Make Ahead

Aunt Da's Tea Cakes, reimagined

February 18, 2013
4 Ratings
  • Prep time 50 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Makes 38 - 40 cookies
Author Notes

Aunt Da was the much-older sister of my favorite grandmother, Nanny. We all lived in the same town when I was growing up, and she was a great cook with a few distinct specialties. I mostly remember her desserts: French Silk pie, lemon meringue pie and wonderfully simple tea cakes that seemed simultaneously substantial and light. She always made huge batches and stored them in a silver canister that seemed bottomless.
Here, I've reimagined them to be even lighter (using a combo of cake and whole wheat pastry flour) and slightly spiced with Irish Breakfast tea, Meyer lemon zest and a nice dose of marzipan (rather than the originally called for vanilla).
These are absolutely delightful, subtly flavored, not-too-sweet pillows of comfort. And, they last for weeks! Make them a day or so in advance if you can!
Great for holiday gifts and parties! —em-i-lis

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 bags Irish Breakfast tea, carefully opened, tea reserved, bags discarded
  • 1 stick butter, slightly chilled, cut into 1 tablespoon chunks
  • 3 ounces marzipan
  • 2 eggs
  • zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 cups (or slightly more) whole wheat pastry flour
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the sugar and loose tea. Add the butter chunks, and with your fingers begin to incorporate it (this is optional but I like to get it started before beating). Put the paddle attachment on the mixer and cream the marzipan, butter, and tea-sugar until well-combined. Add in the zest and then the eggs, one at a time.
  2. Add the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and when evenly incorporated, add in the milk and 2 cups of the pastry flour. When that's well incorporated, slowly add the remaining cup of pastry flour.
  3. The dough will be a bit sticky and this is OK. If it seems wet though, add a bit more flour (you're going to be rolling this out on a generously floured surface after chilling so keep that in mind). Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375.
  4. When the dough is chilled, place it on a generously floured work surface (I use a silpat covered with flour) and roll it out to about 1/2" thickness (I use a rolling pin and pastry sock). Cut into your desired shape, place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10-11 minutes, until lightly tanned on top and darker brown on bottom. Store in an airtight container.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • boulangere
  • EmilyC
  • lapadia
  • em-i-lis

9 Reviews

Willow June 21, 2020
I tried to find the Marzipan in the recipe, could find it. So, where goes the marzipan into the recipe?
em-i-lis June 21, 2020
Goodness- thanks for catching that! The instructions should read: Put the paddle attachment on the mixer, add the marzipan to the bowl, and cream the butter, marzipan and tea-sugar until well-combined. Add in the zest and then the eggs, one at a time
boulangere February 19, 2013
The marzipan is pretty brilliant, Em. Great story!
em-i-lis February 19, 2013
Thanks, cyn! Wish you could come over and eat some with us!!
boulangere February 19, 2013
Check the twitter line!
EmilyC February 19, 2013
Love the story and inspiration behind these cookies. They sound delightful.
em-i-lis February 19, 2013
Thank you so much, Emily. Aunt Da was really something!
lapadia February 18, 2013
Yum, love your combination of flavors and the delicate stars!
em-i-lis February 18, 2013
Thank you so much, lapadia!! I really appreciate your note. :)