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Classic English Tea Cakes Recipe

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The best part of afternoon tea is not tea, but the snacks! Tea time is not complete without a few tasty bites, sometimes savory, but more often than not sweet. 

This is the case with the classic English tea cakes — crumbly and slightly sweet butter cookies that are super traditional at any tea get-together, especially in the UK.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of pretty good store-bought English tea cakes but ask your grandma and see that they’re not what they used to. Today there’s nothing like making your own. 

Yes, you can make a pretty large batch of English tea cakes with only four ingredients in just thirty minutes.

classic english tea cakes recipe-2

Here's what you'll need.

For this recipe, we’re using butter, sugar, vanilla extract, all-purpose flour and milk. 

Every successful cookie or cake starts with a fluffy mixture of softened butter and sugar. You must mix these two critical ingredients first. 

Once you have a sweet buttery paste, you can flavor it, in this case, with vanilla extract. Then (and just then), can you add the flour slowly while mixing. A splash of milk keeps the crumbly dough moist.

Learn these steps by heart, and you’ll be making English tea cakes every weekend. The detailed recipe is below in case you need it.

What to Serve with English Tea Cakes?

The obvious answer is tea, more specifically black tea, and if it’s creamy, even better. 

What’s not so obvious is that these buttery cakes are deliciously compatible with creamy coffee-based drinks. Think cappuccino, latte or mocha. 

The best pairing is friends, though, because English tea cakes are the perfect partners for a good conversation, a few laughs and a pinch of gossip.

How to Make It

  • Prep Time20 min
  • Cook Time10 min
  • Total Time30 min
  • Serving Size15
  • Energy149 cal




Preheat the oven at 350°F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.


In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar and butter, cream until light and airy.


Add the vanilla extract, incorporate and slowly add the flour while stirring.


If the dough is too dry, add a splash of milk. You might not use all the milk.


When all the flour has been incorporated, you should end with a thick, sticky dough.


Scoop the dough with a spoon and form the cookies on the baking tray. Alternatively, you can use bake-safe cookie molds or muffin cups.


Bake for around 10 minutes or until golden and crackly.


Let the tea cakes cool on a cooling rack before serving.

  • Nutrition Facts

  • Serving Size15
  • Amount per serving
  • Calories149
  • % Daily Value*Standard DV
  • Total Fat9.5 g78 g12.18%
  • Saturated Fat5.9 g20 g29.5%
  • Cholesterol25 mg300 mg8.33%
  • Sodium69 mg2300 mg3%
  • Total Carbohydrate14.9 g275 g5.42%
  • Dietary Fiber0.3 g28 g1.07%
  • Total Sugars5.3 g
  • Protein1.6 g50 g3.2%
  • Calcium12 mg1300 mg0.92%
  • Iron1 mg18 mg5.56%
  • Potassium20 mg4700 mg0.43%
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