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A Brief History of Tea Cakes

Tea cakes can trace their origin back to Great Britain where “afternoon tea” is still a part of everyday life. Afternoon tea began in the 1840s as a tradition of having a tea in the afternoons as a way to stave off hunger until the dinner meal was served. Along with quality tea, “tea cakes" were served with all kinds of appetizers that included mini sandwiches and other pastries as well. 

Originally, tea cakes weren’t even cakes at all. They were, in fact, sweet buns with dried fruit, akin to a muffin. During British colonization, the tradition of afternoon tea carried on to more and more places where each culture changed the recipe to suit their needs. Therefore, tea cakes can be anything from actual cakes in countries such as India and Australia, to chocolate-coated marshmallows in Scotland, according to Wikipedia. 

In the States, tea cakes became part of the tradition from Britain that carried on. According to The Local Palate, these cakes are most associated with the people of the South. Most are off-white cookies that are soft when chewed. They can be somewhat plain if one is accustomed to different flavors and textures when promised a cake. 

Dating back to the nineteenth- and twentieth century, there are cookbooks that include their own spin and special ingredients for tea cake recipes, proving they have been in American cuisine for at least generations. Tea cakes were served for many gatherings and special occasions throughout history such as Prohibition, political gatherings, religious events such as baptisms, and even at funerals. As far back as October 25, 1774, an Edenton resident, Penelope Baker used tea cakes in her protest against the British Tea Act of 1773. While she served no tea, the cakes were used in the gathering to entertain the guests while they signed a petition in protest of the aforementioned act. Although this is of small significance to some, it was actually one of the earliest recorded organized political events by women, according to NorthCarolinaHistory.org. We are proud that tea cakes were part of this moment. 

Today, everyone has their own take on tea cakes that has come to encompass any bite-sized treat. Ours are packed with flavor because we add three layers of cake and two layers of butter cream. We don’t stop there. We also add layers of naturally flavored fillings, all topped with chocolate in our signature colors. Each cake is ornately decorated. Dragonfly Tea Cakes are little cakes to celebrate life's big moments.

 

 

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