We made Mrs. Hick’s tea cakes and drank coffee on the front porch, just like she used to with her grandparents. We talked about writing and speaking and all kinds of other big God dreams.
This was my first introduction to tea cakes. ACF summer intern, Morgan, came over and we made her great grandmother’s family recipe together.
I had no idea tea cakes were truly a southern treasure until this week when I was reading Go Set a Watchman (the first draft of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird) and saw how Scout “was looking forward to an afternoon’s hilarity with her uncle, complete with teacakes and the strongest coffee in Maycomb.”
I could see Scout eating those tea cakes and drinking coffee. And since Morgan’s recipe is a secret family recipe … I decided to poke around, do a little research and create my own. I named this recipe after Scout, but of course you know, Scout wouldn’t have been in kitchen making tea cakes. It’s totally out of character.
Scout’s Almond Tea Cakes
1/2 cup Crisco shortening * 1 cup sugar * 2 eggs, lightly beaten * 3/4 t. half and half * 1 t. vanilla extract * 1/2 t. almond extract * 2 cups flour * 2 t. baking powder * 1/2 t. salt
Cream shortening and sugar in a mixer for 5 – 8 minutes. Add lightly beaten eggs, half and half, vanilla and almond extracts. Beat an additional 2 -3 minutes until mixture is super creamy and glisten-y. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in dry mixture a little a time with a rubber spatula. Chill dough for 40 minutes in the fridge.
Now … preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a flat baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour your hands and get ready to baby the dough. Take a pinch of dough, about the size of a golf ball and gently roll it into a ball. Then flatten the top and bottom so that it’s a tall cylinder shape and place it on the cookie sheet. Bake for about 7 minutes. Do not let the tea cake brown. Take them out when they’re the palest yellow color, like a summer moon in the hot Texas sky.
Make as few or as many as you like because that dough is good for a while in the fridge. It might even be tasty uncooked. Yay!
Tea cakes are for porch-sitting, coffee drinking and big God dream thinking. Tea cakes are for enjoying with friends and family. Tea cakes are southern and tea cakes are delicious.