The Great Scandinavian Baking Book: Gilded Butter Cookies

Cover recipe from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas, Copyright 1988
Gilded Butter Cookies
Scandanavian1The author, Beatrice Ojakangas, (of Finnish extraction herself) traveled extensively in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland to research baking origins and traditions.  She grew up in Minnesota, an area where a slew of Scandinavian folks settled upon immigrating to the United States years ago.  If you’re writing a cookbook about authentic Scandinavian baked goods, Minnesota is the place to be (that is, if you can’t hang out in a Scandinavian country). 

Ojakangas describes Scandinavians as “Master Bakers” who love coffee and bake all kinds of good things to go with it.  I can relate to this.  Having grown up with a Swedish grandmother who lovingly fed me her Swedish baked good creations, this baking book appealed to me immediately.   When I was three years old, our family took a trip to visit distant relatives on a farm in Minnesota.  About all I can remember from that trip is the enormous amount of food that was always offered.  Sugary treats and breads were abundant at every meal. 

The book begins with a chapter on “Breads for Meals.”  Bread is the main item in the first meal of the day throughout Scandinavia.  There are also chapters on Breads for Coffeetime, Cookies and Little Cakes, Cakes and Tortes, Pastries and Pies, Savory Pies and Filled Breads.  Ojakangas chose Gilded Butter Cookies as the cover recipe.  They’re a simple, cut-out butter cookie- the very thing my Swedish Grandmother always had available to offer in her kitchen.
Scandanavian2Gilded Butter Cookies
Source:  The Great Scandinavian Baking Book

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg yolk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, salt and egg yolk until smooth.  Mix in flour.  Form dough into a ball and flatten; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate, covered, overnight or for up to four days, so that the flavors can blend.  Divide chilled dough into four equal pieces.  On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece of dough to 1/8-inch thickness.  Cut into shapes using 2-inch cutters.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 350 degrees F. until edges are lightly browned, 9 to 12 minutes.  Cool on wire racks.

For glaze, mix 1/2 tsp. gold dust with a few drops of vodka or almond extract to make a paste.  Brush lightly onto the cookies.

Notes from Culinary Covers:
*The butter cookie dough stores perfectly in the refrigerator for a few days.  I baked a batch one day and then a few days later baked some more.
*You’ll need to plan on taking the chilled dough out of the refrigerator to soften up a bit before you can attempt to roll it out.
*The dough was easy to work with. Scraps re-rolled without any problems.
*For the glaze I used a white royal icing to edge the design of the cookie and then used a brush to paint in the middle.  Once the icing hardened, I used silver luster dust mixed with vodka to paint the edges silver.
*These store in the freezer nicely- just make sure the royal icing has hardened completely before packing into freezer containers.
*There are a lot of holiday cookies, cakes and breads included in the book.

Did this recipe deserve the cover?   Yes, it appealed to me since I love Swedish butter cookies and had grown up eating them.  These cookies are buttery and delicious.  With bread being such an important part of the Scandinavian meal though, I would have thought that Ojakangas would have chosen a bread for the cover of her baking book.  Perhaps cookies appeal more to the general public?

Lori is the founder of She's a professional recipe developer and food writer, and she's the author of The Recipe Girl Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: April 2013). Beyond food, Lori enjoys traveling, being outdoors, running, and maybe even singing a little karaoke. The mountains near Lake Tahoe are home for Lori and her husband of 18 years. They have an 12 year-old son who blogs at

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5 Responses to “The Great Scandinavian Baking Book: Gilded Butter Cookies”

  1. 1

    VeggieGirl — November 30, 2009 @ 6:30 am

    Gorgeous and festive! Definitely cover-worthy.

  2. 2

    Jessica @ How Sweet It Is — November 30, 2009 @ 10:13 am

    I love how you decorated them! I am not a huge fan of butter cookies, but once I start eating them, I can never stop!

  3. 3

    Katrina — November 30, 2009 @ 7:19 pm


  4. 4

    Sophie — December 4, 2009 @ 4:34 am

    Ooooh Lori,

    These cookies look just apart & so delcious too!


  5. 5

    deana@lostpastremembered — December 4, 2009 @ 7:55 pm

    love the silver edges… great cookie… i’m inspired!

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