Recipes so good it oughta' be a sin!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Old Fashioned Tea Cakes

The weather has changed here in the desert. A cool Sunday with rain late in the evening has given way to temps in the 50's during the day and in the 30's at night. Although we're supposed to warm up in the 60's or low 70's by the end of the week, the beginning of the week has been a chilly one. I've even had the fireplace going trying to stave off using the heater at least for a few more weeks.

I'll admit, though, that I like the change. Heat just doesn't agree with me. Of course, with cool weather comes the desire for warm drinks. Hot tea, hot coffee or hot cocoa always seem to hit the spot when the weather turns cool. When  you wake up in the mornings and spot some snow on the mountains a little bit of hot tea with some tea cakes really sets the tone for the day.

This recipe for tea cakes is adapted from one in Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has a Story . I played with the spices just a tad in this because I wanted something that would stand up nicely to strongly flavored tea or coffee. The result was fabulous. These little cookie/cakes are addicting. I've been trying to limit my intake of sweets to what a normal person would have but these pretty much blew up my intentions. I bagged up a couple dozen of these with the intention of getting them out of the house. Guess what. They didn't make it. I blew through one bag sitting in front of the fire watching movies and the other bag keeps calling my name!

The texture of these cookies is delicate and cakey. The spices give them wonderful flavors that meld together and scream Autumn: nutmeg, ginger, and a little allspice. When I did these I used vanilla sugar and left out the vanilla extract. However, I'll quote the recipe with regular vanilla extract since most people don't keep vanilla sugar in the pantry.

I think you'll really enjoy these delightful little cookies. They stand up nicely against even the strongest teas or flavored coffees.

: Old Fashioned Tea Cakes
: Delightful cookies with spices that pair perfectly with tea or coffee.


  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • pinch of allspice


  1. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat together the sugar and shortening until creamy. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and spices in a separate bowl.
  2. With mixer on low speed, add eggs one at time beating after each addition until incorporated. Add the vanilla.
  3. Add half of the flour mixture and beat at low speed until incorporated. Add the milk and then the remaining flour mixture and blend until smooth.
  4. Remove bowl from mixer and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least two hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or use nonstick aluminum foil. Scoop dough into one tablespoon mounds onto cookie sheet. Leave about 1-2 inches between each cookie. Dip a fork in flour and create a cross on the cookies by piercing with the tines. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 1-2 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 10 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
Culinary tradition: USA (Traditional)

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