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My Daddy's Teacakes
My fondest memory of my late father, who died when I was eleven, is his scrumptious teacakes. I can still recall watching him skillfully mixing the ingredients together. Back then he used fresh churned butter and eggs taken directly from the nest of chickens that ran free in our backyard. He didn’t use a measuring cup to add the right amount of flour, he used a coffee cup. To add the perfect amount of vanilla extract, he would pour twice from the bottle. Instead of whipping the butter and sugar into a creamy mixture with an electric mixer, he blended them with a whisk and folded the flour in with his hands. Every batch came from the oven with the same buttery taste.
What are teacakes?
The teacakes recipe was brought to America by British settlers. They referred to them as “little cakes” and were served with afternoon tea. Today, in Britain, they are called “tea biscuits.”
Teacakes are especially a favorite of Southerners, where cooks enhanced the taste of the British’s basic recipe by adding ingredients like almond, lemon, or orange extract or molasses. My personal recipe has the same basic ingredients that my daddy used except I use both almond and vanilla extracts. Some Southern cooks use milk or buttermilk. My daddy didn’t use milk. So, I’ve never made teacakes with milk. That’s probably why they’re soft in the middle and buttery and crunchy around the edges.
My Teacake Recipe
1 cup (2 sticks) butter (not margarine) Recommend Land-o-Lakes
1¼ cup sugar
1 large egg
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract AND 2 teaspoons pure almond extract*
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
* You can substitute almond extract and vanilla for cinnamon, lemon, orange, or pineapple extract.
Preparation: Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, almond and vanilla extracts; mix well. Gradually fold in flour and salt until mixture forms dough. Roll out on a floured board or wax paper to 1/2-inch thick. Cut into shapes; place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes until golden brown. The longer they bake, the crunchier they are when cooled. Makes 2 dozens, depending on size.
Some memories last a lifetime
For over 40 years I have cherished the memory of my father making his infamous teacakes, the smell of butter floating through the air, and the delicious taste of them. Every time I bake teacakes, I'm remembering my father.
In 2009, I had the privilege of making teacakes for the very first time for my then 7-year-old grandson and 15 year-old granddaughter. My three children grew up on them.