Old fashioned tea cakes have been around for generations, bringing comfort and a certain amount of nostalgia. Whip up a simple batch of these cookies for your next tea time. The best part is they are easy and use basic ingredients.
Along with easy dinners, simple treats are right up there are my list of favorite recipes.
Tea cakes are the perfect treat for those hot summer days or even cold winter afternoons where you need a bit of comfort.
I love that the ingredient checklist is short and filled with basic items that any home cook has in her pantry.
While this recipe is a little different than more traditional American cookies, they are super easy finger foods you can whip up and enjoy.
What Are Tea Cakes?
The words “tea cake” mean different things to different cultures.
In short, tea cakes are any small baked bread, cake, or cookie that are served alongside an afternoon cup of hot tea.
Often, they are somewhat crispy or dry, which makes them ideal for dipping in tea and soaking up that flavor.
Some times tea cakes are small yeasted buns filled with raisins. Some tea cakes are small sponge cakes similar to petit-fours.
Russian tea cakes are soft cookies covered in powdered sugar, and in the deep south of the United States, tea cakes are small, sweet, buttery cookies that practically melt in your mouth!
This southern tea cakes recipe is perfect for hot summertime weather.
It doesn’t require yeast, like bun-style tea cakes do. It’s also sweet enough on it’s own, without any icing or toppings that might melt in the heat!
Why You’ll Love Old Fashioned Southern Tea Cakes
- They’re perfect any time. They the perfect afternoon snack to come alongside a cup of tea and a stack of children’s books. They’re also a great option for a special treat after an easy supper!
- This is a simple recipe. Combine the ingredients, roll out the dough, use a cookie cutter of your choice, and bake! Simple cookies are perfect for busy home cooks.
- It uses simple ingredients. You very likely have all of them on hand, so there’s no need for a run to the grocery store. You can whip up a batch of buttery cookies today!
- It’s a vintage recipe. There’s just something about using recipes that are old, tried and true favorites that feels nostalgic.
Tell Me About These Southern Tea Cake Cookies
- Taste – The flavor of these tea cakes are truly delightful. They’re buttery and sweet
- Texture – The tea cake cookies have a pleasantly crispy crunch when you bite into them, but practically melt in your mouth!
- Ease – Nothing in this recipe is difficult, particularly if you use a stand mixer or electric mixer to handle the first steps for you.
- Time – Be sure to set out the butter and eggs a few hours beforehand, and the dough will work up incredibly quick.
Ingredients For This Old-Fashioned Tea Cakes Recipe
With only a handful of basic ingredients, you can whip up a batch of these favorite cookies!
- Butter – Set your (unsalted) butter on the counter to soften beforehand. It’s makes it much easier to cream butter and sugar together when the butter is already soft!
- Sugar – I use white cane sugar, but you can use many other types of granulated sugar.
- Eggs – For a smoother dough consistency, let your eggs come up to room temperature! It helps the egg yolks and egg whites break down and mix into each other.
- Flour – All purpose flour is perfect for these simple sugar cookies! If you use self-rising flour, consider skipping the baking powder.
- Baking Powder – This will give your tea cakes just the right amount of rise.
- Vanilla – Every baked good recipe worth its salt has some vanilla extract to help bring a depth of flavor!
- Salt – Adding a tiny bit of salt helps bring out the sweetness of the tea cake flavor.
- Nutmeg – You’ll often see southern recipes calling for a pinch of nutmeg! Some use lemon zest instead.
- Milk – You’ll only need a spoonful, as the butter and eggs bring most of the moisture to this recipe.
How To Make Old Fashioned Tea Cakes
- Mix The Ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients separately, then combine them together in a large mixing bowl.
- Roll The Dough. Sprinkle a small amount of flour on your countertop and place dough in the center of the flour, roll dough out and cut it into cookies.
- Bake The Cookies. Set the cookies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake to a beautiful golden brown.
How To Store Leftover Old Fashioned Southern Tea Cakes
These tea cakes will stay perfect and fresh for a week or longer as long as you keep them in an airtight container.
This could be a plastic bag, a metal tin, a cookie jar, or truly anything with an airtight seal.
You can also make multiple batches and store some in the freezer for up to a month – again, as long as it’s in an airtight container!
Tips For Perfect Tea Cake Cookies
- It bears repeating – set your butter and eggs out ahead of time! This lets your butter soften and your eggs come up to room temperature. which makes is so much easier to cream together your wet ingredients.
- The dough will come out of the mixing bowl slightly sticky. That’s good! But that can be a struggle to roll out. Be sure to sprinkle flour on your work surface and your rolling pin.
- Keep your ideal texture in mind as you roll out the cookie dough. This recipe makes a tea cake with a crispy texture. If you want tea cakes that are straight up crispy, don’t bake them for longer – simply roll out the dough more thinly! And keep in mind that all of the cookies will become crunchier as they cool.
- These tea cakes are rather thin, so you might need to take a moment to prepare your cookie sheets before using them. Use aluminum foil or parching paper to cover the bottom of the sheet pan. This makes for an easy quick cleanup, and no broken cookies as you remove them from the pan.
Old Fashioned Tea Cakes Recipe
Old Fashioned Tea Cakes
- 1 baking sheet
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar.
- Add eggs one at a time and mix until combined. Add the milk and vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.
- Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix slowly until just combined.
- Once combined, allow the mixer to knead the dough for 2 minutes.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch in thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.
- Place cookies 1 1/2 inches apart onto cookie sheets.
- Bake in a preheated 325°F oven for 9 minutes, or until done.
- Cool on a cooling rack.