Jewel Peterson Ouradnik

Jewel Peterson Ouradnik of Ellison Bay, Wisconsin, is the eleventh child in a family of twelve kids with deep roots in Door County. She grew up in Sister Bay where her father worked at the lumberyard while her mother ran their small home farm. Her mother’s side of the family have been in Door County “pretty much forever, as far as [she] know[s].” Most of her father’s side have been in Door County for years as well, aside from Jewel’s grandmother who immigrated from Sweden around 1900 and moved to Door County after getting married. Her grandmother was one of many Swedes to immigrate to Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest, making a home on land already inhabited by Indigenous peoples and other immigrants. These immigrants adapted to their new home through actions large and small, creating meaning in their day-to-day interactions, practices, and habits.

Food is at the center of many daily routines and holiday traditions. The ways that immigrants learned new recipes from friends and neighbors while adapting and sharing their own speaks to the flexibility and resilience not only of the practitioners, but of the foodways themselves. This flexibility means recipes can be modified–to feed a bigger crowd, be more efficient, or to make use of the limited ingredients at hand. A baker’s particular way of measuring flour or testing the oven may be connected to specific memories or people whom they learned the recipe from. Often these actions have a practical use, others may simply be continuing quirks from generations before. But the reason is irrelevant. Each action is a mark of a baker’s style–resulting from a combination of practice, learned techniques, and individual choice. For Jewel, her love of family and their traditions is performed by preparing her mother’s recipes and sharing them with others.


Jewel’s parents hadn’t planned to open a bakery when they bought Rowley’s Bay Resort in the 1970s. Far from a highway and off the beaten path, previous owners had struggled to keep the resort in business. Jewel jokes that because they’re not on the highway, “You’re either looking for us, or you’re lost.” When Jewel’s family first moved in, they lived in a house on the property and ran a small restaurant, serving their meals buffet-style. 

A rare, quiet moment in the dining room at the resort. The beams used to build the lodge and bakery were repurposed from an on-site barn in 1979.
Many family heirlooms are on display, including the trunk that Jewel's paternal grandmother carried when she immigrated from Sweden to Chicago in 1897, arriving in Door County a few years later.
Some decorations are more directly Swedish, including a number of Dalecarian horses or dalahästar.


From the start, Jewel’s mother made everything from scratch–even the bread. People started asking if they could buy more rolls from the buffet-counter to take with them, so eventually they opened a small bakery counter. As Jewel says,

We didn’t really plan to have a bakery, but mom always made her own stuff–we didn’t like buy Wonder Bread. We made the homemade Swedish limpa, we made at the time other breads: oatmeal raisin and some of the other types of breads. Right now we just make the Swedish limpa, which is our most popular. And that’s a rye bread made with caraway and anise seed and orange marmalade, so it’s a delicious rye bread.

Their Swedish limpa is well-loved, easily the bakery’s top-selling bread.
Bakery display case with baked goods inside.
The bakery sells a number of sweeter options, ranging from cookies, turnovers, and muffins to the more Scandinavian inspired Danish puff and cardamom coffeecake.

Today, Grandma’s Swedish Bakery serves many of the same recipes, including Swedish limpa bread, but also a number of sweets like cardamom coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, and their famous half-pound pecan rolls. 

Pecan roll
Jewel says, “It is kind of our Mickey Mouse, I would say. It’s the one thing that people come here for is the pecan rolls. And they’re half pound, which is huge.”
All of the bread, rolls, and cookies are baked fresh daily, including these iced cinnamon rolls.
Cardamom coffeecake
Jewel recalls that braiding the cardamom coffeecake was one of the first things her mother taught her to do in the kitchen.

These sweets, which are also their best-sellers, are a key ingredient for another popular treat,

And the other thing that we make with these three products–the pecan rolls, cinnamon rolls, and cardamom coffee cake–is what we call Swedish skorpa, which means ‘dry bread’. We didn’t really plan to ever sell skorpa. Mom would take the day old rolls, slice them, sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar, and put them in the oven overnight, and they would be toasty. And then in the morning we would dunk them in our coffee, and then we would eat the day-old stuff. She’d put out a basket and people would start nibbling on it and say, “Can we buy some of this?” So we have to make more pecan and cinnamon rolls, and cardamom coffee cake, so that we have the day-old, so we can make the skorpa. So it’s twice-baked, similar to biscotti.

Bags of skorpa on display.
The bakery sells three different varieties of skorpa, each made from day-old pecan rolls, cinnamon rolls, or cardamom coffee cake.

Jewel’s grandmother brought some of these recipes with her from Sweden around 1900, but Jewel and her siblings learned to bake from their mother.

Almost everything is a show and tell sort of process. Mom would show us, then she'd watch us, and then she would let us. So it was kind of one of those things where, "Ok, I'm watching to see that you're doing that right, and then I'll let you do it."

Jewel Peterson Ouradnik


The recipes used at the bakery remain rooted in family tradition–even the cherries used in pies and bars come from a nearby orchard that once belonged to Jewel’s grandfather, now run by her cousin. Jewel recalls learning some basic tips as a child, like being sure to scrape the butter off the bowl’s edge to ensure cookies were properly mixed. She remembers that yeast doughs were particularly tricky to learn– how to handle them and still ensure a good rise. Jewel takes care to be sure that the bakery stays true to the recipes that Jewel’s mother used, just making the pastries in bigger batches. Sizing up or trying new recipes sometimes takes a little trial and error, and Jewel notes that a small change can make a big difference. One change they recently made was pre-baking the bottom crust on their cherry pie bars before adding the filling, ensuring an even crunchier crust.

Some of their recipes require special techniques at different stages. In this video, Jewel demonstrates how to braid the dough for cardamom coffeecake before it goes in the oven.

The sweet dough they use to make their cinnamon rolls, pecan rolls, and cardamom coffeecake is usually chilled overnight, making it less sticky and easier to handle–which is especially key when rolling out the dough and shaping the buns and loaves.

Dough rolled out on table is covered in cardamom.
Jewel explains that to make this cardamom coffee cake, "We take our dough, and we flatten it out and leave it kind of sticky on top, and sprinkle the cardamom on, fold it over, kind of knead it down so that the cardamom sticks really well.”
Baked cardamom bread loaf
The generous dusting of cardamom ensures a flavorful ribbon runs through the center of each plait, some of which is visible in this baked loaf.
They make sure to weigh out not only the ingredients, but each portion of dough to ensure even sizing and consistent bake times. Here, Jewel weighs and portions the dough for cardamom coffee cakes.

Because it is a seasonal business open in the summers, new employees are regularly coming through and learning the recipes. Jewel especially loves teaching the pecan rolls–to get them just right requires attention to a particular detail. 

You have to get the caramel to a certain stage. It’s kind of like cooking candy on the stove, you have to pull the rolls back to see that it’s bubbling a certain way, you know what I’m saying? A certain smackle to it so that we know that it actually is done.


In this video, Jewel demonstrates how to roll it out for pecan rolls and the steps involved to combine the caramel and pecans. These skills with the dough are ones she remembers learning from her mom.

Pan of pecan rolls
The bakery easily goes through twelve full pans of pecan rolls on any given Saturday during the summer.

By continuing to use the recipes she learned from her mother in the bakery, Jewel is both maintaining and sharing her family’s traditions. Seasonal employees learn the process when they start working and visitors might learn from a copy of their cookbook, “Grandma’s Home Kitchen.” Even as the recipes get doubled, tripled, and quadrupled, the significance and meaning for Jewel remains rooted in memories of time spent in the kitchen with her mother and siblings. As Jewel says, making the recipes in the bakery “is just like you do at home, just in larger quantities.” Their homestyle touch is a tradition the bakery and resort take pride in, continuing to make all of the recipes from scratch. Many guests come back year after year for family reunions and other occasions and Jewel enjoys sharing her family’s foods and traditions with them.

So that’s been fun for me, to watch the generations grow and to watch them bring their kids back. And remember us, and remember the tradition here.


Wall plaque reads "In memory of Alice Peterson, founder of Grandma's bakery"
The bakery is named after Jewel’s mother, Alice Peterson, whose recipes they continue to use, just in larger batches.
Jewel holds open cookbook
Many of their mother’s recipes are in the cookbook that Jewel’s sister wrote, “Grandma’s Home Kitchen.”

Baking is a means of connection for Jewel. To her mother’s memory, to the guests that visit the bakery, to her family’s roots in Door County, and to her Swedish-American heritage. As Jewel expands and adapts the recipes to feed the bakery’s frequent crowds, she offers a clear example of how foodways traditions can be modified to fill present needs while still maintaining a connection to past bakes, practitioners, and a heritage being sustained.

By Mirva Johnson
Interview and Photography by Bailey Green
Videography and Additional Photography by Cate Richards