When my sister and I were young, my maternal grandmother used to make tea cakes all the time. They weren’t really sweet, but they were round, rich and buttery. Most of the time I couldn’t wait until they came out of the oven. I remember watching my grandmother as she hummed her favorite hymn while she whipped up a batch of tea cakes by adding eggs, butter, and sugar. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them with their rich buttery goodness that always hit the spot. I could even get away with eating a few more, especially when she wasn’t looking. LOL
In my latest novel Claiming the Doctor’s Heart, I thought about my grandmother when creating Holly Ransom’s backstory. My grandmother was an excellent baker and used to make those little cookies for us all the time. I wanted Holly Ransom to have a special connection with the tea cakes too, making it the catalyst for her family’s bakery. Everybody in Clover loved them and even after forty years, they were still their best seller. Here’s an excerpt:
The Sweet Spot Bakery was located on the corner of Pickler and Park in the rundown part of town, but the Ransoms were proud of it. Staring at the tattered store sign, she was tempted to run up to the empty display window to look inside, but that would just be more torture. She sat and reflected on a time when mouthwatering sweets that kept customers coming back were made in that building.
Iced Belgian buns and twist-tie doughnuts dominated the shelves, and of course her grandmother’s tea cakes were still a big hit. Her grandfather had always teased about taking the mixture of aromas that floated around the bakery, bottling it up, and selling it.
An overwhelming sense of loss and gratitude filled Holly as she reminisced about the place born from her grandmother’s love for baking and her grandfather’s tenacity for business. Blinking rapidly to keep back tears, she inhaled deeply to calm herself down, but it was too late.
She’d thought she was all cried out, but until the bakery was whole again, the tears were going to come.
I’m adding a recipe for tea cakes if you’d like to try them. You could even share a picture of the final product.
Tea Cake Recipe
- 1 stick unsalted butter room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- (Some people add nutmeg or lemon zest)
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda and set aside.
- In the bowl of your mixer, add butter and sugar and mix together on high speed until fluffy and smooth (about 4-5 minutes).
- Turn mixer to medium speed and add in one egg and vanilla extract and beat until well incorporated.
- Lastly, turn mixer to slow speed and add in flour mixture in intervals of three, beating after each addition to incorporate.
- After dough is well mixed, turn off mixer and remove dough from mixer and add to a ziploc bag. Place in your refrigerator for at least one hour to firm up dough.
- Once dough is firm, remove from fridge and preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
- Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a measuring tablespoon, scoop out cookie dough the size of the tablespoon and roll into a ball. Using your thumb, gently press the center to flatten a bit and place on the tray.
- Do the same for the rest of the dough leaving at least 1 1/2 inches between each dough ball.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes until golden brown on the edges and remove from the oven.
- Cool for 5-10 minutes and serve.