I remember when I was growing up, my Granddaddy's Sister, Aunt Nellie, would come to visit. All of us kids would go crazy when we saw a car pull up in front of my grandparents old, southern house. We knew 1) that Aunt Nellie was a strict disciplinarian and she would make us mind and 2) she was the best cook in the world. She made the best tea cakes. We kids (all of my cousins) would come home from school and as we crossed the railroad tracks to Granddaddy and Memma's house, we could smell those tea cakes as they baked in the oven. Aunt Nellie was an old maid school teacher. To this day, I have the old school bell that she kept on her desk to ring and let the kids know that it was either time to eat or time for recess. Aunt Nellie has been gone for way too many years, but she will never be forgotten.
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift flour, baking powder and soda.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. This is certainly different from most cookie recipes. The butter and sugar aren’t creamed first. Everything goes into the mixing bowl together after the dry ingredients are sifted. The dough will be sticky so you will need to generously flour your surface before turning out the dough.
Place the dough on the floured surface and keep adding flour until the dough loses its stickiness. Divide, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour in the refrigerator. I divided the dough in half, but the next time I will divide in fourths. The tea cakes turn out better and keep their shape if you don’t let the dough warm up prior to baking.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and take out your dough but only the part that you are going to use. Let the rest stay in the refrigerator.
Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inches thick. Cut with a small juice glass or a Vienna sausage can. I don’t think conventional cookie cutters will work right.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. I baked for the full 12 minutes and they were perfect. Cool on a rack and then store in a jar.