When I asked my aunt for a recipe that had been in the family a long time, she showed me this one for buttermilk teacakes that my great-great Aunt Jude used to make. No one in the family knows how long these teacakes have been made, but we know for certain that my Aunt Jude, who was born in 1877, was making them in the early 1920s, according to my grandmother’s statement in the church recipe book.
The recipe itself is simple and plain, but the way it is served has changed over time. When Aunt Jude served these teacakes, she put a little sugar on top. When my grandmother made them, she would put raisins or walnuts in the batter when she had them. When my aunt makes them, she serves them with an icing she created. My cousin serves them plain, and instead of rolling the cakes out and cutting them with a cookie cutter like her mother, grandmother, and great-great aunt before her, she drops them on the pan.
1 cup shortening
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 heaping teaspoon soda
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup buttermilk
Sifted flour and extra sugar as needed
Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and salt. Dissolve soda and baking powder in buttermilk. Mix well with other ingredients. Add enough sifted flour to make soft dough, but stiff enough to roll. Cut out and place on well-greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400˚ until golden brown.