Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Read // Eat: Teacakes from 'To Kill A Mockingbird'

This is one of many Read // Eat posts in which we find recipes from our favorite books and then stuff our faces forthwith.  These posts come to us via the lovely Alicia of Jaybird fame.  Her blog covers travel, food, creativity, self-love, and lots of other wonderful things.  Pop over and check it out!  Or follow along on Pinterest and Twitter!

I don’t think I’d pass for a lady in the 1930s South, not by any stretch of the word. But a modern lady? I’d claim that title in a flash. I can throw a budget dinner party with the best of ‘em, whip up spicy pickles that’ll make your eyes water and comfort a crying baby on my hip...all with a pinch of sass and the occasional leggings-as-pants.

The ladies in To Kill a Mockingbird, on the other hand, are prim and proper as you please. They show up for tea with Scout Finch’s Aunt Alexandra as put together as you can be in the southern humidity, sweet and coiffed and ready with a “bless your heart.”

"Ladies bathed before noon, after their three o'clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum."

While Aunt Alexandra invites the ladies over for a missionary tea, I’d rather have friends over for a modern day tea party. Whether you like your tea sweet, hot, or iced, you’d be invited to join us for an afternoon of belly laughs, rehashing the latest Scandal episode and thrift store recommendations.

Though it’s been many decades since Harper Lee’s novel, a plate of teacakes remains a dainty treat for a sweet afternoon with friends. These small cookies are baked, then rolled in powdered sugar while still warm. The sugar starts to melt, like a snowflake landing on your bare palm, and turns into a velvety coating.

Teacakes are all butter and sweetness and fine sugar, beginning to crumble at the very first bite. Pair them with mugs of hot black tea and tart lemon wedges, deep dark secrets and Valentine’s Day wishes, and you’ve got yourself a tea party for the modern lady.

Teacakes from To Kill a Mockingbird - makes 3 dozen cookies
1 cup butter at room temperature
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup finely chopped walnuts or macadamia nuts
¼ teaspoon salt
about 2 cups powdered sugar for rolling teacakes

Preheat oven to 400ºF. In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat butter, ½ cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Mix in flour, nuts and salt.

Mix dough until it begins to slightly clump together. Use your hands to shape dough into balls about 1” in diameter. Place them one inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes until set but not brown. If you pick a hot one up, the bottom will be slightly golden. Remove from cookie sheet and cool for about 5 minutes on wire rack until warm, but safe to handle.

Roll each cookie in powdered sugar and place on wire rack. After all cookies have been coated once, roll in powdered sugar again.

Recipe source: Betty Crocker

What would you serve at your modern ladies tea party? Which classic literary recipe should we try next?


  1. Killer last para, VB.

  2. Now I have to read the book... ;-)

  3. I am TOTES making these. I haven't read To Kill A Mockingbird in years. I remember it being really, really sad but a fantastic novel.

    1. That would be a great one-sentence summary. It's worth a re-read!