Watching my grandmother (MoMo) make Teacakes is one of my most cherished childhood memories. And I loved getting the spoon to lick, (or sometimes the bowl!) while the aroma of the cookies baking filled the kitchen. (Nowadays cake mixes carry warnings about not eating raw dough. Really? )
Since MoMo didn’t need a recipe for Teacakes, all that remains is what I can remember. Below is the recipe I use for my own grandchildren or for anyone needing serious comfort food. It’s a combination of other traditional recipes and what I remember.
Flour was always sifted to make it lighter and more uniform. Also it had no preservatives, and therefore could have weevil larvae and other undesirables (preservative-free enthusiasts, take note). Since she churned her own butter, she added a little salt. Flavorings were purchased from the “Watkins Man.” (Watkins is still the best vanilla, in my mind.) Electricity wasn’t available in our part of the country until after her death, so she relied on an icebox for the most perishable items; milk not being among them. Cows were milked every morning to provide milk for the day. Cream was skimmed for churning into butter and excess milk was “soured” for cooking.
4 cups white flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup sour milk (or buttermilk)
1/2 pound soft butter
Pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)
1 teaspoon flavoring; vanilla, lemon or almond
Using a wooden spoon, cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl. In another bowl mix the sifted flour, baking soda, and baking powder and add to creamed butter in thirds. Then add eggs, milk and flavoring. Mix until a soft dough forms.
Roll out dough on a floured surface to about 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes and bake in a moderate oven (350 deg) until light brown, about 10 minutes. Dust with sugar and let cool. This recipe will make about 2 dozen “cake-like” cookies. They are best when one or two days old, served with cold milk.