By Southfacin’ Cook Patsy Brumfield


Every region has its historic recipes, but we Southerners boast of some pretty good stuff coming out of our kitchens. Many of us are fortunate to have great recipes handed down across generations. One of them is Aunt Tonnie’s Tea Cakes – the most delicious sugar cookies (with sour cream) ever. The recipe makes a ton, so be prepared to spend an afternoon in the kitchen. I don’t like to bake multiple sheets at a time because it gets too crazy getting them quickly onto cooling racks. A Santa favorite, for sure! Enjoy.





EQUIPMENT – 2-3 baking sheets, parchment paper, metal spatula, mixer, 2 mixing bowls, large cereal bowl, measuring equipment, whisk, rubber spatula, large cooling rack.


3 cups granulated suga

1 ¼ cups unsalted butter (2 ½ sticks)

1 cup sour cream

5 eggs, beaten

2 Tablespoons vanilla

4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon salt

Heat oven 325. Cover each baking sheets with parchment paper.

In mixer, thoroughly cream butter and sugar. In cereal bowl, beat eggs then beat in sour cream. Add egg-cream mixture to butter-sugar in mixer. Combine well, add vanilla.




While butter and sugar are creaming, in separate bowl sift flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. If you don’t have a sifter, just whisk it thoroughly to make sure everything’s well distributed and you’ve put some air into the mixture. Slowly (1/3 at a time) add it to your wet ingredients in the mixer. Combine well, but don’t overdo it.

Use 2 teaspoons to drop about ½ teaspoon of dough onto baking sheets per cookie. Leave about 2 inches between. Bake about 15 minutes watching closely to remove when you see golden edges and tops. Don’t be too anxious to take them out – let them get golden. Using a stiff spatula, quickly remove each cookie onto the cooling rack. As for your real cooking time, try your first batch and adjust if necessary.



4.just before

Between batches, keep the dough in the refrigerator. When one batch has been in the oven about 5 minutes, drop another dozen or so to get ready for the oven. When you’ve finished removing baked cookies to the rack, you’ve given the oven a quick recovery, so go ahead with the filled baking sheet.

5.tea cookies_edited-1


These cookies keep great in the freezer, which is where my Aunt Tonnie kept them in tins when we came visiting her River Road home in Greenwood, MS every summer. (Aunt Tonnie was really Mrs. Katie Walt Scales, who was sort of adopted by my grandmother as her aunt because they had mutual friends. I met many a cute guitar-playing guy during those idyllic 1960s summers. Only the cookies remain, but I think perhaps they were the better outcome.)





One thought on “DON’T FORGET ABOUT SANTA! Southfacin’ Cook Patsy Brumfield

  1. Yancey Tallent

    What a great article. I love how you incorporated your life with the recipe. It was reminiscent to me also when you spoke of the guitar playing guys you met during those idyllic summer days . Greenwood Mississippi, River Road, and a name like Aunt Tonnie drew me into your story like it was my own. Thank you so much for your article. I look forward to another – and to making those sour cream sugar cookies.
    Yancey Tallent

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