Granny’s Sugar Cookies aka Tea Cakes

We all have them. Treasured recipes! They’ve probably been hanging around since we married…or shortly thereafter. Mine are tattered, splotched, torn, stained and marked with notations. I panic if I can’t find mine right away as in my blood runs cold while I frantically try to remember if I have one on the hard drive and if I do, how did I save it?  I know I have backups.  But just where??!!!!

And then I turn one more page and there it is!  Hallelujah!! I am saved with that page turn.  Whew!

What is it, you may ask, that is SO important that can put me in such a state?  Easy answer…Granny’s Sugar Cookie recipe!!

Before I married Big Boss, I had heard tales of her sugar cookies.  I was not impressed.  My mother’s sugar cookies were fantastic…light, crisp, sugary..the melt-in-your-mouth kind of cookie.  How could anyone else’s sugar cookie rival her’s?!

Dubiously, I took the offered cookie from my future mother-in-law.  I sniffed, for one must always smell before devouring.  I checked the bottom of the little round wonder…almost no browning. Check.  I broke the cookie in half as that is the only way to eat a sugar cookie.

Wait. The cookie came apart slowly…with very few crumbs.  That was weird.  It. Was. Soft. Cookies were supposed to  snap, crackle and pop with tiny crumbs going everywhere.  But not this cookie.  It was soft. It was poofy.  It was almost like a tiny little cake.  Ding. Ding. Ding.  TEACAKE!!!  Yessss! That perfectly described her cookie! It melted in my mouth. Then another one melted. And another..well, they were almost impossible to stop eating I tell you!

So I quickly asked for the recipe, took it home to Texas and made a batch.  My dad’s eyes sparkled when he took his first bite.  “Teacake!”, he pronounced, for his word was the final word in All Things of the Culinary Kind. “Just like my mom’s!”, he added.  My mother was curious.  Why would you make a soft cookie? On purpose. And how did she make them soft?

Ahhhh, I had the answers. It was the first time I had a leg up on my mom.  Sweetly I chirped, “Here, I’ll show you.”

And thus began the Great Romance of the Sugar Cookie in my family.  The fame of the cookie spread to my brother-in-law’s house and to his girls.  Church members anticipated Granny’s sugar cookies each time we had a church gathering. (I, however, never made the cookies for those occasions as this was Granny’s Territory! One must know the boundaries of family love and limits. 🙂

One day, about six months after we lost Granny, I found her recipe box.  This was a National Treasure to my way of thinking!  I found recipes that I had never heard of or tasted so that meant Granny wasn’t crazy about them.  Then I found actual recipes that I had given her from my stash!  Wonder of wonders.  But I came to a screeching halt when I found THE recipe…”Mama’s Sour Cream Sugar Cookies” !!!!!!!!  Seriously? Yep.  It was the same exact recipe that Granny had given me years before.  Who knew?!!! She was using her mother’s recipe!

My guess is that it was not only “Mama’s” but her mother’s and her mother’s…yeah, a bona-fide family treasure!

I’m pretty sure that when the original recipe called for “sour cream”, it was the kind that comes straight from the cow…you know, the clabbered kind.  As opposed to the store-bought-in-a-plastic-carton kind.  But it works to this day.

Our three boys grew up on these cookies.  Two out of three insist on a glass of milk alongside the delicacy. For dunking.  (The middle boy wasn’t that crazy about sweets!  Go figure.) As they were taught by Big Boss. He also wants cake with no icing but lots of cold milk poured on top of said cake.  No comment.

I didn’t get any sugar cookies made this past Christmas.  I  plan to redeem myself on Valentine’s Day.  Which is tomorrow.  Which means…I’m behind!

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies aka Granny’s Cookies

1 cup sour cream

1 cup shortening (Lately, I’ve been using the pre-measured butter flavor shortening.)

2 large eggs

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla (You could also use orange or lemon flavoing.)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

5 1/2-6 cups all-purpose flour

NOTE: Do NOT double this unless you have a huge, professional mixer!!  One recipe at a time even in 6 quart models. Ask me how I know this….


Free tip: line up all of the ingredients and as you add them to the mixing bowl, push them back up against the wall. That way you’ll know beyond a shadow of doubt that you DID put the salt in?!! This is an important for us…mature ladies. Just sayin’.

Cream the shortening and sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs, vanilla and sour cream and mix till blended. Add the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda 1 cup at a time and blend in well.


Tip #2: got this idea from The Aunt. If you have a deep drawer located near your mixing station load it with staples in sturdy storage bins. I keep my brown sugar, all-purpose flour, sugar and self-rising flour in mine along with plastic 1 cup measure and biscuit cutters. Also a large sack of pancake mix..that goes into the fridge during the summer months.


One half of the dough is piled onto plastic wrap. After I seal it, I mold it into a ball.

Roll into a large ball and cover with plastic wrap to refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  This also freezes well at this point. Note: I usually divide my dough up at this point so it will cool faster.  The refrigerator freezer cools them down even faster!!!


Dough, ready for the fridge.

Cut into half and roll out on a well floured surface…in my case, on bread board! When dough is about 1/4 to or a little thicker, cut with cookie cutters and place on shiny cookie sheet that has been sprayed with baking spray or rubbed w/shortening.

Bake at 375° for 6-8 mins.  This is where the softness of the cookie comes in.  Over-baking them will create a crunchy cookie.  Finding the exact timing will be your experiment.  Mine usually take around 6 1/2 mins. in my convection oven.  The regular ovens take about 7 mins. You will find your perfect timing!

When they’re done, take them out of the oven and let them cool for 5 mins or so.  Then gently lift them with a spatula and set on a wire rack to cool.

As soon as they have cooled down, put the cookies that you havent eaten yet 🙂 in an airtight container/bag.

The decorating is up to you!!!

Now I must away to the spa!   You can hate me now.  🙂

More cookie adventures coming up…

This entry was posted in Recipes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s