Aunt Hanna's cakes - traditional Finnish biscuits or maybe they are cakes


Aunt Hanna's cakes - traditional Finnish biscuits or cakes

These are one of the easiest little treats you can bake. I wouldn't necessarily advertise them on their health benefits although they have potato flour in them. I don't think they would count as 1 of your 5 a day even if you ate a few. Apart from the potato flour they are essentially butter, cream and sugar. Which I think is just perfect for a biscuit. Or a cake - these are sort of half way between a cake and a biscuit. The original Aunt Hanna called them cakes, so maybe we should show respect and go with that.

I don't think I am named after the recipe, my parents were just generally fond of frumpy old names which me, my sister and three brothers are living proof of. But I don't hold a grudge against these little cakes. I remember feeling a closeness to them when I was a child and they were one of the first things I learned to bake.

This is a very simple old recipe from a time when simple ingredients were enough. It's a recipe that everyone's grandmother handed down to their daughters, there is one of these recipes in almost every family and they are all essentially the same.

Aunt Hanna's cakes - traditional Finnish biscuits or cakes

I'm not sure how far in history the recipe goes, but there is some evidence they were invented by a lady called Hanna Rehnbäck, a stay-at-home mum from Raahe, a town in the northern shores of Gulf of Bothnia. I couldn't find a year but it must have been sometime during the 19th century at the latest, because copies of the recipe start to emerge in peoples recipe collections in the turn of the century. I bet these were the macarons of their day and every self-respecting home baker would have a go at these, style a plateful with a self-crocheted doily and some geraniums, paint a quick watercolour and pin on the noticeboard at the local church.

We will never know the full story of this little biscuit because unfortunately Hanna Rehnbäck had no time to sit down and blog her latest recipes enjoying a skinny soy frappe latte in the near-by Starbucks. Her days were spent milking the cows, helping in the field during harvest, in childbirth, churning the butter, baking bread, and biscuits of course, preserving fish, mushroom and berries, crocheting doilies and looking after her pre-conception era double digit flock of children.

I remember making these as a kid and I wanted to do the original version now, but I think they would be nice with a tsp of vanilla paste, or a little zest and juice of lemon. Or with a drop of almond extract. Endless possibilities! Maybe next time.

I suppose you could replace the potato flour with normal flour, but then I suggest you use very fine cake flower to keep the light and fluffy consistency. But potato flour is good to have in the cupboard. There is a fantastic whisky cake my mother makes, made entirely from potato flour. And some whisky and sugar etc of course. So go get some potato flour.

Aunt Hanna's cake dough

Hanna-tädin kakut - Aunt Hanna's cakes recipe (makes 59 - I'm sure you can stretch it to a nice even 60)

200g butter
2dl cream
3dl sugar
1,5tl baking powder
5.5dl plain flour
3dl potato flour

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Melt the butter and let it cool for a few minutes. Mix the butter with cream and sugar. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and sift into the butter mix. Mix well.

Mold the dough into small balls (about 2cm, a little less than an inch in diameter) and place on top of a baking tray covered with greaseproof baking papaer. Bake in 200C for 10 min or until they start to brown ever so sligtly.

Keep in an airtight container in room temperature. You can also freeze them.

Tray full of Aunt Hanna's cakes - traditional Finnish biscuits or cakes

Plate of Aunt Hanna's cakes - traditional Finnish biscuits or cakes

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  1. I have loads of potato flour in! Tried making ladyfingers the other day, bit disappointed, the recipes an oven times were wrong (I will attempt them again soon). These sound better, and would probably work in a Charlotte too...hmm...*brain ticks over* I will have to try them and let you know! :D

  2. I think these would definitely work in a Charlotte - you can shape these any way you like, so could make them into fingers.

  3. I think these would definitely work in a Charlotte - you can shape these any way you like, so could make them into fingers.

  4. These are my favourite cookie/cake that my Mom (was from Finland) made.
    BUT...that Whisky cake is to die for!! My Mom made that as well and believe it or not it got better with age...meaning the drier it got the better it got!! The batter is the best cake batter I've ever had and have to refrain myself from going crazy and eating all the batter! Once that challenge is won my next challenge is to just leave the cake to age (dry out) a bit after it comes out of the oven. This cake is amazing but it most definitely doesn't taste it's best just after it cools off. It's okay then but if you leave it for a few days or even a week or more it becomes the most amazing Whiskey cake I've ever had. You let it age to dry out a bit because of the potatoes flour it's much better when some moisture has evaporated. It then becomes a very tasty crumble type of cake with an amazing rich whiskey taste!!!
    Wow!!! mouth is watering now as I think of this fantastic cake and I'm almost drooling!!😂
    I'm definitely going to have to make one ASAP!!