After World War II, my grandparents Wilbert and Elenora Western moved to California from Shreveport, Louisiana. With the help of the G.I. Bill, they bought a double lot in East Los Angeles before it became Watts 🙂 At that time the neighborhood was mixed with both whites and blacks, mostly veterans, with beautifully kept lawns and gardens. My grandparents lived in a large house facing the street and had a smaller house behind that was occupied by Lillie Belle Adams, a cousin/housekeeper/I don’t know exactly, who came with them from Shreveport. This is the house and time I knew, where I spent many vacations. 1459 East 50th Street. I wonder what it’s like now…..
Anyway, my grandmother made the best “down home” southern cuisine I’ve ever tasted and that’s the only kind she cooked; catfish, fried okra, battered tripe, chicken and noodles, greens with ham hock, fried pork chops, liver and onions, etc. The only cornbread I’ve ever liked was hers; thin, baked in a black skillet and not sweet like cake. She did make pies, cakes and desserts but when I was not visiting, all I thought about were her “tea cakes”.
Plain Janes but buttery, with hints of vanilla and lemon with a cake like texture. Not a cookie and not too sweet.
1/2 cup butter soft
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 cups of flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the eggs until blended. Stir in the extracts. Set aside. Sift the baking powder and salt with the flour, then stir into the butter mixture.
Form the dough into a ball, then knead 2 or 3 times. Roll out and cut into round shapes with a water glass or cookie cutter. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and bake the cakes at 325 F for 20 minutes.