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Southern Tea Cakes

By April 19, 2024 No Comments

 

Southern Tea Cakes, a biscuit-like cookie, strike a perfect balance between sweet and savory.  The soft, tender texture makes them melt-in-your mouth. Made with a few simple ingredients, they are perfect for an elegant ladies luncheon or an afternoon snack with a cup of tea.

There’s something incredibly heartwarming about recipes that are passed down through generations. They are not just instructions on a page; they’re memories, stories, and lessons learned at the kitchen counter. Today, I want to share with you a cherished recipe that holds a special place in my heart, it’s my grandmother’s Southern Tea Cakes.

My grandmother was a remarkable woman, with hands that could soothe any sorrow and a laugh that could light up the darkest room. Her kitchen was the heart of her home, a place where magic happened daily. Among the many delights she whipped up, her tea cakes were legendary. But these weren’t just any tea cakes; they were made with love, a hint of lemon, and served alongside wisdom that seemed to make the world a better place.

The Timeless Charm of Southern Tea Cakes

Tea cakes are an old Southern tradition that dates back to the colonial days. They originated as simple, inexpensive treats that could be made from pantry staples: flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. Unlike the British teacake, which is a spongy, yeast-raised bread, Southern tea cakes are more akin to cookies soft, dense, and perfect for pairing with a cup of hot tea or a glass of cold milk.

What you’ll need to make my Grandmother’s Old-Fashioned Southern Tea Cakes. (Be sure to see the full printable recipe below this post.)

  • Butter
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Eggs
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Vanilla extract
  • Lemon extract

How to make Old-Fashioned Southern Tea Cakes.

1. Prep the Dough:

In a large bowl, cream together butter and shortening. Gradually add the sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.

2.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and lemon extract

3. Combine Dry Ingredients:

– In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

– Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. The dough should be stiff.

4. Chill:

– Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight. This makes the dough easier to handle and enhances the flavors.

5. Roll and Cut:

– Preheat your oven to 375 degrees

– On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1 1/4 -inch thickness.

– Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters. (About a 1 1/2 -inch cookie cutter) or you can use a small glass. Prick the sides and center of each cookie with a fork. This allows the steam to escape while cooking preventing bubbles.

6. Bake- Place the cutouts on a lined baking sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden.

– Remove from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. This is totally optional, but I sprinkled a little cinnamon sugar mixture over each cookie as soon as they came out of the oven.

Freezing and Storage Tips

Tea cakes can be frozen for up to 3 months. Simply place the cooled tea cakes in a single layer on a baking sheet to freeze them individually. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container. This prevents them from sticking together and makes it easy to grab a few whenever the craving strikes.

Serving and Entertaining with Tea Cakes

Tea cakes are perfect for any occasion, whether it’s a casual afternoon tea or a special gathering. Serve them on a beautiful cake stand or a vintage plate for that authentic Southern touch. Pair them with your favorite tea, lemonade, or even a mint julep for a truly Southern experience.

Note: Tea cakes are better served warmed. Popping them in the microwave for 8 to 10 seconds works like a charm.

Variations to the recipe: For something different to add or substitute to this recipe. Here are some ideas!

• You can add a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon

• You can add fresh lemon juice and zest to the batter

• Use almond extract rather than the vanilla or lemon extract

• Ice the tea cakes with a light confectioner sugar glaze with vanilla, almond or lemon extract.

Here are so more cookie and snack recipes for you to check out:

Lemon Coconut Bars

Disney Floridian Hotel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Italian Christmas Cookies

Be sure to check out my cookbook Deliciously Southern for a wonderful collection of tried and true Southern recipes.

Also, please subscribe to my email list so you won’t miss a thing, and follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you and if you make my recipe, use #deliciouslysouthern. Show me your pictures!😄

Thank you so much for stopping by. I’ll be back soon with more delicious recipes!

Enjoy!

Aletia

Print

Southern Tea Cakes


  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes-Plus 1 hour chilling time
  • Cook Time: 8 to 9 minutes
  • Total Time: -57225581.2 minute
  • Yield: 2 1/2 dozen
  • Category: Cookies

Description

Southern Tea Cakes, a biscuit-like cookie, strike a perfect balance between sweet and savory.  The soft, tender texture makes them melt-in-your mouth. Made with a few simple ingredients, they are perfect for an elegant ladies luncheon or an afternoon snack with a cup of tea.


Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened at room temperature

1 cup solid vegetable shortening, I prefer the Crisco brand

2 cups white granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract

4 cups all-purpose flour ( sifted and then measured)

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Optional: mixture of granulated sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle over cookies after they come out of the oven.


Instructions

1. Prep the Dough:

– In a large bowl, cream together butter and shortening. Gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

-Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and lemon extract.

2. Combine Dry Ingredients:

– In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

– Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. The dough should be stiff.

3. Chill:

– Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight. This makes the dough easier to handle and enhances the flavors.

4. Roll and Cut:

– Preheat your oven to 375 degrees

– On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1 1/4-inch thickness.

– Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters. Prick the edges and center with a fork. Pricking the cookie dough helps the steam escape while baking, preventing the dough from forming “bubbles”. Note: I like to make my tea cakes small. I use a 1 1/2 -inch cookie cutter or you can use a small cup to cut them out.

5. Bake:

– Place the cutouts on a lined baking sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden.

– Remove from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Immediately after the cookies are taken out of the oven, you can sprinkle a tiny bit of cinnamon-sugar mixture on top of each cookie. This is totally optional.

Notes

Do ahead/ Freeze Tips:

The dough can be made up serval days ahead. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator until ready to roll out. Also raw cookie dough can be frozen for up to three months. Baked tea cakes can be frozen for up to 3 months. Simply place the cooled tea cakes in a single layer on a baking sheet to freeze them individually. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container. This prevents them from sticking together and makes it easy to grab a few whenever the craving strikes.

Tea cakes are better served warm. Popping them in the microwave for 8 to 10 seconds works like magic. If they are frozen, microwave them for 5 or 6 seconds longer.

aletiadupree

aletiadupree

Hi, my name is Aletia. I am a true blue Southern girl, cookbook author, entrepreneur, self-taught food photographer and lover of chocolate.