Sharing venerable tea-cake recipes

  • By Judyrae Kruse Herald Columnist
  • Thursday, January 12, 2012 2:10pm
  • Life

Tea cakes? Everett cook and longtime Forum helper-outer Donna McMahon writes, “I read about Dorothy Trethewy’s request for a recipe for old-fashioned tea cakes. She said her great-grandmother made these not-too-sweet crisp cookies, but never shared the recipe.

“This one can be found in Paula Deen’s cookbook titled ‘The Lady &Sons Savannah Country Cookbook.’

“Paula says this is a very old Southern recipe that has been handed down from one generation to another.

“Since her recipe calls for buttermilk, maybe these aren’t too sweet, as Dorothy mentioned.

“Also, since they are rolled out one-quarter inch thick, they must be crisp, another thing she mentioned her great-grandmother’s cookies were.

“I hope Dorothy finds this to be her ‘secret’ cookie recipe. I know what it’s like to have a loved one pass on (and take recipes with them), so I have tried over the years to preserve favorite recipes I’ve copied from their recipe files.”

Next up, we have a tea cookie with raisins. Another faithful Forum recipe purveyor, Marysville cook and cookbook author Dianne Berst tells us, “My mother made this recipe over and over and over again in the 1950s. It can also be found in my ‘Sharing Our Best’ cookbook.

“One thing I learned from this recipe is to ALMOST ALWAYS soak raisins in hot water before using them for baking. That way, you don’t end up with burned raisins in your cookies and pastries.”

Southern tea cakes

4cups all-purpose flour

1teaspoon baking soda

2teaspoons baking powder

2cups sugar


1/2cup buttermilk

8ounces (2 cubes) butter, softened

1teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Dough should be soft.

Roll dough out onto a floured surface until approximately 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough into desired shapes and bake on a slightly greased baking sheet for 10 to 12 minutes.

Makes 6 to 8 dozen.

Grandma Bickford’s raisin tea cookies

2cups raisins


1teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2cups sugar

3/4cup shortening


31/2cups flour

1/2teaspoon cloves

1/2teaspoon cinnamon

1teaspoon baking powder

Nuts and/or dates (optional)

Cook raisins in a small amount of water until tender. Add baking soda and let raisins and liquid cool.

Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs and beat well. Stir in dry ingredients. Drop from spoon onto greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.

The Forum is always happy to receive your contributions and requests, so don’t hesitate to send them along to Judyrae Kruse at the Forum, c/o The Herald, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206, or Please remember that all letters and e-mail must include a name, complete address and telephone number .

The next Forum will appear in Wednesday’s Good Life section.

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