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Tea Cake Recipe - not the cookies

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I am looking for a recipe for Tea cakes like from Martino's Bakery in Southern California - http://www.martinosbakery.com/index.html

They are rectangular shaped little cupcake type things, but are very, very moist and more airy than a regular cupcake.

I tried searching in old cookbooks, and found a recipe and tried it, but it came out very dense.


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  1. These tea cakes remind me of the ones I used to buy as a kid at Grace's Pastries on Jefferson and Crenshaw Blvd. in L.A. They were my favorite! Someone told me that a recipe was posted in a Japanese language paper. I will try to get that for us! Thanks for reminding me of one of my long ago favorites.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mochi mochi

      OMG you're right! They remind me of packaged Japanese sponge cake with a lemon glaze.

      1. re: mochi mochi

        Those tea cakes were my absolute favorites too!

        I went to check out Angel Maid Bakery (Culver City) when I heard they made tea cakes just like those at Grace's. But they're not (they didn't even have any glaze on top) so -- alas, my quest continues . . .

        If you can share the recipe, that be great! I'll just bake my own!

        1. re: Nermie

          I contacted the Rafu Shimpo last month and never got a reply. So I have to see if any of my buddies saw the recipe. I miss those tea cakes! I will be sure to post if I ever find it.

          1. re: mochi mochi

            Thanks for trying!! I'm keeping my fingers crossed!!!

      2. Is it like a sponge cake? In UK, we have songe cakes called fairy cakes cooked like cupcakes but you could use batter for any shape. Here is a link.

        www.ivillage.co.uk/food/experts/ coach/articles/0,,177274_673444,00.html - 49k -

        A tea cake to me is like a scone, full of currants and a bit lumpy.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Densible

          It is more like a sponge cake than a scone. Thanks for the link I will try this recipe

          Also, I now know what Paul Mccartney is referring to in his song where he says "Nanny bakes, fairy cakes on Sunday morning!"

          1. re: Densible

            Made these tonight. They are delicious! I haven't put any frosting on them yet, but I like them. They still don't have the flavor of the tea cakes, but they have a similar texture. I looked on the bakery's website and they call that tea cake flavor - buttermilk -- so I think next I will try a buttermilk cake recipe.

            This recipe will be my new yellow cupcake recipe! Thanks so much!

          2. I made the Buttermilk cupcakes from Epicurious - http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

            They came out very similar in texture to the tea cakes, but totally missed the flavor of them. I think the tea cakes are more moist

            The frosting recipes were nothing like the glaze on the tea cakes, and everyone preferred the lemon frosting over the chocolate. The frosting recipe also made way to much frosting.

            My search continues.

            1. OMG, I am looking for this recipe too! Did you ever find it?


              1 Reply
              1. re: debisusan

                Not yet. I found some that are close. I've got a couple recipes to try, I'm just waiting for it to be cool enough to bake!
                There is another person tryin to find a recipe for this as well.

                You can follow her progress here

              2. I found an old LA Times article that indicates that the elusive flavor is from cooked milk.

                "Not vanilla in flavor, nor like a white, spice or yellow cake, the glazed squares have an elusive flavor produced by cooking the milk used in the batter. That yields delicate caramel tones and makes the small, pale gold cakes irresistible and homey. "

                Sorry, no recipe. I gather it's a trade secret, so if you develop a 'copy' you may have something quite valuable.

                1. Hey anybody out there have this buttermilk tea cake recipe? Help, been looking for years for this elusive recipe. They used to be sold at Grace's pastry on Crenshaw Blvd. now closed.
                  Also at the old Fedco bakery on La Cienega...long gone. Now have to trek to Martino's in Burbank for fix.
                  Forget about Angel Maid, a poor imitation, but do try their fresh banana, whipped cream filled sponge cake sandwich. yum

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: auntie elli

                    STill working on it. I have several I want to test, now that its cooler I can. I made buttermilk cupcakes from either my Gourmet Cookbook or maybe Betty Crocker, and they were good, but not it.

                  2. Here's the link for the Grace pastries tea cakes. Just made them and they are delicious!

                    15 Replies
                    1. re: kterri

                      Since the Daily Breeze links can go dead pretty quickly, I am cutting and pasting the recipe here so we don't lose it again!


                      3 cups cake flour
                      3/4 teaspoon baking soda
                      3/4 teaspoon salt
                      1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
                      3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
                      1 cup oil
                      1 teaspoon vanilla
                      2 large eggs, slightly beaten
                      1 3/4 cups buttermilk, divided use

                      For the glaze:
                      6 tablespoons butter
                      1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
                      1 teaspoon vanilla
                      3 tablespoons boiling water

                      Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk or sift together flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

                      In another bowl, cream sugars and oil. Add vanilla.
                      Add 1/3 of the eggs to sugar mixture and mix. Repeat 2 times. Mix for 3 minutes. Add 1/2 of the buttermilk and mix. Add flour mixture and mix 3 minutes. Finally, add the remaining buttermilk and mix until smooth. Batter will be thin. Pour into cupcake tins.

                      Bake 20 minutes. Test with a clean toothpick to make sure cupcakes are done. Frost with a glaze.

                      To make the glaze, melt butter until golden. Add to confectioners' sugar, along with vanilla and water. Whisk until the texture is smooth and creamy. Dip cooled teacake tops into the glaze. Place on a rack and let them sit until the glaze hardens. If it is a humid day, refrigerate them in order to speed the process. Makes about 24.

                      1. re: mlgb

                        I haven't tried this yet, but I have also been scouring the Internet looking for a recipe for these tea cakes. I seem to recall that these were available in Asian neighborhoods, but that makes no sense because of the buttermilk. Has anyone else tried this recipe yet? Does it capture the flavor?

                        1. re: mrsdutoit

                          I happened to know the son of the owner of Grace's Pastries and he gifted us the recipe on Facebook. I loved the "tea cakes" from his dad's bakery. The owners of this particular bakery were 2nd generation Japanese Americans born to immigrant parents so the recipes were not brought from Japan, but created here in the U.S. hence the use of buttermilk. I have made the recipe and it's not exactly what I remember, but very delicious. Now if I can just get the dobash cake recipe, I would be set for life!

                          1. re: mochi mochi

                            This is the Danish Teacake I made from Grace's Pastries recipe.

                            1. re: mochi mochi

                              That looks pretty good. So is the recipe above the same recipe you have? I'm tempted to make some this weekend.

                              1. re: LisaN

                                Sorry, Lisa didn't see your post. I just checked the recipe I was gifted with and it's slightly different.

                                1. re: mochi mochi

                                  Mochi mochi, is it possible to share your recipe that was gifted? I too grew up in that area and miss the weekly treats during the Fedco shopping trips!

                                  1. re: jasonronee

                                    re: mochi mochi Did mochi mochi ever reply with the other recipe? Tried the Daily Breeze version. Seems like the Graces teacake not sure if something was missing.BTW they still carry the square muffin pans at Walmart for $9.97 I read that the round paper liners still work in the square pan. Now if I could just recapture my youth!

                                    1. re: jasonronee

                                      So sorry. I haven't connected with CH in awhile as you can see. I used to work at FEDCO in my high school and college days and miss it terribly. The daughter of George Izumi posted this recipe on her blog.
                                      DAD’S DANISH TEA CAKES

                                      Whenever I mention to folks who grew up in the Los Angeles area during the 50s, 60s or 70s, that my father owned Grace Pastries, tea cakes and dobash cakes inevitably enter the conversation. While I admit his multi-layer dobash cake was great, the tea cakes always had a special place in my heart. His original tea cake recipe for 70 DOZEN and called for 16 lbs of brown sugar and 24 lbs of buttermilk (just to name a few ingredients), proved a little too unwieldy not to mention, impractical for us home kitchen bakers. So without further ado, here is the tested, tried and true recipe for a more manageable number of Grace Pastries’ Danish Tea Cakes.

                                      Makes 24

                                      For the batter:

                                      1-1/4 cups brown sugar
                                      3/4 cup extra fine white sugar
                                      3/4 cup vegetable oil
                                      3/4 teaspoon salt
                                      1/2 teaspoon vanilla
                                      3 eggs (minus 1 tablespoon)
                                      1-1/2 cups buttermilk
                                      2-1/2 cups cake flour
                                      1/2 teaspoon baking soda
                                      For the icing:

                                      6 tablespoons butter
                                      1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
                                      1 teaspoon vanilla
                                      3 tablespoons hot water

                                      Preheat oven to 375°.

                                      Cream together the brown sugar, white sugar, vegetable oil, salt and vanilla. Add the eggs in three parts. Cream slowly for six minutes, continually scraping down the sides. Add 3/4 cup of the buttermilk, cake flour and baking soda until smooth. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of buttermilk.

                                      Line the muffin cups with paper liners. Fill cups 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out on cooling racks. Repeat with any remaining batter. Let cool completely before topping with the icing.

                                      Heat the butter slowly and cook until until golden brown.

                                      In a separate bowl, mix confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and hot water together. Add the melted butter. Whisk until smooth.

                                      While the icing mixture is still warm but the cakes are cooled, dip the tops of the cakes into the icing mix and cool again, careful not to layer the icing on too thickly.


                                      Dad baked his tea cakes in restaurant grade square muffin tins using regular, round cupcake liners. Some specialty cookware stores may have the square tins, and you can also find them online but I found mine at, of all places, Marshall’s in the kitchen section. Enjoy!

                                      1. re: mochi mochi

                                        AWESOME! Will have to try these!

                                        1. re: LisaN

                                          (Hi Lisa!). Thanks Mochi; I made these last night and they are very good and very close to the Martino's recipe I am searching for. Main difference is that the cake texture is softer and has smaller holes than the Martino's. I'm wondering if using all purpose flour would make that difference of a rougher texture I'd prefer? Also, they were a little bit drier & less oily, perhaps, than the Martino's. Also wondering if adding a bit more oil or butter would compensate for that. But, again, the taste was 95%!!! BTW, I halved the recipe to make 12 instead of 24 and it came out perfectly! Thank you. arline

                                          1. re: arlinek

                                            Hi Arline- You might be on the right track with the flour. I haven't had a Grace Pastries teacake in... a lot of years but have had Martino's and you are right, they are oilier ( is that a word?) more oily? Anyways, I would try giving it an extra splash of oil. I think with a little tweaking, you can get it perfect. Good luck!

                          2. re: kterri

                            Cool! As soon as the weather cools down, I'll have to try it out!

                            1. re: kterri

                              Thanks soooo much! I need to diet, but I have thought about these teacakes since I was a kid. I grew up in L.A. and remember three pastries from George Izumi (who, I believe, named Grace Pastries after his wife!)...the individual strawberry tarts, the teacakes and those awesome cocoa macaroons---have not found recipes for the latter two. I am anxious to try this recipe...this recipe was one of my favorite things to eat as a kid---the square shape, the soft, moist cake and the maple flavor....thought the frosting was maple, too, but it was a very loooooong time ago!!

                              1. re: jadeitelady

                                almost forgot about that ?seven-layered dobash cake, too!!! it was also incredible. I now live in Hawaii and they sell dobash cakes...not as good as George's, though!!!

                            2. Hi Lisa - any luck? I have been looking for this recipe for yearsssssss! And eating the tea cakes for about 35 years!! THE BEST!!!!! I SO WANT TO make these at home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If I come across anything I will let you know too...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Rainy7

                                Not yet, I still have to try the recipe posted above, jsut with the holidays I haven't had time. I'll keep ya posted, maybe I can try this weekend.

                              2. Ok, just finished glazing them using the recipe below. Its pretty close, thought not EXACTLY the same. the flavor is there, the Martino's ones are moister (actually oilier would be a better description)

                                Later I'll take them to a friend who is a better teacake expert than I and I'll let you know what she says

                                I think this is about as close as we can come!

                                I'll attach pictures so you can see.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: LisaN

                                  Just got back from dropping some off to my friend. She said the cake is right on, has the same flavor, the glaze not so much, its close, but not there.

                                  1. re: LisaN

                                    Hi Lisa & thanks for the update at my email!! Your pics look exactly like the right texture; I'm excited to try. The recipe is rather close to one of mine I had that I was disappointed with but I'm def. going to try this asap. I will keep you posted!! ... arline

                                  2. re: LisaN

                                    Lisa, I don't see the recipe here. Was it deleted? I've also been on a quest for the Martino's recipe. I used to live near Burbank and bought them often when I had to take a dessert somewhere. But we moved to SC 5 years ago, and I've been craving them! Would you mind emailing me your latest recipe? glrdad@comporium.net Thanks so much!

                                    1. re: CherylR

                                      the recipe is above, but I emailed it to you, that way I've got a copy archives as well.

                                  3. Hi All, I've been searching for Martino tea cake recipe also. I made Grace's tea cakes over the weekend and have to say I love them just as much as Martino's if not better. I even found a square cup cake pan at Wal-Mart for $10. I did find the cake part to be a little more dense than the Martino's but I kind of liked it better. I also find Martino's to be a little on the greasy side. These were nice and light without the greasiness. GREAT recipe!

                                    1. Hey Lisa, I'm a college student at UF and have been roaming the internet looking for teacake recipe hunters for a good 2-3 years now. I'm a big baker and would love to send emails back and forth about perfecting a copy cat teacake! What is your current status on the recipe? Still working on the glaze? I still have to try out the Grace's recipe. You said thats the one that seemed to get the closest cake? Email me at seesemichaelj[at]gmail[dot]com and we'll figure this out! Thanks :]

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: seesemichaelj

                                        I'm so glad to see people still working on this! There is nothing like a Martino's Tea Cake - and it is very difficult to describe to someone. It has a taste like nothing else I have ever had. I have to take a trip there soon!! Good luck everyone, I'm hoping someone will come up with a close recipe!

                                        1. re: Rainy7

                                          I too have been craving the Grace's Tea Cakes since I moved back to New Orleans. I remember the tea cakes from Grace's having a light lemon flavor. Does anyone else agree with this?

                                          1. re: thecreolelady

                                            I have been searching for this recipe for a long time as I purchased mine from Fedco (boy do I miss Fedco). Anyway, it's been so long but I thought I remember them having a light lemon flavor too. I will try the recipe and hope that they come real close to the ones that I Fedco sold. I be sure to update everyone on the recipe as soon as I make them.

                                            1. re: gt000

                                              Hi gt000,
                                              Yes, please let us know if you can figure out something. I have not made the recipe yet. Martino's Bakery sells those exact tea cakes from Fedco if you ever want to get some - I used to get them at Fedco also. RIP Fedco. I wouldn't say the flavor is lemon, that's the problem, it's hard to tell WHAT the flavor is, it is so unique! Good luck!!

                                      2. Listen people, look no further, from my original post in 2008, I've made "Grace's" tea cake recipe and the one from the South Bay News. They are soooo close in ingredients and results. Just go ahead and make the posted "Grace's" recipe and you won't have to trek to Martino's ever again, unless you like a moister, more oily cupcake. It is also worth it to search out a square cupcake pan, it completes the childhood memory. And no, there was never a lemony glaze ever. Just be sure to brown the butter for the glaze. Bring these to your next potluck and Wow the crowd.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. i just made amish friendship bread and it tastes just like these, but without the frosting!
                                          i got the recipe from a blog called gracious rain

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: pruterodactyl

                                            Just went to Martino's and a agree these are great. Does anyone think there might be some maple syrup in the cake or glaze?

                                            1. re: Dylan

                                              no, just brown the butter...do not burn!

                                              1. re: Dylan

                                                I think, Auntie Elli, that Dylan is referring to the source of the sweetness. Personally, I think both the cake and the glaze contains brown sugar - not THAT far off from the taste of maple syrup. Read the entire column here, Dylan, for a couple recipes that might work for you. I still haven't found "the" recipe yet. This column was started seven years ago!

                                                1. re: arlinek

                                                  I guess you still have not made these gems. Oh well, I'll give you a heads up...Ralphs markets, the ones with the serve yourself pastry kiosks have these square "Tea Cakes" They usually run out by the end of the day, hope you can enjoy before they're gone!

                                            2. Listen to me Lisa. Just make the cupcakes from the easy recipe here in Chow. They are simple to make and taste better than Martino's or United Bakery (the two original bakeries that still bake them.
                                              Forget about comments regarding brown sugar or maple syrup. Just bake em and find out.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: auntie elli

                                                I have made them (Grace's) and just didn't think they were quite there - not if one is really trying to "duplicate" the Martino's version. I'd call them a "close" 2nd.

                                                1. re: arlinek

                                                  Interesting. I guess you prefer the oily version (Martino's).
                                                  Been baking for about 50 years and have always adjusted recipes for pumpkin bread, mango bread, carrot cake etc. to be less oily than the original recipes. Feedback from family and friends give a thumbs up to a less oil dense product.

                                                  1. re: auntie elli

                                                    Well, as stated, my objective is to replicate as close as possible the Martino's version. I'm not interested in modifying them as I love them just the way are! If you call them "oily" - so be it. I call them moist and with a unique texture. That's what this whole discussion is about - replicating them just as they are!

                                                    1. re: arlinek

                                                      You're right! I'm one of those who grew up noshing on Grace's Pastry tea cakes from the 60's. To me and many baby boomers, they were the standard. As a baker though, I try to keep up with the times and love to "tweek" recipes toward a less sweet, healthier product while staying true to the original taste.