I have only a few memories of my maternal great-grandmother, Momma B. I remember she was lovely, kind, and gentle. I remember that she smelled wonderful. And I remember that she made the most beautiful, sizeable tea cakes.
Tea cakes are simple to make and not too sweet — the perfect treat to enjoy at tea time, just like Martin does in "Poppi’s Birthday" from the Loving Our Grands story collection.
What are "tea cakes" exactly? I know them as a southern goodie. The traditional list of ingredients is short: flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and little more. As I understand it, they originated in the rural South where pantries were stocked with little more than basics.
I asked my mother for Momma B's original recipe and then adapted it for our household (gluten-free, dairy-free, and low sugar) and for my favorite flavors (almond).
But you can add any number of extra toppings or flavorings: cinnamon or rainbow sprinkles like my Momma B, or sprinkle baked tea cakes with fresh raspberries like Martin does with Mrs. Brown.
The gluten-free, dairy-free cookies aren't quite as sizeable as my Momma B's were, but they sure are yummy (particularly when cold). Included are also the gluten-full, dairy-full alternatives.
Momma B's Tea Cakes
- 1 cup raw turbinado sugar
- 1 cup vegan margarine (or 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened)
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 tablespoon almond extract
- 2¼ cups gluten-free all-purpose baking flour (or all-purpose flour)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ cup additional sugar to sprinkle on cookies, optional
Beat sugar and margarine (or butter) until well mixed. Add egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Blend the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Combine flour and baking soda, then gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, blending well after each addition.
Divide dough in half and shape into two rolls. Wrap the rolls in plastic wrap or waxed paper and store in the refrigerator for about 1½ hours (or 30 minutes in the freezer).
Unwrap the dough and gently slice the gluten-free dough into ½-inch slices. (The gluten-full version can be sliced in ¼-inch slices.)
Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes for firm cookies. (If using butter and regular flour, only bake for 8-10.) Remove cookies from oven and sprinkle with additional sugar, if desired.
They can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the pantry for a week or in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. (In our house, they don't last but a few days!)
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About the Author
Lisabeth Sewell has worn many hats at Sparkle over the years, from Sparkle Kitchen Blogger to Editorial Director to Doer of All Odd Jobs. Her primary role is as CEO.