WOW Your Mom by Making These Delicious Vanilla Tea Cakes from Pete's Sweets!

Image Courtesy of Pete's Sweets

Image Courtesy of Pete's Sweets

We’re so excited to share a delicious recipe made by our wonderful friend Peter Gray of Pete’s Sweets! These tea cakes so so light and yummy and are sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Tea Cake Ingredients:                                                         

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ cups pure cane sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 ¼ cups cake flour
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 2½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Image Courtesy of Pete's Sweets

Image Courtesy of Pete's Sweets

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9 X 13 cake pan with parchment paper, making sure the paper hangs over the sides of the pan. Grease and flour the parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure all the ingredients are well combined.
  4. Place the cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  5. Combine the milk and vanilla in a measuring cup. Alternate adding the milk/vanilla mixture and the dry mixture to the whipped butter/sugar mixture. Beat on medium speed for 1½ minutes, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, add the remaining milk mixture, and beat for another 30 seconds.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Bake 30-35 minutes or until the cake is golden over the entire surface and a toothpick comes out free of batter or crumbs when inserted into cakes center.
  7. Cool cake completely before assembling tea cakes.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream


Image Courtesy of Pete's Sweets

Image Courtesy of Pete's Sweets

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with an electric hand mixer), beat the butter at medium speed for 2-3 minutes, or until pale in color and fluffy.
  2. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter.
  3. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time. Optionally, you can add in a few drops of natural food coloring.

Assembling The Cakes:

  1. Once the cakes are completely cool use a serrated knife to carefully slice the cake lengthwise, to create 2 thinner cake layers.
  2. Using a 1 ½-2 inch round cookie cutter, punch out small cake disks. (Cut the disks out as close as possible, to maximize yield)
  3. Load the buttercream icing into a piping bag fitted with a star piping tip, or use a gallon size zip top bag with one corner snipped to pipe a small dollop of icing onto the top of one single cake disk, sandwich another cake disk atop the iced cake and repeat this process to create a small stack (3-4 layers of cake per individual Tea Cake).
  4. Top with icing and decorate with flowers, fresh fruit, or powdered sugar.

How to Choose a Wedding Cake with Peter Gray

So many decisions need to be made while planning your wedding but few of those decisions are as fun and delicious as choosing the cake for your big day! A meeting that requires you to eat cake and frosting? Yes, please! Before you start running to your local baker, we wanted to take some time to talk all things cake, design and planning with Peter Gray of Pete's Sweets

PI: Pete! Thank you so much for sitting down with us today! We have been privileged to see you create in-person and you are truly confectionery genius! Where do you get your inspiration?

PGWhat we feel makes weddings special are the little details that tie back to the couple, so adding things like hidden interests (like superheros, sports teams, or hobbies) onto the back of the cake. This is a great way to add a personal touch without having to make a special groom's cake. As far as other items of inspiration, here at Pete's Sweets we draw inspiration from every detail of your wedding from lace on wedding dresses to custom scroll-work on invitations. It is wise to bring as many inspiration photos to help your bakery get a real feel for what you are looking for. While you know your wedding very well the bakery can only play off what they are given.  

PI: A common frustration that we hear from our audience is that they fall in love with an inspiration cake but when they finally sit down with their baker they realize that it doesn't fit their budget. Do you have any tips or suggestions on how to stay on budget but still capture the style they want?

PGNothing is more frustrating than falling in love with a cake and being crushed when it is priced out. Now being a wedding cake bakery, we have had our fair share of having to break the bad news to customers, however we suggest that you try to keep an open mind and not get hung up on super fine details or one particular cake (exactly as it is in the photo). Sometimes simply changing a few elements like reducing the amount of rolled fondant icing, sugar flowers, and edible ribbons can slash cake prices by the hundreds. Sometimes offering to provide items like fresh flowers, burlap or satin ribbons, or cake toppers can drastically reduce the cake's overall cost. 

PI: What are your favorite cake trends from 2016? Any predictions for what might trend in 2017?

PGPete's Sweets favorite in 2016 was textured cakes, 2/3 of our wedding cakes were some sort of texture (anything from a pedal texture to a drag texture). We loved the rustic yet elegant look that it achieved {and without any added costs}. As far as foreseeing trends for 2017, we have been getting a lot of interest in "Drip Cakes", meaning a ganache or caramel sauce being dripped over the edges. Another 2017 prediction is "Metallic," meaning gold, silver, or rose gold accents like toppers or ornate cake stands are on the upraise. And lastly, we have been getting a lot of requests for "Dessert Tables," meaning small cutting cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pastries, and candies are on 2017 brides mind to replace the classic wedding cake.


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About Peter 

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Peter Gray is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute, he went on TLC's Next Great Baker (hosted by Buddy Valastro AKA: The Cake Boss) where he competed against 12 other incredible bakers. After being on the show he was offered an opportunity of a lifetime to open Pete's Sweets in East Longmeadow, where we have grown time and time again. We have a full time staff that bakes all the classic home-style treats you remember from your childhood. We now host classes and birthday parties so we can pass along the art of baking.