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Edenton Tea Party Cakes


¾ cup unsalted butter, vegetable shortening, or lard

2 cups dark brown sugar, lightly packed

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon warm water

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or grated lemon zest

3¾ cups flour, plus more for rolling out cakes


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and position a rack in the center. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  2. Dissolve baking soda in warm water, then spoon into butter mixture. Add salt and vanilla or zest; mix until incorporated.
  3. While beating on low speed, slowly add flour just until mixture comes together into a stiff dough. (You may not use all the flour.)
  4. Sprinkle flour onto a clean work surface and turn out dough. Roll dough to ¼-inch thickness, cut into 2-inch circles, and place on ungreased baking pans.
  5. Bake until cookies are lightly browned around the edges and still a little soft in the center, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove cakes immediately from pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
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