Grandmother's Old-Time Tea Cakes

READY IN: 35mins
Recipe by gijoni

My grandmother would always have a plastic tub of these cookies waiting for us when we would come to visit. This is a very old Southern recipe--my grandmother cooked for many years with a wood-burning stove, so the baking temperature is approximate. You may need to adjust the temperature up or down, depending upon your oven. Of all the wonderful things that she made, these were the best! They are great with milk or coffee, and they are a much-loved family favorite.

Top Review by dyarbo

I attempted to try this recipe on today. I agree with Pritchett, this recipe is more like a cake recipe than your old fashioned or southern tea cakes that we've grown up eating as children. What I would change about this recipe is some of the measurements. I would do 5 cups of All-Purpose (more gluten) or Cake flour (less gluten). I would change the shortening either to 1 1/2 cups of butter shortening. I would cut the buttermilk all the way down from 1 cup to 1/4th cup (4 tbsp.) Add one extra egg (2 eggs room temp). I would cut the sugar down to 2 cups instead of 2 3/4th cups. The remaining ingredients, baking soda, baking powder and vanilla extract, I would leave at 1 tsp each. If you want to add spice (which is always nice), I would add a 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and 1/8th tsp of nutmeg (this averages a pinch). To blend the ingredients, I would leave mix dry ingredients together and set aside. I would literally mix the shortening a sugar and then add the eggs one at a time. Add your vanilla extract and spices and blend well. Add your buttermilk, one tbsp. at a time. Add your dry ingredients a little at a time until blended in. Make you a ball and refrigerate for a few hours ( 2 or more until you're ready to cut shapes and bake. Don't forget to flour your cutters. These are the changes I would make. These are standard for most tea cake recipes with buttermilk. Author of this recipe, you have the right concept but just not enough ingredients to have a cookie consistency.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Mix shortening and sugar together with pastry blender or two forks.
  2. Combine eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir wet ingredients into shortening/sugar mixture.
  3. Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder together.
  4. Sift dry ingredients in with wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Dough should be the correct consistancy to roll, so you may need to add or decrease the dry ingredients as necessary.
  5. Place dough on lightly floured board or pastry cloth and roll out to approximately 1/4 inch thick.
  6. Cut cookies with round cookie cutter (my grandmother used a 2-inch biscuit cutter) and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes until just beginning to brown. Don't overcook!
  8. Store in a covered tin or plastic container.

Join the Conversation

  • all
  • reviews
  • tweaks
  • q & a