Thursday, May 26, 2016

Southern Tea Cakes

Southern Tea Cakes - made dough April 16, 2016 from Jam Hands
Not being from the (US) South, I’d never really heard of Southern Tea Cakes. When I saw the recipe, it seemed like Mexican Wedding Cakes without the nuts and instead of a coating of powdered sugar, it was covered in a glaze. Is that “the South” they were talking about? My friends who are genuinely from the South say “nah”. So this West Coast baker will have to interpret Southern Tea Cakes as a melt-in-your-mouth vanilla cookie with vanilla glaze.

Which is what I got with this cookie. What I love about the ubiquitous Mexican Wedding Cake is the soft, moist texture with the crunchy texture and flavor of toasted pecans. The Southern Tea Cake almost but not quite mimics that texture sans nuts but isn’t quite as melty in your mouth because it isn’t rolled in powdered sugar which contributes to that melty mouthfeel. Still, this is a good cookie especially if you want a simple vanilla cookie. The glaze adds a nice sweetness. You can leave it off if you choose but I recommend adding it for a little bit of elegance just to dress it up a bit.

The dough is easy to work with and, as always, I recommend portioning it into chubby dough balls and freezing first before baking. It won’t spread as much. Err on the side of just underbaking or just baking until done. The bottoms will be a light golden brown. I couldn’t quite capture the texture in the picture on the original blog where I got the recipe from so that may also be why mine weren’t as melty in the mouth as a traditional Mexican Wedding Cake but it was still quite good.

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour

2 cups confectioners' sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together for 1 minute until combined. Add eggs and vanilla; mix until incorporated.
  2. Whisk together baking powder, salt and flour; add gradually to butter-sugar mixture, beating until just combined. Do not overmix.
  3. Portion dough into 2-inch balls, cover and chill or freeze for several hours or overnight.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Evenly space dough balls on baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden. Do not overbake. Cool on wire rack while preparing glaze.
  6. For glaze: whisk ingredients together in a bowl. Pour over tea cakes. Allow glaze to set before eating.


  1. I'm not sure what kind of cookie this is, but it is NOT the tea cake I grew up knowing.

    3 – 4 DOZEN

    2 Eggs
    4 Sticks Butter Softened
    2-Cup Sugar
    1 Small Bag Self-Rising Flour
    2 Tbs Vanilla

    All Ingredients Should Be Room Temperature.
    No Substitute On Butter. Use Butter.

    Preheat Oven To 350 Degrees. Use Ungreased Cookie Sheet.

    Using Hand Mixer Beat Butter And Sugar Together, Add Eggs, Beat Well. Add Vanilla Beat Well.

    Add Flour A Little At A Time Until Hand Mixer Begins To Struggle (You can mix the whole batch by hand if you want to. My Grandmother never had a mixer so she mixed by hand). Continue To Add Flour A Little At A Time Mixing By Hand. Dough Should Not Stick To Hands Or Feel ‘Packy’. (SOFT BUT FIRM) Depending On Weather, May Not Need WHOLE Bag Of Flour Or May Need A Little More Than A Bag.

    Pinch Off Dough In Golf Ball Size Pieces, Roll In Hands And Flatten. Put On Cookie Sheet, Pieces Not Touching. Bake Until Sides Of Bottoms Begin To Color. Bottoms Will Be Nice Brown, Tops Will Be Pale. Should Make 3 – 4 Dozen Tea Cakes Depending On Sizes Made.

    I have made the dough a little softer and then used a cookie press. When I use the cookie press I get LOTS more than 3 dozen. This is great to take to school. This cookie is not real sweet, so it doesn’t make the children hyper from a sugar overload!

    This is my Grandmother’s recipe. It is very old.

    Feel free to test this out!

    1. Thank you so much for the recipe! I love learning and trying new recipes. I've had feedback from at least one Southerner who also said this wasn't a real Southern Tea Cake so I have apparently (albeit inadvertently) hit a hot button. I can only say I followed a recipe from another blog and that's what they called it. Although you're the only person who provided an alternative recipe instead of just telling me I'm wrong and "obviously" don't know anything about southern tea cakes so I really appreciate the constructive recipe post.

      One question - how much is a "small bag" of self-rising flour? I will definitely test this one out as soon as I know - thanks!

    2. You nailed it! Looks perfect. You are correct about the small bag being approximately 2 pounds. Thank you so much!