Something you didn't know about me, but I'm a huge fan of Trisha Yearwood, her music and her food. A while back I saw an episode of hers where she made 'tea cakes' that her grandmother used to make. Of course when I was looking for inspiration for this year's Cookie exchange, I came across 'tea cakes' in one of my cookbooks and thought these might be like the one's Trisha made.
So why wouldn't I just make Trisha's recipe; I don't know. There's something about the cookbook that this recipe was adapted from. It's special to me. It belonged to Brian's nieces' grandmother who had two copies. And somehow I got one as a gift one year. Forever grateful. The cookbook is rather old and slightly marked inside, which in my opinion is the best kind. It tells a story.
Sorry about that, got a little side tracked. After making these and eating one, I thought these are plain ol'sugar cookies. But really, they aren't. Sugar cookies are typically sweeter, harder and have been cooked at a higher temperature; meant to be iced and decorated.
Tea cakes are cake-like sugar cookies; so softer, and cooked at a lower temperature and for a short amount of time. These are meant to be eaten warm, with hot tea or warm milk as well. I personally enjoyed having them for breakfast to go with my tea or coffee.
Make this a part of your family's recipes!
GRANDMOTHER'S OLD-FASHIONED TEA CAKE COOKIES
Adapted from Favorite Eastern Star Recipes: Old Family Favorites
Makes 3 dozen
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Decorative granulated sugar, optional
WARNING: Refrigerate dough for 1 hour prior to baking.
<sifting the dry ingredients>
Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium-sized bowl.
<creaming the butter and sugar>
Allow the butter to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
Cut up the butter into tablespoon sized pieces (look at the wrapper for guidance).
Add the butter to the mixing bowl of your Kitchen Aid or stand mixer and use a paddle attachment.
Beat the butter on medium-low about 1 minute or until softened. (You can go up to medium, but don't stay there too long or the butter will heat up.)
Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle attachment.
Add the sugar to the butter, gradually, with the mixer on low speed.
Increase the mixer to medium speed and beat for about 1 to 2 minutes or until light and fluffy.
Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle attachment again.
<adding the remaining ingredients>
Add eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract to the butter-sugar mixture, blend well.
Add the dry ingredients, mix well.
Knead and shape the dough into a dish on a floured surface.
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge.
<baking the tea cakes>
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Roll out on floured surface approximately 1/4 inch thick.
Cut dough with a 2-inch biscuit cutter.
Place 1 1/2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 325 degrees for 8 minutes.
If you don't have parchment paper, you should get some it's next to the foil and wax paper at your local grocery store. It makes baking so much easier!
If you still don't want to do that you can grease the sheet pan with Crisco/shortening. But I don't recommend that especially with cookies. Once the shortening heats up it could affect the way the cookie turns by getting into the dough and causing the dough to spread out more, in turn giving you a flatter cookie.