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

Directions:

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.

Voilà!

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!

Mr. Grace Pastries

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29 Comments on “dad’s danish tea cakes”

  1. Robbie March 1, 2011 at 11:04 #

    Hey, Genelle!

    Thank you again for posting your dad’s wonderful Danish Tea Cakes recipe! I made a batch and everyone approved! I do think next time will be even better since I only had organic brown sugar on hand (I think maybe created a different texture to the muffin?). This past weekend we were in Phoenix (I live in the LA area) and happened to be in a Marshall’s and guess what I found! Too bad they only had one square muffin pan. I shall have to look closer to home for another one!

    And thank you to your dad for having baked so many delicious memories for so many people. That was so very nice, and unexpected, to receive a response for our birthday wishes to him! May he have many more happy and healthy birthdays!

    Take care!
    R.

    • me March 16, 2011 at 20:17 #

      I’m glad you found the cupcake tins! My dad was very tickled when I told him you had made the tea cakes. The next time I’m in LA, I’ll look for more recipes of his. Thanks for reading and the birthday wishes to my dad… he really enjoyed reading all the emails.

      ~genelle

  2. Robbie June 6, 2011 at 10:44 #

    Hi, Genelle!

    Well I made your dad’s wonderful tea cakes again! Times three! And this time I had the square muffin tins! To celebrate my friend’s birthday, I took 50 to our bowling league and also gave her a dozen for her family. LOL, and mmm, there were some left for us! Thanks again for sharing the recipe!

    My friend also grew up in the Crenshaw area. I remember the pretty tea sandwiches her mom would make for parties. She told me they would get the bread from your bakery tinted in pale pink and green. Ahh, the delicious memories of Grace Pastries!

    Have a great day! Send my good wishes to your dad!
    Robbie

  3. Jan August 8, 2011 at 15:36 #

    I remember your Dad’s location in Monterey Park, CA ….
    I loved those Danish tea cakes and many of the other
    wonderful desserts!
    Is Grace’s Bakery still in existance until someone else??
    Where?

  4. gloria kobayashi August 14, 2011 at 2:14 #

    I am so glad to have found your recipe. I plan to try it before summer is over. Have you seen the posts on chowhound about it? someone recently asked for the recipe. I have looked for other places that sell the square tea cakes and only found it for a short time at the old cafeteria at Harbor UCLA medical center before they remodeled it back in 1990. It was individually wrapped for retail sale but I don’t recall what company sold it.
    I bought square muffin tins at TJ Maxx Homegoods last year hoping someday I would find the recipe. I will be using it finally.
    My other favorite from Grace’s was the dream cake with the pink shavings.
    I am still in contact with many friends from Crenshaw, and we all have fond memories of Grace’s pastries. Thank you!
    Gloria

  5. S. Morimoto October 1, 2011 at 20:00 #

    Hi there Ms. Kobayashi. Thank you very much for sharing this recipe… My husband and I grew up in Monterey Park and he remembers eating these teacakes from a very young age. I’ve been looking on/off for years, and was so glad to find this. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Shinji Nakamoto October 9, 2011 at 19:06 #

    Thank you and your father for sharing this recipe. I grew up in the Crenshaw area and still have fond memories of my parents bringing home these cupcakes.

  7. Debby Gonzales November 10, 2011 at 8:47 #

    Thank you so much for the tea cake recipe. I made them for my family and they were great … brought back so many memories … especially for my husband, who grew up in the Crenshaw area; his mother loved Grace’s Pastries and there were always goodies in the house from there. One of our family favorites was the dobash cake. Any chance of you posting that recipe? That was always the anticipated dessert that our family expected Mom to bring at all the family gatherings …. and she never let us down. Would be fun to take a dobash cake to our next family function ….in honor of Grace’s Pastries and of Mom. Thanks again. Debby Gonzales

  8. edith ramirez December 4, 2011 at 18:23 #

    I just met your parents,I have to say it is one of the most memorable and educational days of my life,I always ,always found an occasion or excuse to
    stop at the Grace’s and never left without at least one tea cake,Yes I met them today again,forty years ago ,we were in each others lives ,but unaware that they contributed to my family’s most precious memories.I want to thank them not only for those occasions ,but also for opening my eyes to
    an issue regarding internment .I am the woman with the two granddaughters.
    Thanks again for everything they do and I am so priviliged to have spoken to them.

    PS Yes I did come home and Google them immediately. Edith Ramirez

    • gfork December 6, 2011 at 6:48 #

      Yes, my folks are pretty amazing! I still dream of my dad’s colorful birthday cakes, stealing warm chocolate chip cookies off the cooling rack at the at the main “plant” and his heavenly raised glazed doughnuts. I’m glad you have a chance to meet them!

  9. cressida roth June 10, 2012 at 12:28 #

    When I was a little girl my Dad would bring home a famous cake from Grace Pastries called a “lime cake”. It did not taste like lime; I think it may have had some mint in it. Nevertheless, we would keep it in the refrigerator. Any chance that I can get that recipe? My Dad died a few years ago, but my Mom is still living and would love it if I could make this blast from the past for her. Thanks
    Lynn

    • gfork February 18, 2013 at 10:55 #

      Thanks for your comments! I’m sure my dad still has the recipe somewhere, though it would be for baking up large quantities of cakes. One of these days I plan on tackling all his recipes and breaking them down. Will keep you posted!

      • Luz-Maria April 1, 2013 at 9:45 #

        I encourage you to write a book and publish the recipes …please add photos (and even ask people to submit photos for you)…..it would tug at many’s heartstrings. I lived in Gardena until the age of 5, ended up becoming a chef and I am pretty sure the banana cream pie had everything to do with it. Thank you and much love and respect to your father.

        • gfork October 15, 2013 at 20:01 #

          A belated thank you for the kind note! I’m sure my father would love to hear from you – you could write him at gimper222@aol.com. Tell him you read about him on his daughter’s blog. He’ll get a kick out of hearing from you, for sure!

  10. Linal September 15, 2012 at 22:03 #

    Growing up, my family always purchased my birthday cakes from the Grace Pastries in Culver City My first job at age 15, was at Grace Pastries Gardena. I learned so much and developed a love for baking and cake decorating that i still enjoy (Oh, to be able to make a Chocolae Banana or Dream Cake!)

    I have fond memories of being trusted to open and close on Sundays, being occasionally driven by Grayson in the company van to cover a shift at other locations when needed, and the annual company party! I still have a set of flatware I won during a raffle.

    My mother was so sad when the Gardena store closed and she could not buy tea cakes anymore. A few years ago, the Daily Breeze in Torrance published the recipe. I’m not sure if it is the same one as above, but I have made them many times (in square muffin pans). It is a special treat for Mom! I am so thankful for your family. Hope all is well.

  11. Vikki September 27, 2012 at 8:45 #

    Everyone is raving about the teacakes and they were very good but what I miss most is the decorated birthday cakes. The cake had the perfect texture and the buttercream icing was the best. Does anyone have a recipe for the cake and the icing or know a bakery in the LA area that is as good.

    • Lenora Barton May 14, 2013 at 19:34 #

      I still have a ceramic set of 4 Disney Characters that were on my Grace Pastries birthday cake from 1967. Best birthday cake EVER! =)

  12. rod February 1, 2013 at 21:10 #

    Hi, I remember your dad s face and place on Jefferson Blvd. I wish I could find someone that can imitate my favorite pastry of his, the chocolate Dobash Cake. No one comes close:(

    • gfork February 18, 2013 at 10:40 #

      thanks, Rod! I agree – no dobash cake comes close. I have the recipe but still need to break it down for home kitchen use. As soon as I do, I will surely post the recipe.

  13. Brittany March 15, 2013 at 7:47 #

    Hey do you know who currently owns he building? As a child I remember the way it smelled and I always wanted to bring it back to life. Please let me know, it’d help me fullfill my childhood dream.

    • gfork October 15, 2013 at 19:59 #

      Hi there. I don’t know who owns the building now. I’m not even sure it’s still a bakery. I will always remember whenever my father came home from work, he smelled like flour and sugar. Warm memories we have, for sure!

  14. April Pamplin July 14, 2013 at 17:39 #

    I grew up in Gardena and LOVED when my father would bring home dozens of the teacakes. We purchased all of our cakes from Grace’s Pastries. Sad to see it go. Many thanks to your father and family for a lifetime of awesomely sweet and delicious memories!!

  15. Jody Schwartz November 4, 2013 at 16:07 #

    Dear Genelle,
    I grew up in the Crenshaw area in the 60’s. Not a birthday went by without one of your dad’s amazing birthday cakes. I have thought about them ever since I moved out of the area many years ago. I have told my husband all about Grace’s and he even took me there once on a return trip to the area many, many years ago. I am turning 60 in January and will be celebrating in my favorite town, LA. I would give ANYTHING to know if there is a place where I can buy a birthday cake like Graces. Do you happen to know of anyone who could make the frosting like yours??
    Thank you for maintaining this blog. I will keep watching,
    Very truly yours,
    Jody Schwartz

    • gfork May 4, 2014 at 10:18 #

      Hi Jody, thank you for the note. I suspect that most “old school” bakeries still make a decent buttercream frosting. As you can imagine, since growing up with a baker dad, my family never had any other baked goods so I can’t attest to any other bakery’s cakes. I hope your birthday was fantastic and you found a good bakery for your cake!

      ~Genelle

  16. Ohiogirl February 27, 2014 at 15:25 #

    Thank you so much for sharing this treasure. I’m an “immigrant” to California (grew up in PA and Ohio) and one of the LA treats I love the most is a teacake!

    I’d like to make the recipe but, as you are so specific about taking out the tablespoon of egg – should I use large eggs? Extra large? Or medium? What was the norm when your Dad was baking?

    We’ve never met, but give your Dad a hug from me. Well made baked goods are such a comfort in life, to have a place to go where they would be dependable and affordable? He’s a hero : )

    • gfork May 4, 2014 at 10:15 #

      A belated thank you for the kind note! Personally, I use mostly large eggs when cooking. All of my dad’s original recipes were based on weight (for massive quantities). Also, when making the teacakes, make sure all of the ingredients are fresh so the cake will rise properly.

      Thanks again for the note and good luck!

      ~Genelle

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