all those recipes!  But what would I have written down? 

There was no science, and little measuring... just love, a feeling, a pinch of this and a cup of that. A true baker.

Luckily, one of the recipes withstood the test of time, thanks to my beautiful Aunt, whose written version was just as vague as the ones I remember from my youth, but treasured nonetheless. In researching more, I found they are called Uppåkra, and are very popular in Sweden. A cookie whose crumb offers such a unique and lovely taste and texture, thanks to the potato starch flour. And yes, potato starch flour was popular way before gluten-free cooking was!

Uppåkra (Swedish Potato Flour Butter Cookies)

2 stick butter (at room temp. I used regular salted, as there is no extra salt added.)
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. potato starch (it is VERY important to buy potato starch flour, not just potato flour... the latter will yield very grainy cookies.  I have found it at Whole Foods and even Kroger.)
1-1/2 c. flour
Vanilla (that was it... remember, vague!  I used 1 tsp. but play around with it if you'd like.)

Roll out, and bake.  (Yes, that was all she wrote. I rolled out like regular sugar cookies, adding a bit of water if needed to make a good dough.  I placed cookies on a greased cookie sheet and baked at 350 degrees for about 13 minutes, depending on thickness.) 

And the chocolate sprinkles?  I think those are something my Aunt added to the recipe later on... they're good! Add on before you bake them.


  1. Good looking site, I recently published Coffee and Walnut Passover Cake Recipe from 'Jewish Traditional Cooking' which uses potato flour on 'Serge the Concierge'.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I just checked out your blog... what a lovely cake. Thank you for sharing it with me- really enjoy using potato flour! ;-)

  2. Just made these - a 1/4 recipe to try them out. Very tasty!

  3. Just made these - a 1/4 recipe to try them out. Tasty!

    1. Fantastic! I'm so glad you liked them... and thanks for letting me know :-)

    2. My Swedish great grandfather- Gustof Ornberg - fiercely protected his Swedish Christmas cookies recipe... All the way till he died at 105. A bit stubborn... But my grandmother Effie (his daughter-in-law) gleaned that it was very much like this recipe. The main difference was he used rum also. I know he swore by the rum...

    3. ...what was so impressive was they were shaped in wreaths and were so incredibly light! We looked forward to opening the tin each Christmas. Fortunately, as it turned out, he told the recipe to my sister when she was only 12.

    4. Faith- what a beautiful story! And rum... how interesting! I'm so glad you stopped by and spent the time to share part of your family's story. All smiles over here :-)

  4. My Grandmother was also Swedish and left there at the age of 17 in 1928, and always cooked potato flour cookies, cinnamon scrolls and meatballs of course. We always thought her cooking sometimes perculiar until we visited the Swedish church Christmas bazaar in London when I realised her perculiarities where just her swedishish. I miss her and her cooking now of course, and will see how I go making these, as I don't have any of her recipes.


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