Adapted from American Cookie by Anne Byrn. Reprinted with permission from Rodale/Penguin Random House, 2018.
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, vegetable shortening, or lard (or a combination), melted
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3¼ cups flour, plus 1 cup more for forming cakes
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, optional
4 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and position a rack in the center.
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and melted butter. Using an electric mixer or wooden spoon, mix until well-incorporated. Add eggs and vanilla and mix to combine. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, then add milk. Stir or beat with electric mixer until mixture comes together and is smooth. Set aside.
Place extra 1 cup flour on a clean work surface and scatter it loosely with your fingers. With a 1-inch scoop or spoon, scoop balls of batter into flour and toss them with your fingers to lightly coat.
Transfer to an ungreased baking pan, pressing down slightly to form a circle. Place about 8 circles on each pan, allowing plenty of room to spread as they bake. Bake until edges are light brown but tops are still pale, about 7 to 9 minutes.
Transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. Store tea cakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.