Southern tea cakes made from scratch taste so much fresher than store bought. For those who have never had the pleasure of eating one, it's a blend of a pound cake and shortbread. These cakes are relatively easy to make from common ingredients found in most Southern kitchens. Not overly sweet, yet sweet enough. However, to make them extra sweet, serve them with jams and preserves. Southern tea cakes are traditionally served during afternoon tea.

Proper Tea Service

Southern Tea Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of butter, 2 sticks
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup of buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 5 to 6 cups of all-purpose flour (unbleached if available)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda


  1. Turn on the oven to preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and oil lightly.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter together with an electric mixer until creamy.
  4. Beat in the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla extract until blended.
  5. Combine 2 cups of the flour, the nutmeg, baking powder and baking soda together in another bowl. Mix.
  6. Stir the flour mixture into the creamed ingredients. Blend well.
  7. Add 2 more cups of flour and stir until combined.
  8. Keep adding and stirring in flour until the dough becomes firm, but not stiff.
  9. Place the dough onto the lightly oiled parchment paper.
  10. Pat it out evenly along the baking sheet.
  11. Coat a sharp knife with some flour and cut the dough into 20 rectangles to perforate the cakes. This makes separating the cakes easier after it's baked.
  12. Bake the Southern tea cakes at 25 to 30 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned. Avoid completely browning the tea cakes.
  13. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the tea cakes to cool inside the pan.
  14. Once completely cooled, cut at the perforations and arrange on a platter or basket for serving.

For best results do not use margarine. For shortbread and pound cake type recipes it is always best to use real, unsalted butter. The success of the Southern tea cake recipe can depend on using real butter verses margarine. It is also best to use pure vanilla extract and fresh grated nutmeg, but isn't necessary. Avoid over working the dough once it's mix, this can cause the cakes to be tough. When making Southern tea cakes from scratch, avoid over cooking as they will not be quite as delicious.