Wednesday Winner: (Grand National) Bake-Off # 9: Accordion Treats

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The winner, Mrs. Gerda Roderer
After all the casserole recipes from the previous Bake-Off #8, this next winner from the 9th Bake-Off has a French flair.  The grand prize winner, Mrs. Gerda Roderer of Berkeley, California was from Alsace-Lorraine before she moved to our country only four short years before the Bake-Off.  I wonder if all her friends and family back in France had even heard of the Bake-Off?  But it’s probably safe to say they were very proud of her accomplishment, and happy that a fancy French cookie would triumph in the land of ’50’s casseroles!  Mrs. Roderer brought this family recipe with her, and said she would use her prize money to further her son’s education, buy a car, and pursue art as a career.  I think she had a good start already, as these lovely cookies are a little piece of art in themselves.
Mrs. Roderer’s unique way of baking cookies probably intrigued the judges.  I have found in these early Bake-Off’s that they seemed to always be on the look-out for something a little different to offer the American home cook.  This cookie is definitely baked in a very unique process. 

To start the cookies, pieces of aluminum foil are pleated into equal-sized accordion folds to hold the dough.  The sheets of foil and dough are then placed on cookie sheets and baked.  The cookies elongate as they bake into a beautiful cookie wedge.

The cookies could be sprinkled in chocolate shot, with sesame seeds, coconut, caraway seed, or anise seed; or extracts such as rum, orange, lemon or almond could be used in place of vanilla; or the tips could be dipped in melted chocolate.  The delicious cookies are versatile, different, and fun to make.

But no matter how tasty and lovely the Accordion Treats  may be, it turns out this year of 1957 become a legend not for those cookies, but for some that did not win anything. Nada.  And they are a cookie-cult classic that every one knows.  Behold, the “Peanut Blossoms.”

It would be safe to say that most everyone knows this cookie.  They have been prepared in millions and millions of kitchens since 1957 and shown up at bake sales, parties, and reunions all over the country – and still are.  It was probably one of the most unbelievable oversights by Bake-Off judges in the history of the contest.  This classic was invented by Mrs. Chester (Freda) Smith of Gibsonburg, Ohio.  Freda had a daughter, JoAnne, who in 1965 was selected to make a television commercial for Pillsbury flour featuring her mother’s famous cookie.  Later, in 1999, the cookie was officially entered into the Pillsbury Hall of Fame. 

This Bake-Off not only produced a famous cookie, but also a famous beloved cookbook author, Beatrice Ojakangas of Duluth, Minnesota.  Before Beatrice, there were no cookbooks specifically on Finnish cuisine.  Her recipe, “Chunk ‘O Cheese Bread” was based on an old Finnish rye bread recipe, and won the 2nd Grand Prize of $5,000.  Beatrice went on to write twenty-seven cookbooks, some winning James Beard Awards.  She was also a food editor at Sunset Magazine, owned a popular restaurant in Duluth, has developed recipes for Pillsbury, Louis Kemp Foods, Jeno’s, and Chun King,  where she developed the company’s best-selling “Pizza Rolls.”  On reruns of Julia Child’s television shows, you can still view the ones where she cooked with Beatrice.

Beatrice (in striped shirt) at her winning moment
I had the joy and honor of meeting Beatrice when my daughter Kristina was competing for her 2nd time at the Bake-Off.  I was walking down a hallway when a woman suddenly stopped me as she read my name tag and said, “You’re a Finn, aren’t you? – Or at least your husband is!”   I was beyond excited to have a lively conversation with Beatrice about Finnish food.  I didn’t want it to end.  Beatrice is a lovely, sweet woman.  Not to mention she stole my heart with her massive cookbook collection! Oh, if my basement of cookbooks could have shelves like this!

I actually took a magnifying glass to read some of the cookbook titles – and we have a lot of the same books!  I am guessing that is a Marimekko apron Beatrice is wearing, which is Finnish of course.  It looks like cookies, or maybe a loaf of Finnish round rye bread.  Beatrice says she will never stop writing cookbooks.  Aren’t we all so lucky?

Other winning recipes in this Bake-Off:

Bride category third prize:  Slice ‘O Spice by Mrs. Tom McAllister of Sacramento, California
Junior first prize:  Chocodiles by Elizabeth Wickersham of Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Bride first prize:  Herb Stickles by Mrs. Marshall Ludwig of Forest Park, Illinois
Junior second prize:  Sweetheart Coffee Cake by Marianne Louise Hirt of Lucas, Kansas
Senior first prize:  Honey Chocolette Pie by Mrs. William Oakden of Belvedere, Illinois
Senior second prize:  Praline Crunch Cake by Mrs. Helen Pentleton of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts
Senior third prize:  Patio Skillet Bread by Mrs. Dorothy Ballard of Denver, Colorado
Junior second prize:  Yorkshire Burger by Paul Kellogg of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Bride second prize:  Tun-Au-Gratin by Mrs. Herbert Ward Whitney of Dallas, Texas

To read Beatrice’s website go to:

To read more about the Pillsbury Bake-Off go to:

To read my previous Bake-Off blogs: 

Bake-Off #1:  

Bake-Off #2:
Bake-Off #3:
Bake-Off #4:
Bake-Off #5:
Bake-Off #6:
Bake-Off #7:
Bake-Off #8:

For the Accordion Treats recipe:

For the Peanut Blossom recipe:

Bake-Off food photos are taken by my daughter, Kristina Vanni. Check out Kristina’s blog at:

Wow!! What a Bake-Off this was!!


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8 Responses to Wednesday Winner: (Grand National) Bake-Off # 9: Accordion Treats

  1. July 13, 2011 at 7:11 am #

    Love her expression- such awe!!
    Also like the technique- clever. Could be a French idea that we just didn’t know about. Easy.Would love this Bake-off book! dmr301 gmail

  2. July 13, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    Hi Donna-Marie! I will keep my eyes open for this Bake-Off book for you! If I find it, I’ll mail it to you.

  3. July 13, 2011 at 8:10 am #


    It is amazing that the Peanut Blossoms didn’t win anything! A Christmas isn’t Christmas at our house without making those cookies. In fact, my daughter and her boyfriend are having a Christmas in July party this weekend and when she called me last night she was making Peanut Blossoms. She said that making them gave her such a happy feeling and we both decided that was because they reminded her of Christmas, family and tradition! It must be great to create a recipe that appeals so much to other people! And you are right – it does seem like the earlier Bake-Off contests were looking for something a little bit different and unique- now it seems to be geared towards fast and simple – a trend of the times, I guess. Sort of sad )o;

  4. July 13, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    Linda, don’t you wonder if the Peanut Blossoms would win a prize now? Except now, they would probably be made with the refrigerated cookie dough!

  5. July 13, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    My goodness-such a wealth of information above and beyond the bake-off. You really know how to do research and translate it in such a warm and fuzzy way. I would love to meet all the ladies you mention in your blog today.

  6. July 13, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    Oh, Lisa – me, too! I would love to sit and chat with Beatrice for hours (while eating Finnish food, of course!). And think of what great French recipes Mrs. Roderer probably has in her recipe files.

  7. February 27, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

    I was 18 yrs when the recipe for the Accordion Treats was published in our Los Angeles newspaper. I started baking young for my 3 brothers & told my family I as going to try this recipe. Our family counted pennies & we made use of everything we had. In folding the foil, I folded it in half thus having 2 smaller cookies in each pleat. They made such a hit with our family…flash forward. Had not made them because I lost the recipe but so happy to have found a bake-off book with the recipe. I’ll be 76 yrs at the end of March & told my husband that I’m going to enter the recipe in our Ohio county fair but will do so with some tweaking. A few years ago, I did that & won 2nd prize. Guess we are never too old to try something new. I thank Mrs. Roderer for making this prize winning cookie that is simple but lovely.

    • February 27, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

      Thank you for such a beautiful story, Myrta! I agree with you that the cookies are simple but lovely, and very creative. They are one of my favorite Bake-Off recipes, and very different from most of the winners. I am so happy you wrote!

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