When I was a child growing up, I could walk to my Grandmother’s house. I called her Memaw. She lived in a two-story, prairie house that as of now has been in the Phillips’ Family for over 100 years. It still sits on seven acres of land with a bubbling, spring-fed stream and a pond for catching tadpoles. My horse, Comanche, lived there. Almost daily Memaw made Tea Cake Cookies and kept them in a cotton cloth wrap, inside an old castle cookie jar. A step-stool stayed in the kitchen for me to step up on and raid the cookie jar…which I did often!
One day long after my college days and long since her passing, I missed those cookies. I tracked down the recipe from my fabulous, “No-One-Will-Ever-Love-Me-More” Aunt Mary, also now gone, and continue to make them to this day.
Since posting their picture on FaceBook, the recipe seems in non-stop request. It is with a very happy heart that I post it for others to enjoy. Their tastiness, timelessness, elegance and simplicity bring comfort and peace to a hurried world at a time when not all children have the glorious life of being able to walk to their Grandmother’s house and “raid” the cookie jar filled with homemade cookies.
THE RECIPE: TEA CAKES
1 cup real butter, unsalted, soften
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 Eggs (bring to room temp by setting in a bowl of warm water)
4 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract ( I spill over a few extra drops)
1/4 tsp salt
This is the original recipe. I now add 1 to 1 1/2 tsp Lemon Extract.
Cream butter. Add sugar gradually. Add 1 egg at a time. Add vanilla (and lemon) extract. Beat until smooth, creamy and totally blended.
Mix all dry ingredients together and sift very slowly into wet mixture while continuing to mix. Stir and work the dough until it is smooth and somewhat stiff. Do not use more flour than is called for because it will make the dough too stiff.
Use a cutting board or wax paper. Thinly cover with flour. Take half the dough and roll smooth with a rolling pin. I roll till about 1/4 inch or just under in thickness. Cut cookie into desired shapes. In the photo, I used a 1 1/2 inch heart shape.
Bake on I greased cookie sheet at 375 for 8-10 minutes (in my current oven, I find 12 minutes to be perfect).
Remove and cool.
GIFT IDEA: Wrap cookie in colorful cotton dish cloth or bandana scarf…tie with a bow and deliver. The cloth allows the cookies to breathe, unlike a plastic cookie bag.