Southern Tea Cake Cookies

Southern Tea Cake Cookies

These Southern Tea Cakes are tender, buttery, and lemony, and they are sure to bring you back to your childhood.

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If you’re not from the South or England, you probably were not raised on tea cakes, do not be alarmed. Like most Southern recipes, they only take a few ingredients, patience, and love to make a fantastic dessert.

Growing up, tea cakes weren’t even a thing. I even called my dad to ask him if he ever had them, and he said never.

New Orleans does desserts well, so I guess old fashioned tea cakes received the cold shoulder from beignets, pralines, and bread pudding recipes.

However, after developing this tea cake recipe, my children will not have the same story. This recipe is nothing like the old fashioned tea cakes, and it’s not my grandmother’s recipe. It just became part of my family’s recipes, and I hope these delicious southern tea cake cookies become part of your family.

Key Ingredients:

To make these superb tea cakes, you will need the following key ingredients: 

Butter

The foundation of an amazing cookie is butter. Only use unsalted butter to control the amount of salt in your baking and cooking.

Granulated Sugar and Light Brown Sugar

The second foundation of an amazing cookie is sugar. Using two types of sugar, we create a sturdy but tender cookie.  

Egg

One large egg goes a long way for cookie batter.

Lemon Zest and Lemon Juice

The zest of citrus has more flavor than the juice, and this is why we use the zest in the cookie batter and the juice in the icing.

Buttermilk

Using buttermilk ties in the Southern part of these tea cookies.  

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Ingredients for Southern Tea Cake Cookies:

Here’s everything you need to make these tasty tea cake cookies.

  • Tea Cookies:
  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Light Brown Sugar
  • Egg
  • Vanilla extract
  • Lemon zest
  • Buttermilk
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Kosher salt
  • Lemon Icing:
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Lemon juice

Common One to One Substitutions:

Don’t have everything you need? No worries. Here are some of the most common substitutions for this dish:

  • If you want to make these gluten-free, use gluten-free flour as a swap for unbleached flour.
  • Feel free to swap out the lemon zest and juice for orange zest and orange juice.
  • Feel free to swap our coarse sea salt for kosher salt. If you use table salt, reduce the amount of salt to 1/8 teaspoon.
  • If you have self-rising flour at home, you can use 3 cups as a swap for the all-purpose flour. Be sure to omit the baking powder and salt.
  • You can swap out the vanilla extract for fresh vanilla beans or almond extract.
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How to make best Southern Tea Cakes:

These are the steps and techniques you need to follow to make these spectacular tea cakes.

Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar with a hand mixer on medium until light and fluffy about 2 minutes. Add egg, vanilla, lemon zest, and buttermilk, mix until well blended.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt over a piece of parchment paper large enough for your baking sheet. Add flour to wet ingredients, mix until blended.

Add the batter to a lightly floured surface and roll dough to ¼ inch thickness. Cut cookies out with a biscuit cutter. Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until light brown. Repeat with the next batch. Cool completely for 5-10 minutes before icing.

While cookies bake in a medium bowl, whisk powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Spoon icing over cooled cookies. Icing will harden in 5 minutes.

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How to store Tea Cakes?

Storage

If you want to make this dish ahead of time, here’s how to do it:

Tea Cakes – You can make the cookie dough one day in advance and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Cookies will be good for 5 days in an airtight container on the counter. You can freeze the cookies in the freezer by keeping them in a freezer-safe container for 3 months. Thaw a few hours before eating.

Lemon Icing – You can make the icing one day in advance. Keep stored in an airtight container on the counter for 3 days.

Southern Tea Cakes Recipe Tips & Tricks:

Here are some of my top tips and tricks to help you make this dessert:

  • Do not skip the step of sifting your flour, and omitting this step will keep your cookies from being light and tender.
  • Do not overmix your batter. Once you see the flour is fully incorporated, stop.
  • We get a more tender cookie by using two types of sugars in the tea cakes.
  • Salted butter is for the dinner table, and unsalted butter is for cooking and baking.
  • Only use about ¼ cup of flour for rolling dough out; too much flour will make your cakes tough.
  • Your tea cakes will have a light brown color on top but a perfect golden brown bottom.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Southern tea cakes.

What are tea cakes?

In the Southern United States, teacakes are a well-liked kind of cookie. They’re made with butter, sugar, eggs, and flour and frequently include a lemon glaze on top.

Why are tea cakes called tea cakes?

There is no definitive answer to this question. One theory is that the name comes from tea cakes being a popular tea-time snack that began in England.

Are tea cakes gluten-free?

No, tea cakes are not gluten-free, and they are made with flour. However, you can use gluten-free flour as a substitute for all-purpose flour.

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What do tea cakes taste like?

If this is your first time having tea cakes just know that they remind me of a sugar cookie without being overly sweet but having the perfect cakey cookie texture.

Latest Recipe Video:

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What can I serve with tea cakes?

There are serval things you can serve with tea cakes, but I usually like to do an assortment of sweet treats when I make them. Here are some of my favorite Southern dessert recipes:

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Southern Tea Cakes are a classic dessert that you’ll find in the kitchens of homes across the South. They have all the qualities of an easy-to-make, delicious cake – tenderness, buttery flavor, and just enough lemon for brightness. These are perfect for serving on any special occasion or holiday because they can be made ahead and frozen! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does. If you try them out, come back and leave me a 5-star review below!

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Recipe:

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Southern Tea Cakes

Kenneth Temple
These Southern Tea Cakes are tender, buttery and lemony. They are sure to bring you back to your childhood.
4.41 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Cool 5 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Snack
Cuisine Southern
Servings 24 cookies
Calories 175 kcal

Ingredients
  

Tea Cakes:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • lemon zest of 1 medium lemon
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for rolling dough
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoons kosher salt

Lemon Icing:

  • 2 ¼ cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar with a hand mixer on medium until light and fluffy about 2 minutes. Add egg, vanilla, lemon zest, and buttermilk, mix until well blended.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt over a piece of parchment paper large enough for your baking sheet. Add flour to wet ingredients, mix until blended.
  • Add the batter to a lightly floured surface and roll dough to ¼ inch thickness.
  • Cut cookies out with a biscuit cutter. Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until light brown. Repeat with the next batch. Cool completely for 5-10 minutes before icing.
  • While cookies bake in a medium bowl, whisk powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Spoon icing over cooled cookies. Icing will harden in 5 minutes.

Notes

Storage
If you want to make this dish ahead of time, here’s how to do it:
Tea Cakes– You can make the cookie batter one day in advance and stored them in an airtight container in the fridge. Cookies will be good for 5 days in an airtight container on the counter. You can freeze the cookies in the freezer by keeping them in a freezer-safe container for 3 months. Thaw a few hours before eating.
Lemon Icing- You can make the icing one day in advance. Keep stored in an airtight container on the counter for 3 days.
For substitutions please check the “common one to one substitutions” section in the blog post.

Nutrition

Calories: 175kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 2gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 70mgPotassium: 36mgFiber: 1gSugar: 20gVitamin A: 138IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 34mgIron: 1mg
Keyword southern recipes
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