Do you ever crave a simple homemade cookie made with lots of tasty flavors? This recipe fits the bill! It’s an old fashioned tea cake made with Steen’s Syrup for a sweet molasses-like taste. The original instructions say to mix the dough with your bare hands. A little messy, yes, but worth the extra cleanup.
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A friend recently asked if I had a recipe for Tea Cakes and I told her, “No, but I know who does!”
These Tea Cakes are a flat, dense, large cookie. These “Mama’s Tea Cakes” were introduced to me by my mother-in-law, Clarice Hartshorn. She often gets asked for her to make more by those who taste them.
Mom found the recipe for these traditional southern molasses (or syrup) flavored pastries from a cookbook published in 1978. It was by the Women of First Assembly of God in Minden, LA. So this recipe comes from Louisiana by way of my Mississippi mother-in-law.
Here’s a picture of her find taken from that cookbook.
As you can see, the amount of flour is not listed in the ingredients but rather it says to mix in a large bowl of sifted flour (by hand).
When I asked Mom what this meant she said that’s how they used to mix their cookie dough. I thought about her mother and how I used to watch Mamaw make biscuits in a wooden bowl full of self-rising flour.
Mamaw would take the bowl out from the cabinet, remove the dishtowel that covered it and make a well in the center with the back of her hand. Then she’d add shortening and buttermilk (without measuring) into the well and work them into the flour until the dough was the consistency she desired. Those biscuits were a work of art as she’d pat them into rounds and lay them onto an iron skillet before popping them into a hot oven.
After covering the bowl of flour back up and returning it to the cabinet she’d then retrieve the skillet from the oven and turn those cooked biscuits onto a plate to serve with butter and her homemade cane syrup. It was always an intimidating process that kept me from even attempting to make homemade biscuits until later in my married life.
Well, I did finally learn how to master making biscuits and I share the recipe here in this Foolproof Biscuit Making 101. You should give them a try. So easy and less mess since I use a spoon to mix!
I regret not letting Mamaw teach me her way. I can still hear her giggle when I’d decline her offer. So don’t be like me and shrink back from making these “Mama’s Tea Cakes” the way this recipe gives instructions to.
Let’s get our hands dirty and work with the dough until it’s stiff enough to roll into a ball.