Today in the quietness of a holiday afternoon....alone in the house.....everyone else at the shop working....well, technically I really was working....just doing it from home today and uploading a video tutorial to YouTube, I decided to make some Old Fashioned Teacakes from a recipe that I've had over 40 years or more.
We all have memories of being in the kitchen with a Mom or Grandmother......My Mother could made the best Teacakes you ever tasted. Don't think she used a written recipe...don't remember seeing one. But the cookies were crisp and chewy, buttery tasting and so good. We would risk burning our fingers to get them off the pan before they had cooled enough to handle. Always in danger of getting whacked by a big spoon!
My Grandmother, on the other hand, bless her heart.....she just could not bake good cookies! I never could understand why one thing like a teacake could come out so good from one kitchen and so.....not so good from another! My Grandmother's teacakes always puffed up high in the middle and were too brown.....trying not to say burnt really....around the edges. They would be soft....more like a dense small piece of cake. If my Grandmother ever said....."let's make some teacakes" we would rush in and say.....oh, well...how about some of those chocolate oatmeal cookies....and try to get her off track. You win some....you lose some......you ate what you were given. Puffed up and burnt.....they were always made with love.
Here's my Old Fashioned Tea Cake Recipe
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups Crisco (solid shortening, not oil)
1 tsp Vanilla
3 1/2 cups self-rising flour
( you will need about another 1 - 1 1/2 cups of flour when you start to roll the cookies out)
Once I started the cookie making today, I realized we had no self-rising flour. So plain flour was used instead but baking soda and salt were added. (Add 1.5 tsp of baking soda and 0.5 tsp of salt to 1 cup of plain flour)
Cream the Crisco and sugar together. The recipe calls for Crisco (solid shortening, not oil). I have used butter before, but honestly like the cookies with Crisco better.
Cream the eggs and sugar together
Add the Crisco (solid shortening, not oil). Cut the Crisco up in pieces. I use the kind that comes in sticks like butter.
Cream the shortening in until nice and smooth. Add the vanilla flavoring. Start adding the three 1/2 cups of flour a little at a time.
The mixture will be stiff, much like biscuit dough.
Prepare a surface to turn the cookie dough out on. You can use a special mat made just for rolling or cutting. I usually use wax paper laid down on the counter top. If you will moisten the counter top just a little before placing the waxed paper, or parchment paper, it will stop it from sliding around when you get ready to roll out the cookies.
The best surface, is just to use your counter top. Sprinkle flour liberally and place the cookie dough in the center. This works best, but just makes for more cleanup.
Once the cookie dough is on the waxed paper, knead in another 1 to 1 1/2 cups of flour. The dough will be fairly stiff. Stiffer than biscuit dough. You will need to sprinkle a little bit of flour any time it gets sticky and sticks to your fingers.
Sorry.....was home alone and it's difficult to take a pic and knead at the same time)) Fold dough over, push away with the heel of your hand. Do this fold and push several times until the dough is smooth.
The dough is now ready to roll out. Divide it up into about three portions and move two of them out of the way. Smooth your hands over the rolling pin with flour. Do this anytime the dough start sticking to your rolling pin.
Start rolling the dough using short strokes, easing the dough out to the edges of the paper, keeping the thickness consistent.
Prepare your pan before cutting out your cookies. This pan was just lined with parchment paper, no extra greasing or anything. But if you don't use parchment paper, lightly grease your pan with Crisco or cooking spray. Preheat the oven to about 350 degrees. (temp depends on your oven, better to be a little lower than too high to start with)
Cut out your cookies with a cutter, dust it with flour to keep the cookies from sticking to it. Usually I make mine using a biscuit cutter, but I thought I'd make this just a little bit smaller. If you don't have a cookie or biscuit cutter, you can use a glass. My mother and grandmother always just used a jelly glass.....or a snuff glass......they were the perfect size))) Just dip the glass in flour from time to time to keep the cuts clean.
Place the cookies touching, but not overlapping. The thickness of the cookie comes with practice. Too thin.....they brown too quickly.....too thick, the cookies can be hard. These are cut somewhere around about 1/8" inch. You will have areas that no matter how smoothly your rolled out your dough, some will be thicker than others. That's okay, just keep an eye on them in the oven. You might have to remove the thinner ones before the thicker ones.
Place the cookies in the center of the oven and set the timer for about 8 mins. Start checking by six minutes until you see how your cookies do in your own oven.
Then re-roll the scraps. The more you re-roll the scraps, the stiffer the dough will get. So just take another lump of your dough and work these scraps into it. Start the process all over....dusting with a little flour as you need.
Remove the cookies when they are lightly browned. Remove from pan gently using a cake spatula.
I believe this is called a cake spatula. It's one my husband's grandmother gave me to at least 40 years ago. It's really the only thing I use it for, and it's perfect for removing cookies from a hot pan. Yes, these were placed on newspaper to cool. The Daily News isn't all bad!
Cool and sample of course)) Once they have thoroughly cooled, you can store in a cookie jar, or zip lock bags....most anything.
Once the word got out that I was making Tea Cakes, the request came in for chocolate tops! So, I melted a bag of dark chocolate chips with about a tablespoon of Crisco and spooned a little bit on top of some of the cookies. Sometimes I put chocolate between two cookies......of course this means....anytime you reach for a cookie....you're taking two. Making the cookies a tad bit smaller this time was my subconscious way of saying....you don't need these....you don't these.....buy they are smaller....sooooo.
Bake cookies with your kids....or grands.....so sweet. Here's some photos from way back)))
Yes, I would say......worth all the mess to clean up)))