Friday, December 17, 2010

Mimi's Tea Cakes

My grandmother passed away last week at the age of 98. Mimi was known for many things -- her love of music, her devotion to her church, her bridge-playing abilities -- but my children and I will remember her through her food. There are several of her recipes I've never made because I know I'll likely have a number of failures before producing a passable dish: her fabulous chocolate pie, fudge worth fighting over, and perfect dinner rolls. Unfortunately, my altitude is going to further complicate making those dishes. I'm planning on trying to make them all in the upcoming weeks, but decided to start with something a little easier.

I made this recipe for tea cakes as a teenager. I had a card with the recipe in my teen-aged handwriting that seems to have disappeared . Mimi's recipe card cracks me up -- note there there are no directions, no oven temperature, nothing. But we do get to know that she got the recipe from Mattie Leigh's aunt, who was 58 years old at the time! According to my mom, the recipe is from my grandmother's aunt, Mattie, who was Mattie Leigh's mother, and Mimi's mother's sister.

Since I needed an oven temperature, I looked online for a similar recipe and found this one of Paula Dean's:

Southern Tea Cakes

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder together. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Dough will be soft and wet.
  3. On a floured surface shape the dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Flour surface again and roll dough out until approximately 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough into desired shapes.
  5. Bake on a slightly greased sheet pan for 10 to 12 minutes.

It is exactly the same as a double-batch of Mimi's except that Mimi's calls for more flour, and Paula Deen's uses buttermilk in place of the baking soda and salt. When I made the cookies, the dough was really stiff as I added the last of the flour so I added the buttermilk and the consistency of the dough was perfect.

I am not big on rolling out dough and cutting out cookies, but B was into it so we worked together and made Christmas trees, candy canes, stockings, stars and sailboats which he decorated with whatever colored sugar we could find. Be careful not to roll the dough to thin -- the cookies will burn at the edges and be crisp. These tea cakes are meant to be just a little soft.

1 comment:

JGH said...

I'm sorry to hear about your grandma passing away, Lynn. Sounds like she lived a long, delicious life!

I'm looking forward to making my grandmother's sugar cookie recipe this week, too! Wishing you the happiest of holidays...