Retro Recipe Card Files

Handwritten Teacake Recipe

Retro Recipe Card Files: Tea Cake


This is lost and recovered family recipe. This is my grandmother’s tea cake recipe. This is a treasure chest filled with memories of tastes, smells and textures. This is both history and the future.

I’m a procrastinator. Going through papers and such gives me an anxiety attack. In other words, I am just like my mother. She was also a procrastinator. She also disliked going through papers and such, therefore I have a garage full of papers and such from my late father Bill, his sister Gwendolyn and my maternal grandmother Thelma. And I have a room full of papers and such from my mother Vera Mae.

When I do occasionally muster up the strength to go through a few things, I often find little gems. I found my baby shoes, and wonderful old family photographs (I am currently procrastinating about a photo scanning project.) I also found a scrap of paper torn from a brown paper bag.  I could see writing, so I took a look before tossing it out. And I found a little gem, a treasure, an old recipe that conjured up memories just by looking at it.

My mother Vera Mae always had people wanting her pound cake, and my grandmother Thelma had people wanting her tea cakes.  I remember sneaking a tea cake from a buffet at some gathering or another, wrapping it in a napkin and scurrying away like a mouse with a stolen bit of cheese. And it tasted so good, probably because it was forbidden fruit. The reward of that tea cake was far greater than the fear of being caught.

Written simply on that scrap of paper bag are these ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 egg

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon B. powder

1/2# butter

Cook on 350° for 12 minutes

Tea Cake

Nutmeg to taste

Spoon batter out and press down with 2 fingers


It seems as if the recipe was being dictated to someone, who wrote it on the paper bag. A handy piece of paper to use if there was none around.

It may even have been the corner of a paper bag that had been cut open to use as a cooling mat. That is what I knew growing up. No cooling racks or other fancy stuff. You just cut open that bag, flattened it out, and put your warm baked goods on top to cool. When the baked goods were picked up there would be a grease spot, indicating the amount of butter used in the recipe. Pound cake and chocolate chip cookies left the best grease spots, in my opinion.

I haven’t made these tea cakes yet.

But I will.

Because I want to see how big the grease spot will be.