Authentic 'Tea Cakes' from 60s-70s recipe?

arlinekJune 9, 2008

Used to love these in my twenties. They weren't the ones I've come across on the many recipe sites currently. All those are hard-like cookies with powdered sugar, I think, on top. The ones *I* used to buy from bakeries were like a cupcake in size/texture with a type of maple-like, tannish-colored glaze over the top of them, not a frosting. They were ALWAYS square shaped and not round - and perhaps flavored similar to a spice cake in some way - always very moist. Anyone remember and have a recipe for these? Thanks.

arline

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cloudy_christine

Could they be a regional thing?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 8:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
readinglady

I don't know what part of the country you're in, but here for many years a bakery on the Southern Oregon coast served a rich glazed spice muffin called "Sailor Jacks." Now they can be found in many bakeries, but always at the coast.

It may not be exactly what you're looking for, but these certainly sound like they're in the same "family."

Carol

Here is a link that might be useful: Sailor Jacks

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 11:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

Thank you, Carol. I'm not quite sure that these are your S. Jacks. I'm in So. California and always had these while living in Los Angeles. Many bakeries sold them and always in that square shape, though using the typical cupcake paper around them. The cupcake pan had to be squares instead of rounds. The glaze, which dried quite firm, and the cake itself were tannish in color; I'm now thinking maybe flavored with brown sugar. Am I THAT old that no one recalls these - lol?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 5:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
adoptedbygreyhounds

This recipe sounds similar. It doesnt have the glaze you describe, only sugar sprinkled on before baking, but I bet you could find a glaze in another recipe. In the photo, it shows a large plump round cookie, but you could just as easily cut it in squares.

IÂve had this magazine clipping for so many years, it is yellowed and I canÂt tell which magazine it came from.

Old-Fashioned Teacakes

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tablespoons buttermilk
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Additional sugar

Cream butter; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add buttermilk, and beat well. Combine flour and soda. Gradually stir into creamed mixture. Stir in vanilla. Chill dough several hours or overnight.

Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut into rounds with a 3 ½ inch cookie cutter. Place 1 inch apart on lightly greased cookie sheets and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove cookies to wire racks, and let cool completely. Yield: 4 dozen.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 8:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Ideefixe

There's a number of recipes on the 'net. At one time, in Pasadena, CA, there was a little shop called Honeybaby's Tea Cakes, but alas, they went out of business. I think that there's an African-American tradition of tea cakes (think Zora Neal Hurston's hero).

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 11:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
readinglady

I wouldn't be surprised if Sailor Jacks inspired a variation, though of course it's also possible what you're looking for comes from another source like those mentioned in "The Tea Cake Project." The fact that your bakery is in California makes it possible the recipe traveled with modifications. Bakeries tweak these recipes all the time.

It certainly doesn't take much to change a round pan to a square one. I should have mentioned for anyone who might be interested in trying the recipe that Sailor Jacks are removed from the pan and glazed upside down. The point is the glaze penetrates better due to the soft crumb.

Also, and this isn't part of your question, the King Arthur Flour book, "Whole Grain Baking" has a version with whole wheat flour and oatmeal.

Their glaze is a little different:

Glaze (optional):
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp milk

Carol

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 11:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

Adopted: Thank you, but those are cookies, which is what I keep finding on the internet as mentioned and not, sob, what I'm looking for.

To hopefully not belabor the point, the cupcake-like confections are square-shaped individually. I.E., each cupcake is a square with the paper liner (the shape, of course, not being vital to the taste). No matter which bakery I bought them from, they were always square and they always tasted the same; that's why I'm convinced it was a popular recipe during the 60s-70s. So, it's not that the cupcakes are baked in a square pan and then cut up into individ. portions.

And the "Tea Cake Project," despite minimal info on their website, seems to indicate that, once again, their concept is for cookies, not a cupcake-like dessert.

Anyone else from "my generation"? lol

Carol, I DID look at your S. Jack's recipe but felt that with all the strong spices and raisins and that the topping is so different, it's just not likely to be what I'm trying to find. I'm convinced they were made with brown sugar as a primary ingredient.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 4:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
readinglady

I worded it poorly. I knew you meant individual square cakes.

I'll keep looking and I'm sure others will too. What you've said about not using strong spices and raisins and calling for brown sugar helps narrow it. Anything else you remember about them?

P.S. I am the "right vintage" LOL, but I wasn't much of a cook in the '60's and '70's. I'll check my old cookbooks, though. I know how frustrating it is when you're trying to re-create a particular recipe and not having much luck.

Carol

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 5:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
leafy_nm

Could it have been something like this, but with a brown sugar glaze? A question about yours, were they made in square cupcake liners, or baked in a pan and cut into squares and put in the liners to sell?

Here's the one I was thinking of. It tastes like it has brown sugar in it, but it does use white sugar:

SPANISH BAR CAKE

3 c. seedless raisins (15 oz.)
3 c. water
2 1/2 - 2 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. butter, soft
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. white sugar

Cover raisins and cook 20 minutes. Simmer after they start to boil. Drain. Keep 1 cup liquid. Cool raisins and liquid well, add raisins to cream mixture after eggs. Add dry ingredients plus liquid. Bake in 9"x13" loaf pan at 350 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes.

NUTMEG ICING:

2 c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
Dash nutmeg
2 tbsp. light cream

Put on cooled cake.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 6:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
teresa_nc7

arline,
do you think your tea cakes were of the Tennessee Tea Cake variety? Did you say the location where you found them?

There is a discussion on Recipe Link about Tennessee Tea Cakes that are made with brown sugar, no icing and I see there is a company producing 'authentic' TN tea cakes.

Here is a recipe I found on Recipe Link:

TENNESSEE T-CAKES (COPYCAT)

4 oz butter
1 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
5 oz (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line mini muffin pan with mini muffin paper liners.

Heat the butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat stirring until the sugar has dissolved; cook 1 minute more. Set the pan aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Stir the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla into the cooled mixture. Add the flour and salt, stirring just to blend. Portion the batter into the paper lined muffin cups filling about 3/4 full.

Bake about 15 minutes until the set but not dry.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 7:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

Yes, Teresa; coincidentally I DID find this same website & recipe today and printed out the recipe. I just don't think it's the one but I'm definitely going to give it a try - thanks so much.

And Leafy, as I've said before, no raisins, no large baking pan. Clearly each cake was baked in it's own paper liner, in a square shape. Do appreciate your trying.

Still will keep hoping.

arline

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 1:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
teresa_nc7

I have seen images on the web of cupcakes or English fairy cakes that look square: if cup cake liners are placed close to each other on a baking sheet and not in a muffin pan they kind of form a more square-ish cake when the cake batter is poured in and it fills the paper. I've not ever seen square cup cake liners, but that doesn't mean that they don't exist.

Another thought is too use a yellow cup cake batter or sponge cake batter to make the cakes and see if that approximates the cake texture. Then work on the icing; if it was pale tan it might have been made with dark amber grade B maple syrup (the best tasting IMO). Or maybe it was just a thin powdered sugar glaze with maple flavoring in it?

You've given us a challenge, Arline! Do you remember the name of the bakery where you bought them?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 7:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cloudy_christine

There may be someone on the forum who knows about these but isn't reading this thread. Many forum members live in southern California, and I know some of them have lived there all their lives. I think you're saying the cakes were not just the specialty of one bakery, but were more widely available where you lived. Why not start another thread with a subject line mentioning the location, targeted to get the attention of the people who are likely to know about these cakes?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 7:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cloud_swift

I grew up in the LA area (San Fernando valley) in the 50s and 60s and don't recall these. We must have frequented different bakeries.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 10:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
teresa_nc7

I checked several cookbooks from the 60's and 70's last night but all their "tea cake" recipes were the southern style - a plain vanilla cookie rolled and cut out.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 10:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
compumom

I grew up in the SFV in that era as well. I recall them, not that they were a favorite, but that I do recall tasting and seeing them often. Come to think of it, I've not seen them in quite a while. I doubt there was any cinnamon, probably just brown sugar.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 12:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

Yes, I was a San Fernando Valleyite during the 60s-2002 and that definitely was where I had them - at MULTIPLE bakeries. (I've come to realize not everyone is anal like me and reads all the messages in between!!). Don't recall the names of any of the bakeries at all, unfortunately. I'm glad, Ellen, that you acknowledged that I'm not crazy - I was beginning to wonder. I remember them being a very moist cake, that's for sure. Not dry. It wasn't a sponge cake batter, nor a yellow batter, IMO. It was clearly tan colored, as though possibly vanilla and then colored by the brown sugar or even maple. TERESA, I think you hit the nail on the head about crowding them together on a cookie sheet to make them "square shaped" - I always wondered about having square muffin pans, had never seen them, and I'm now convinced you guessed absolutely correct!

And Cloud Swift: didn't you used to go to that bakery just around the corner from me???

arline

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 4:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
teresa_nc7

Arline, don't you know we just love a good puzzle here on the Cooking forum? LOL! We (well, I am anyway) in our element when trying to reproduce a recipe from "memory" and not much else. We should have a regular "Past Foods" thread like the What's for Dinner. Ha!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 4:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
centralcacyclist

Not a recipe but are these the tea cakes you recall?

1 Like    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 7:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
readinglady

Boy, I hope someone figures out the recipe because it certainly sounds tempting.

There are square muffin pans. Here's a link to a professional bakery pan.

Carol

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 7:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
readinglady

Eureka! No recipe, but is this what they look like? (Scroll to the very bottom for a picture.)

Carol

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 7:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
centralcacyclist

Still no recipe but these sure look like what you describe. Scroll down, too.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 7:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

Barnmom: Oh my gawd - that's them, I'm sure of it!! I don't recall going to that particular bakery but they look and are described exactly as I remember them. I'm sure many other bakeries just duplicated them and that's probably what I ate! Oh, I'm so excited. It so happens my DH is going into LA on Saturday and will try and get there before 4 PM; I'll order them ahead of time. I called and only a couple of young girls were there to answer any questions. They said there was buttermilk in the recipe and some brown sugar, too. One of the articles that you linked me to mentioned about the maple-tasting icing on top, exactly as I remembered. But, the girls, if they truly know, said they were topped with lemon icing. So, I'll call tomorrow when the mgr. is there. I'm so excited. The next step will be to try and duplicate the recipe. I seem to remember during all of my searches seeing Paula Deen's and a couple others that had buttermilk in them so I might be on the right track! Oh yippee - we're getting there. The pic on the bottom of that menu, BTW, is EXACTLY as I remember them. They also show if you jump around on Martino's website the same square ones with pink or yellow ("lemon"?) icing. So, they must have diff. options for the icings. Wow, Barnmom - you DID it!! Thank you so much!!!!!! Mystery now partially solved. I will take pics when I get them as a reward for all of you sticking with me ... and again when I try and make them.

arline

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 9:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
compumom

Hurray! That's exactly as I recall too! I never went to Burbank as a kid so I know that it wasn't from that bakery either. Unless they did a land office business supplying the bakeries at the markets. There used to be a small market on Santa Monica Blvd at Beverly Glen called "Santa Glen Market". They had a great little bakery where we often would walk and buy treats. I'll bet they sold them there. I also think you're right on about the maple flavor. It was not a favorite mine, which would explain why I couldn't tell you much about them. Please let us know about your experience. Hey I might have to make a field trip, for research purposes, of course...! LOL

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 12:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
partst

I grew up in the Burbank, No Hollywood, and remember these. The icing was just a hint of maple if I remember correctly. We used to get them after a bowl of chili at Chili Johns on Burbank Blvd. Last I heard Chili Johns was still there. Anyone know if it is? Boy that had to be almost 50 years ago.

Claudia

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 1:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

Why partst, please share your age with us, won't you??

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 3:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mimsic

Wow! That was such a relief. I was scrolling down through this thread just to avoid writing a report that's overdue and got so caught up in this saga. I am thrilled. I love a happy ending. And this was such a sweet one.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 6:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bookmom41

I was in Kohl's today (Baltimore, though, not west coast) and they had one square cupcake/muffin pan for sale. Nonstick, heavy weight, I think it was made by Wilton but not certain. It made twelve square treats.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 10:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
partst

arlinek,

Im 64 and lived in the SFV until 1983. My dads company was on Burbank Blvd. and I worked at Disney before we moved north. Hardly ever go down there anymore and the last time I did I got lost in Burbank. LOL. I do remember a very good bakery in Toluca Lake down the street from Bobs Big Boy. Maybe thats who made them. I know Chili Johns didnt bake them at their place.

If you come up with a recipe for these please post it here. My dad really liked them and I would love to make some for him. He sold his business when he was 55 so he would have time to enjoy his retirement and he is still going strong at 87.

Claudia

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 12:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

Well, the saga is certainly not over yet! DH will be picking these up on Sat. in L.A., so I'll know about the taste by Sat. night when he returns from a day of cherry picking with the boys (28 & 33) as a tradition done every year since they were toddlers. Of course, he then has to make at least FIVE "food stops" on the way home to pick up a little of this and that that we miss so much since moving to S. Diego. Hah, all that food pickup is embarrassing. We're talking the Jewish deli, the Italian deli, the French pastry bakery, Cupids for chili dogs, Porto's for fabulous Tres Leches & potatoe balls and now THIS bakery, too. We joke that the cooler he takes just for this purpose is getting bigger and bigger every year. Next time, we may have to rent a U-Haul!! Anyway, I'm a little worried if the flavor and texture will still be there. I read several not good remarks/reviews from people who've returned to this bakery after it was closed for a few years due to problems. And, I even read a review of this product and an actual pic of the "cupcake" cut in half - and the texture did NOT look the same as I remember. So, time will tell. I'll keep all informed and with pics, as promised. In any event, I'm definitely going to try and make them - still hunting for a recipe that appears to be close. I'm rather sure it should have buttermilk and brown sugar as the primary ingred. I've got a recipe for "Tennessee Chess Cake" with brown & white sugar, butter, eggs and flour + bak. powder and vanilla but NO liquid other than heating the butter and sugar till melted. Another discussion group felt this was on the right track for someone else also looking for the same thing I am. When a recipe for cake doesn't have a liquid like milk, what does that cause the texture to be like? I'm looking for a "rough/open" texture, not tight ... and moist. What does buttermilk, in this case, do to a cake batter, as far as texture goes? I.E., could I just add, say, a 1/2 cup of buttermilk to the recipe and reduce the butter a little bit to compensate? Anybody know?

arline

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 5:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
teresa_nc7

Buttermilk combined with the leavening power of baking soda and baking powder should produce a light, airy, delicate cake. The "chess" style is very buttery, sugary, and richly dense. "Chess" was thought to be a contraction of the word "cheese" - think curd (i.e. lemon curd) with the addition of very little if any flour. Our southern lemon, chocolate, and regular chess pies are very rich and sweet, but delicious. Lemon chess pies sometimes have a mere tablespoon of cornmeal in them for texture and a nice sandy crunch.

I do have a cake recipe that uses a cake mix and brown sugar to make a very dense chess cake. It is so rich, but very good.

Good hubby to stop at all those food stops! My mom and I made sure we took our market bags with us when we went to the NC mountains recently. The farmer's market in Asheville is always on our list of "must stops!"

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 8:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
partst

Arlinek,

How is your DH going to get Cupids home without them getting soggy? When I went granite shopping in Van Nuys last year I ask our salesman if Cupids was still on Victory and he said it had closed but the one over by the college in Northridge was still there.

Claudia

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 11:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

Well, Claudia - first he will EAT most of the chili dogs, but bring a couple more home in the ice-loaded cooler he is taking. And yes, they will be a little soggy. And, we've only used the one on Nordhoff, across from the college. Of course, that's AFTER ingesting the french pastry on the way to the valley and before getting a sand. at Brent's deli to eat and bring home, while at the same time then going to the Ital. deli and getting his favorite french rolls and meat balls and sauce. Let's not forget he's now added the German deli to his stops for the wieners and luncheon meats before going to the two bakeries in the afternoon. And of course that's AFTER picking his usual 15-20# of cherries to bring home. And after the last two bakeries on the way home: he'll be having dinner at our favorite Japanese rest. in Little Tokyo. Oh dear, all in a day's work. He'll be sooooo full when he gets back here and just plum tuckered out! Did I say plums? Oh yes, he'll be buying those, too, where the cherries are in Leona Valley. I'm figuring the gas alone will run about $150 - lol.

Update on Martino's bakery: I spoke to the owner today who is reserving 6 for me of the Tea Cakes. He said there is no brown sugar in them, but I don't believe him. He said it's a "secret blend." I'm tellin' 'ya, there's brown sugar in them thar cakes. And, he did say that they DO have special cupcake pans that make square ones, much like readinglady and bookmom found. He said they were "specially made for the bakery" in the 40s. Tune in tomorrow night, folks, if I'm not rushing DH to the hospital, that is. I wonder if he's stopped by the cops, could he be arrested for conspicuous consumption?

arline

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 8:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

Okaaaaaay, here's the continuation: the tea cakes from Martino's Bakery are the RIGHT STUFF!!!! Thank you, Barnmom and readinglady. They were EXACTLY as I remembered them - just perfect. It's 11:30 PM right now, so I'll take pics of what's left (4/6) tomorrow in daylight. The last step will be to figure out how to make them. I did a lot more research tonight after tasting them and don't know if someone or somewhere else it was mentioned or not, but now I'm seriously considering that the cake part ("the tea cake") is actually commonly known as a Caramel Cake!! (Although I've never eaten caramel cake.) I had never even heard of Caramel Cake but I believe it is more widely known in the south? I copy and pasted several recipes - a couple with both brown sugar AND buttermilk in the same recipe, since the bakery owner admitted that they were made with buttermilk. I will have to make the various versions and see if they are close. All the frosting recipes with them are clearly NOT what is put on the tea cake. As I prev. stated, I think it's just a simple blend of powd. sugar, maybe a little milk and brown sugar or maple syrup to give it that color and subtle flavor. It could be like a boiled icing??? The texture of the icing is very similar to the white icing on donuts - not the clear glaze but white icing. Remember, both cake and icing/glaze are pale lt. brown sugar colored. The icing texture reminds me of the typical powd. sugar icing on Xmas cookies - it's thin and the top layer has slightly hardened/crusted over - it's clearly poured over the cakes as it is very smooth; it's not spread with a knife or anything like a thickened frosting would be. So, perhaps the cake part is like a caramel cake recipe and the icing is more like I described above. Then someone became creative at the bakery and called them "tea cakes" - why should they give their secret away? I do remember reading something, somewhere about how these started at this bakery: something about it was a local school recipe originally, but perhaps tweaked? Pics tomorrow and will look for any of your further input. Thanks for hanging in here.

arline

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 2:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
centralcacyclist

Maybe they taste like brown sugar because they are caramelizing the white sugar? It would have the flavor and color but not use brown sugar.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 2:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

Yes, a couple of my recipes DO carmel. the sugar and then either add it to the cake batter or it's integrated into the frosting, barnmom. (But all the accompanying frostings are of the thick, spreadable variety) ... Lots of choices and possibilities.

arline

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 3:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
teresa_nc7

Very good sleuthing, Arline! When you described the icing I wondered "if not maple syrup, then maybe dark Karo syrup"? Karo syrup is a corn syrup first made in 1902 and is often blended with sugar to make pies, cakes, cookies, bars, ets. Perhaps adding some of the dark Karo syrup to the icing would give that tan-ish color and slight caramel taste?

Teresa

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 9:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cloud_swift

Glad you found them arline. I'm looking forward to you posting the recipe if you get one that is close.

The Burbank location of the bakery may explain why I didn't see them growing up. We were in Reseda and then Encino. The bakeries and grocery stores that I remember were around the ~3 miles of Ventura Blvd West of Sepulveda Blvd. It sounds like your teacakes didn't get distributed as far as that from Burbank.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 12:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
readinglady

You know, I'm wondering how much sugar and butter this recipe contains. Maybe it's some kind of buttermilk sponge?

Martino's said they developed their recipe "around 1945" and sugar rationing didn't end until 1947. Whatever their "secret" it couldn't have been too exotic and would have had to be available at the time.

The late 40's and 50's were the age of cakes, so I'll bet vintage cookbooks would be a great source.

Carol

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 1:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

Okay, here are the promised pics: I downsized and cropped them, so hope they're not too big. I looked carefully and don't see any specs within the batter of any spices. The main questions are: batter with buttermilk + cake flour or A.P. flour? Tan color achieved with br. sugar or by carmelizing white sugar? Icing (tan color) from br. sugar or carmelizing or maple + what? Br. sugar AND pow. sugar + what? Hmmm, I've got several caramel cake recipes, as stated, so will have to try them all - egads. I'll end up hating them by the finish - lol. The subleties in the taste are really what get you with this moist crumb. BTW, what typically ACHIEVES this open crumb - it's not tight, for sure; I think you can see that in the pics.



arline

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 2:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
craftyrn

Check these out-- may help with the glaze/frosting part. I remember Gram making this -- she called it Penuche icing.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 7:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

thanks, craftyrn. Is the color and "translucency" quite similar to the look of the icing on the pics above? The recipes I gathered that you suggested sure sound right.

arline

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 2:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
teresa_nc7

Today I found this recipe in one of the many notebooks I made when I had access to all the newest and best cookbooks while working in a retail gourmet store. It should have that faint beige color (from the instant tea) and slight spice taste, plus, it has caramel icing.

Russian Tea Cake
uses a 9x13x2" pan, bakes at 350F

1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine, soft
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 t. vanilla
3 eggs
2 cups flour
1 TB baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/3 cup instant tea with lemon and sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cloves
1 cup orange juice

Grease and flour pan. Combine butter, sugar, vanilla in a mixer bowl. Beat well to blend. Add eggs one at a time. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients, stir to mix. Add to batter alternately with the juice. Pour into pan, bake 25 minutes at 350. Test done with a toothpick.

Caramel Icing:

1 stick butter
1/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 t. vanilla
1 16oz. box confectioners' sugar

In a medium saucepan, bring butter, sugar, and milk to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and conf. sugar. Beat until very smooth. Pour icing over warm cake.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 10:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

Thanks, Teresa. I've collected quite a few recipes now and am close to start trying. I will try yours, too, if I'm not successful(sp?). This has been very frustrating, to say the least.

arline

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 12:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hubmom

I just saw your tea cake recipe quest! I've been trying to make them off and on for 30 years. I even wrote to the LA Times' Culinary SOS for a recipe, but they published one that was NOTHING like what I was looking for. Have you come up with a similar recipe yet?

Candy

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 4:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

No, Candy. I've tried several diff. recipes and made slight changes but haven't had success yet. Have been busy the last two months but will resume my attempts in the fall. Let me know if you've had ANY success, even in a small way, won't you?

arline

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 2:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
caflowerluver

This recipe probably isn't it, but it is a cookie that puffs up and sort of is a cross between a cookie and a cake.
Frosted Tea Cakes Recipe

Clare

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 5:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
centralcacyclist

I wonder if the color isn't from using actual brewed tea in the recipe? That would also lend them a unique taste.

I know I ran across a muffin or cake recipe that had tea in it, I'll keep looking.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 8:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
centralcacyclist

I'd use plain tea and omit the spices.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 9:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
readinglady

I can't imagine that happening in the 1940's when the recipe originated.

The company says they developed the recipe about 1945 and bakeries in LA just didn't use tea in their recipes in that era.

Carol

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 10:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
centralcacyclist

Ya never know. Tea has been around a long time.

20 years ago or so I worked in a French restaurant. One day the chef flavored the creme caramel with brewed tea for something different.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 10:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
readinglady

Of course I could be wrong. And tea has been around a long time (even in the coffee-loving U.S.). But I keep thinking of the many shortages at the end of the war. My bet's on a pretty basic recipe overall.

Regardless, the baker who created the original recipe had to be quite clever.

Carol

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 4:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hubmom

Arline,
You have to remember I haven't had one in YEARS, so this is only closest to what I think they were like. As you can see, I used a recipe with buttermilk, since you discovered that to be one of the ingredients.

Tea Cakes

1 C butter
2 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 C flour
1 C buttermilk

Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs (one at a time) and then the soda and salt. Add flour alternately with buttermilk. Fill cupcakes 1/2 full. Bake @ 350 for about 25 minutes. Cool. Makes 24

Glaze

1/2 C packed brown sugar
3 T margarine
1 T milk
1 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Melt brown sugar and margarine in microwave about 30 seconds. Stir in milk, then powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Dip tops of tea cakes into warm glaze and let cool.

I also have a recipe using tea, but I liked this one better. What do you think?

Candy

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 7:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
centralcacyclist

I've seen WWII era recipes that had honey or dark corn syrup or golden syrup as the sweetener. Maybe that's the brown sugar like component and the moistness?

WW2 RECIPES

SYRUP LOAF

Cooking time: 30 minutes. Quantity: 1 loaf.

4 ozs self raising flour or plain flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda.
Pinch of salt.
2 tablespoons warmed golden syrup. ¼ of a pint of milk or milk and water.

Method:
Sift flour (or flour and baking powder), bicarbonate of soda and salt.
Heat syrup and milk (or milk and water), pour over the flour and beat well.
Pour into a well greased 1 lb loaf tin and bake in the centre of a moderately hot oven to cook for 30 minutes or until firm.

Honey Cake
Ingredients:
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening (some butter can be used in place of some of the shortening)
1 cup honey
1 egg, well beaten
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sour milk (1/2 cup milk mixed with 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar)
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

Cream shortening in bowl. Add honey and egg.

In bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add alternately with sour milk to shortening mixture. Add nuts.

Pour batter into greased and floured 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Smooth top of batter with spatula. Batter will be sticky. Bake in preheated oven 35 minutes or until done.
Recipe makes about 12 servings.

But I bet you've seen these already!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 8:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

I don't blame anyone for not wanting to read the above progression of messages, but the following ingredients are definitely in the tea cakes: flour, OIL, buttermilk, BROWN sugar (that's what gives it the caramelized flavor and color), eggs. A little hint is the mention on their website that the USC hospital used to make something similar in the 40s-50s, but it was in cake form - probably large sheet cake for easier portioning in the hospital. Then, it was "modified" to what it is today. Pics are above if you haven't looked.

arline

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 1:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mrsjas19

Omg Arlinek, me and my mom live in the Los Angeles area and we are up right now at 1:00am just surfing the Internet and then my mom said I have to find a recipe for these tea cakes that they sale in her cafeteria at work, so we searched and searched and right now we stumbled over a picture that was posted by you on youtube but she didn't know how she found the picture of the tea cakes but she was sooooo EXCITED yelling that's them that's them and some how we found this blog off google so we read each one of everyone's responses in the search for this recipe because my mom has been looking for that same exact recipe too for years lol.... My mom ended up falling asleep on the phone with me so I decided to go ahead and write this... My mom has been at her job in LA. For over 35+ years and she said they have had those tea cakes in her cafeteria at her job for years and years and she loves them just like you. We were glad to hear about Martino's Bakery in Burbank and was going to head there tomorrow but realized they are closed on Sunday's , darn.... But like you, my mom is really really interested in finding that recipe too so I was wondering if you had any luck with all the different recipes you have tried???? I am not sure how old all of these messages and posts are, but I hope you get this one and hopefully you have a winning recipe because that will just make my moms day, Thanks!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 4:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

mrsjas: Nope, I haven't yet ("found the right recipe"). I start and then stop trying periodically (in frustration) though I have been "close" and still have some accumulated recipes that I haven't tried. It's been rather elusive finding THE recipe. If YOU have any luck, please let us (me) know. I really miss them, especially being here in San Diego.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 4:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rob333

Not read the progression?! They'd be missing out. I clapped and exclaimed ha ha! as my head flew back in delight! when you got your cakes and they were the real thing. Love the picture. I hope you get to your final destination. I've enjoyed it (even the link which reminded me of the Big Boy in So CA, when I lived there).

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 8:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jojoco

I've read this thread with interest, and what keeps coming to mind is the following oatmeal cake with broiled icing.Obviously you would skip the icing. But the problem is that it doesn't have buttermilk. I'm posting the recipe for the cake part anyway, because it sounds very similar in taste and texture, and the era is right:

Oatmeal Cake from Maida Heatter's "New Book of Great Desserts"

1 cup quick (not instant) rolled oats
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark or light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13x2 inch metal cake pan. Dust it all over with rolled oats (in addition to those called for in the recipe), then, over a piece of paper, tap out excess. Set aside.

Place the cup of oats in a bowl, stir in the boiling water to mix, and let stand for 20 minutes.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter. Beat in the vanilla. Add both sugars ad beat well. Then add the eggs and beat well. Beat in the rolled oats. On low speed add the sifted dry ingredients, scraping the bolw with a rubber spatula and beating only until incorporated.

Turn into the pan and smooth the top.

Bake for about 40 minutes until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan and until it springs back when lightly pressed with a finger tip.

I have made this cake many times and it is really wonderful.

Jo

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 8:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
irishdart

Did you ever find this recipe? I've been thinking about finding it for years and was excited to see these posts.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 11:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
melissaki5

Irish - I am not sure if this recipe will work but I found a thread in Chowhound asking for the same recipe. Some one posted this one and said it was very close to the ones at Martino's bakery though not exactly the same. I guess the key to the glaze is browning the butter first. Someone mentioned a LA times article that says Martinos heats his buttermilk.. May be a good experiment to try making it with heated buttermilk. I will post a link to the chowhound thread also if you are interested on reading their comments.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 6:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
melissaki5

Here is the link to the chowhound thread

1 Like    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 6:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

Nope, still looking and trying a recipe occasionally. I still have recipes here to try; it's just so elusive and frustrating. I won't stop, though, and WILL update when I've had success.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 4:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
msmmrox27

I am familiar with Martino's tea cakes and could not find a recipe that came even close until recently. Gracie's Pastries in LA was famous for their square tea cakes back in the 60's and 70's. I tried a recipe for their tea cakes that finally surfaced and finally! ....a moist, buttermilk cake with a browgned butter glaze that some reviewers think is even better than Martino's.

I hope you enjoy the tea cakes as much as I do :)

"DADâS DANISH TEA CAKES

Whenever I mention to folks who grew up in the Los Angeles area during the 50s, 60s or 70s, that my father owned Grace Pastries, tea cakes and dobash cakes inevitably enter the conversation. While I admit his multi-layer dobash cake was great, the tea cakes always had a special place in my heart. His original tea cake recipe for 70 DOZEN and called for 16 lbs of brown sugar and 24 lbs of buttermilk (just to name a few ingredients), proved a little too unwieldy not to mention, impractical for us home kitchen bakers. So without further ado, here is the tested, tried and true recipe for a more manageable number of Grace Pastriesâ Danish Tea Cakes.

Makes 24

For the batter:

1-1/4 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup extra fine white sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs (minus 1 tablespoon)
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
2-1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
For the icing:

6 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 cups confectionersâ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons hot water
Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°.

Cream together the brown sugar, white sugar, vegetable oil, salt and vanilla. Add the eggs in three parts. Cream slowly for six minutes, continually scraping down the sides. Add 3/4 cup of the buttermilk, cake flour and baking soda until smooth. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of buttermilk.

Line the muffin cups with paper liners. Fill cups 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out on cooling racks. Repeat with any remaining batter. Let cool completely before topping with the icing.

Heat the butter slowly and cook until until golden brown.

In a separate bowl, mix confectionersâ sugar, vanilla and hot water together. Add the melted butter. Whisk until smooth.

While the icing mixture is still warm but the cakes are cooled, dip the tops of the cakes into the icing mix and cool again, careful not to layer the icing on too thickly.

Voilà !

Dad baked his tea cakes in restaurant grade square muffin tins using regular, round cupcake liners. Some specialty cookware stores may have the square tins, and you can also find them online but I found mine at, of all places, Marshallâs in the kitchen section. Enjoy!"

* Please take the time to follow the link and read about the history behind these wondrous tea cakes. Although the bakery has been closed for many years, the memories of a special family and their impact on so many loyal customers live on.

Now.....if anyone remembers and has a recipe for the LAUSD cookies from the 50's and 60's, it would be greatly appreciated :) They were cut into squares and tasted like a buttery, soft thin brownie and came in vanilla, chocolate and peanut butter flavors depending on the day/week.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 10:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Anniescribe

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. While I was attending Cal State Univ., Los Angeles I bought and ate these tea cakes in the cafeteria. This was from '79 to '83. They look and sound like the tea cakes Arline was referring to. As I remember them, they were heavenly. Never tasted anything like them since. Our old college cafeteria was knocked I think in the 80's and a new one was built in its place, serving only fast food. The tea cakes are gone. I live in the SD area now and doubt I'll be down in Burbank anytime soon to try the tea cakes at Martino's bakery. Arline, if you ever find a recipe for those wonderful tea cakes, please let me know.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 5:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
opel2014

I grew up in So Cal too and I've been craving these tea cakes since the 70's!! My grandmother used to buy them for us every weekend and I've not seen them in any bakeries, nor have I seen any recipe posts online - and I have been searching! Yours is the first post I've ever seen regarding these tea cakes! Did you have any luck in finding a recipe or a bakery that currently sells them?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 1:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

No, I've not had any luck. I sorta gave up for awhile, though I do have several recipes still to try but lost interest for awhile due to my lack of success ... and got tired of trying so many recipes that didn't quite work out.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 1:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
fyryred

I tried the recipe for Dad's Teacakes from Chowhound a few months ago and the cake portion is exactly the tea cake you are describing. Although I never patronized Grace's Bakery as I was a SFV girl, I used to purchase the square teacakes at Fedco in Van Nuys. I think Martino's used to supply several businesses with their tea cakes for resale. The icing recipe for Dad's Teacakes is similar in consistency and color but not the exact taste of the Martino's tea cakes. I purchased Wilton square cupcake/muffin pans at our local Walmart here in Nevada. I purchased an SOS cookbook recently that has a tea cake recipe in it with a slightly different icing recipe which I am going to try. I have been reading that the tea cake recipe from Martino's is a closely guarded secret. I also read somewhere that the secret to the icing in the Martino's recipe is cooked milk. I believe the icing recipe in the SOS cookbook has milk included in the ingredients and the icing is cooked. I assure you the cake portion of the Dad's Teacakes recipe is spot on with the flavor from the tea cakes I used to get at Fedco. I was shocked to find out the cakes are dipped in the icing to attain the smooth look. I use standard sized, round paper muffin tin liners. I think the Dad's tea cake recipe is the closest we are going to get at this point. It is a wonderful recipe that I have made many times in the last couple of months. I have not met anyone here in Nevada who is acquainted with the unique and addicting taste of these tea cakes. I am grateful to the daughter of the founder of Grace's Pastries for posting the recipe. Her father George sounds like an amazing man.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2014 at 10:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
soupcon

great to discover this thread... i grew up on these tea cakes, which i remember getting at fosselman's ice cream of all places. the martino's people told me they had 50+ supply routes, so it seems likely you'd run into these things lots of places.

i am a frequent flier at martino's. my baker friend always thought the recipe had some kind of caramelized sweetened condensed milk in it. i'm unmotivated to try a recipe because i live close enough to the mother ship. i think they told me the recipe is partially owned by pillsbury, which is weird, but interesting.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2015 at 12:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

Thanks, soupcon. 'Ya know, I can visualize the caramelized sweetened milk being in the mix! There's that "elusive taste" that I can't put my finger on. I'll have to try that - thank you!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2015 at 2:19AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Robert Givens

arlinek: Anything new on this thread? Following with great interest.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2015 at 9:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

Sigh ... no, but I still have several variations to try, but damn life keeps getting in the way - lol. I'm a little excited about the above remark of the carm. sweet. condensed milk - I really think that's a good lead. Just have to devote some time to making again. Became a little discouraged over a year ago when several diff. attempts didn't capture what I was seeking! Keep tuned, same station.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2015 at 10:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
partst

Hi arlinek

I see your still on the quest of the tea cakes I gave up we just don’t eat many sweets anymore but sitting here I can still taste them in my memory. I haven’t been back to Burbank since granite shopping back in 2007 but will be going down soon. My father passed away last June and left several properties I need to deal with but our first stop will be Martino’s to get some tea cakes to see if they match my memory. I agree that caramelized sweetened condensed milk may be the elusive taste that’s missing. If we have time we may drive out to Northridge get some Cupids.

Claudia

    Bookmark   March 15, 2015 at 11:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arlinek

Oh, Claudia - Sorry about your Dad - you're going to be in our old stomping grounds! We lived less than 10 min. from Cupid's - loved them and still do. Boys have visited there on occasion and pop them in a cooler and have brought them to us in San Diego! Hah!! When we (seldom) re-visit L.A., we make a round of prob. 100 miles to stock up on all our old favorites (Brent's Deli in Northridge, Porto's, for another, in Burbank - but they have one now in Orange Co., too).

    Bookmark   March 15, 2015 at 12:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
partst

Thank you arlinek dad was 93 I always teased him about having been retired longer than he had worked. We plan to visit several places in the Valley it will probably be the last time there. Life has another adventure for us. DD and SIL are moving their business out of Ca to Lake Havasu City. DGS just bought a house there also so it looks like we will be looking to buy or build something there soon. GGS number 2 is on the way and we want to be close enough to see all our kids more often than we do now. We had a home at the river before so it will kinda like going home but without the flat bottom and at my age I’m sure I don’t want to start waterskiing again but it will be fun to watch the GG kids learn.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2015 at 1:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
shirl36

I have followed this post since Arelink 06-09-08 OP. It has intrigued me. Last fall I made the recipe msmmrox27 posted on April 13 2013. My family really liked them. They are not overly sweet which I liked and they do freeze well. Baked in the square muffin pan.

Having lived in the midwest all my life I have no idea what the original Tea Cakes tasted like....but if you are looking for something new you might give this recipe a try.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2015 at 7:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Annie Deighnaugh

I've made this cinnamon teacake...it's good and not very sweet.

From Food Timeline

"Cinnamon (Woodbury Cake)
...a Madison tea would often include Cinnamon Cake...
Butter
Sugar
Flour
Baking powder
Cinnamon
Milk
Cream 2 tablespoons butter with 1 cup sugar. Add 2 cups sifted flour mixed with 1 teaspoon baking powder and 2 tablespoons cinnamon. Add milk and beat together thoroughly. Bake in a large pan at 350 degrees F. 20 to 30 minutes, or until done."
---Presidents' Cookbook (p. 91)

    Bookmark   March 17, 2015 at 10:39AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Canning tomato juice worth it?
Hi All - I'm thinking about canning tomato juice this...
jennieboyer
How Do You Cook Brown Rice?
Having just turned 52, it is no longer possible to...
johnliu_gw
Awesome Shortbread with Caramel and Dark Chocolate
I have picked up so many great recipes from this forum...
dancingqueengw
So what is "a bunch"?
It drives me crazy when recipes call for a bunch of...
laceyvail
Apologies to St. Patrick
Not even the corned beef was done the traditional way....
dcarch7
Sponsored Products
LED Nebbia Amber Tech Track Pendant for Lightolier Track Systems
Euro Style Lighting
Undermount Bronze Sink
MR Direct Sinks and Faucets
Compass Rose Set Of 4 Iced Tea Glasses
Classic Hostess
Caspian Queen Bed
Overstock.com
Grey and Silver Ceramic Round Toilet Brush Holder
TheBathOutlet
Florence Knoll Style Loveseat-Black - 100% Italian Leather
IFN Modern
Contemporary Indoor/Outdoor Braided Area Rug: Colonial Mills Rugs Olivera
Home Depot
Daring Orange Ovo Floor Lamp
Lamps Plus
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™