Old Fashioned Tea Cakes — Turns out they aren’t just for tea!

Store bought sugar cookies just don't measure up after you've had these!
Store bought sugar cookies just don’t measure up after you’ve had these!

Yesterday’s post about the Strawberry Sugar Cookie Cupcakes promised the recipe for the cookies, so here it is!

As long as I can remember, my mother has made tea cakes. I’m not sure how old I was when I finally figured out that other people called them sugar cookies. lol

I can claim no input on this recipe. It has been unchanged for at least 60 years. My mom got the recipe from her aunt and I have no idea how long she had had the recipe before passing it to my mother.

These are quite possibly the best sugar cookies around. No lie. They are a little bit of trouble, just because you have to roll them out, but it is totally worth it!

Start by creaming 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of shortening. (Yes, I am aware of how horrendously bad for you shortening is. No, I don’t use it very often. But these cookies are so good, I am not inclined to mess with the recipe in ANY way. So shortening it is.)

Add 1 well beaten egg.  (I’m not sure why you have to beat it before you add it. I’ll be honest…I usually just break it into the mixing bowl and poke the yolk to break it before turning on the mixer. That’s mostly because I really don’t want to mess up another dish. I’m lazy like that. It hasn’t seemed to hurt the cookies yet.)

In a small bowl, sift 3 teaspoons of baking powder (NOT soda, baking POWDER) with 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Alternate adding the flour mixture, 3 tablespoons of milk, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the sugar mixture. Mix well. Add more flour gradually until you have a stiff dough. (The amount will vary, depending on the weather. Seriously. Higher humidity means you’ll have to add more flour.)

Take the dough out of the bowl and put it on a floured surface. Divide it into 2-3 pieces. Roll one piece out to about 1/4″ thickness. (You can change the thickness if you like. Thicker dough means chewier cookies. Thinner dough means crisper cookies.) Sprinkle sugar over the rolled dough and lightly roll over it 2-3 times. Cut into what ever shape you like and put on a greased cookie sheet, about 1/2″ to 1″ apart. (You can also use a baking stone. No need to grease it.)

Save any dough scraps to the side. Repeat the procedure with the other pieces of dough. After you have cut all the chunks of dough, you can take the dough scraps and make another ball of dough to roll out. Try to work the dough as little as possible, because the more you handle it, the tougher it becomes. Do this until you have no more usable dough.


Bake at 400 degrees for 6 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, or on a clean dish towel if you don’t have a cooling rack.

I should warn you, though. You will never want to eat store bought sugar cookies ever again after eating these. Ever.

There is something to be said for a recipe that has held up for over 60 years!
There is something to be said for a recipe that has held up for over 60 years!

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