If you'd like to come down and visit me in the South, you don't need to hop on an airplane. You might not even need to leave your house. All you need to do is to make these cookies:
Now don't be distracted by the chocolate chips you see in the cookies - those are not important at the moment. It's the cookie that's important. The warm, lofty cookie.
These are tea cakes. Here in the American South, tea cake recipes are traditionally passed down in the family. Now my grandmother could make tea cakes with the best of them, but I didn't get the family recipe box. My mom got it and she has misplaced it.
That's not as dreadful as it sounds because there weren't all that many recipes in my grandmother's recipe box. For all I know, her tea cake recipe isn't even in it - most of her recipes were in her head. But it does make it difficult for me to make her tea cakes.
Fortunately, there are many, many tea cake recipes out there and almost all of them lead to exceptional tea cakes. Some are super simple and some are a lot more fancy. I like to make a basic tea cake recipe because it's just so very easy - you don't even need to get out the mixer.
Here's the recipe I've been using. I adapted it from my friend Kim's recipe and suggestions. Kim's from Alabama - so you know she knows tea cakes.
1.5 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup butter
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Melt the shortening and butter together and let it cool a bit.
Stir the eggs and sugar with a spoon until mixed. Slowly add the melted shortening/butter mixture and stir well. Add the vanilla and stir again.
Put the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl and mix it lightly, then add the wet ingredients and stir until mixed - careful not to stir too much.
Spray your pan with cooking spray or use parchment paper or however you like to do it. Drop the batter onto your pan by rounded tablespoons. Bake at 350º for 10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned.
Makes 30 cookies.
The South in a cookie, yes ma'am.
These little bites of heaven puff up slightly from all that baking powder. They are light and airy and delicious. You can also add whatever personal touches you'd like. Today I added those chocolate chips and some cinnamon. Kim substitutes a little whole wheat flour for the white flour. You can also add nutmeg or raisins or whatever you can think of - they're still tea cakes and always welcome at my house!
If y'all make a batch, be sure to let me know! I'd love to hear what you think of them.
If that's not enough Southern cooking for you, try the buttermilk pie!