• Making The Tea Cakes Of The 1800s Vintage Recipe

    Janella Hendon is a historian from Dublin, Texas. Today she sends us a vintage dessert recipe from the 1800s. If you’ve done any reading at all from that period, you know that tea cakes graced the table whenever possible. My own grandmother went to her grave talking about “tea cakes.”

    Thanks for reminding us, Janella!


    The following recipe was hand written in a cookbook, giving instructions on how to make tea cakes. This was the recipe of Louisa Jane White Barbee of Edna Hill. She would have been making these in the late 1800s. Her grandchildren all remembered her cookies as wonderful, kept under a cloth spread over the table.

    2 cups of buttermilk*
    2 teaspoons of cloves
    2 teaspoons of soda
    2 cups of currants
    4 cups of flour
    2 teaspoons of spices *?
    2 eggs
    2 teaspoons of nutmeg
    2 cups of lard

    * Not sure if this meant 2 teaspoons of other spices or it it meant 2 teaspoons of total spices. Also, the “cups” would have been whatever she was using for cups at the time since this was before standardized measuring cups.

    No mixing instructions were given. -Janella Hendon

    This is the house where John F Barbee and Louisa Jane White Barbee reared their children. What remains of it sits near the Comanche and Erath County line – down the Edna Hill Road.

    About Fredda Jones

    Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for texansunited.com and marketing small-town Texas.
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    6 Responses to Making The Tea Cakes Of The 1800s Vintage Recipe

    1. Sandi says:

      Wonderful! I must try it! I wonder if the “spices” might have been cinnamon or perhaps any spice she had enough of? Allspice, Ginger, ? These would have been deliciously spicy cookies! I render my own lard so I think I need to try this! Thank you for posting it!

    2. Deborah Barbee Zachry says:

      I never had the pleasure of eating my Great Grandmother’s tea cakes nice to have the recipe.

    3. Janella Hendon says:

      In trying to answer the question earlier on this tea cake recipe , although I have never heard of it, the prepared mix that was mentioned earlier would make sense. They owned the Edna Hill Mercantile store, so they would have access to many of the things that were available.

    4. Barbara Barrow-Bliss says:

      My Granny raised me. LOVED her tea cakes. Hers were not spicy though….flavored with good old Watkins Vanilla extract instead. (I still remember Mr. Biddle, the Watkins man’ s visits. It was quite an occasion when he came through our area. He had a paneled black truck, don’t know if it was a Model A or Model T; I was too young to understand those things. I just remember he always gave me a little powdered perfume sample–heavenly!) Granny always stocked up on Black Pepper and Vanilla extract. Other than the flavor, the recipe looks very similar. I was fascinated when she patted out the cookie dough, then lightly rolled it out on the floured surface. We were not well-to-do and had no cookie cutter. I remember she cut the “cakes” out with a drinking glass from the cupboard.

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