Grandma’s Apple Tarts and Tea Cakes

When I think of Grandma, I can’t help but think of apple tarts, tea cakes and hoe cakes.  You can find the hoe cake recipe here.

Grandma made the best ever apple tarts and I finally found her recipe. These taste just like the apple tarts grandma used to make. Click the photo for the recipe OR save for later.

Grandma Elrod is my mom’s mother.  She passed away when I was 18.  It was my first experience of losing someone that I dearly loved and it was difficult to say goodbye. I’m so glad that I have so many fond memories to look back on and draw upon and that I will see her again one day!

Grandma suffered a stroke when I was just a wee toddler.  Medical Science has come a long way in treating stroke victims since those days.  But grandma was bedridden throughout my entire childhood and right up until she passed away. I do remember her being in a wheelchair a few times during the early days.  Looking back, I never heard her complain or gripe about not being able to walk.  And that’s the only way I had ever really known her, so it was natural to me.

Before the stroke, Grandma’s favorite hobby was fishing.  Afterward the stroke, she was a huge Atlanta Braves fan.  Before they were televised, she would listen in on the radio and keep score.  Every time any of us went to the game, we would always buy her a program. Because she was their number one fan, the Macon Telegraph wrote an article about her love of the Braves and the game of baseball.  Because of that article, Phil Niekro sent her an autographed picture.  If you don’t know who Phil Niekro is, find out all about him here!

Out of necessity, grandma had a housekeeper/cook (back then they were called maids and I have a post coming soon about our housekeeper, as well as my cousin’s). Grandma’s housekeeper was a sweet little old lady named Annie.  Of course, when I was little, anyone over 30 was considered old!  We adored Annie and she was part of the family. That woman could cook!  My favorites of Annie’s was apple tarts and tea cakes – just like Grandma used to make!

I remember it just like it was yesterday, running into the kitchen, telling Annie hello and grabbing an apple tart or a tea cake.  Her apple tarts (some people call them turnovers or hand pies) were not made from canned biscuits (not that there is anything wrong with that) – oh no, those were the real deal – from scratch.  If I close my eyes, I can almost taste them.

I wish I had the original recipes.  I do remember the basic ingredients so I scoured my recipe books and magazines to try and find a recipe that most resembled Grandma’s and Annie’s.

When I had just about given up on finding the apple tart recipe, the one made with dried apples, I received my September Southern Living magazine in the mail.  On my first thumb-through, as I was about to close the magazine, I found Grandma’s recipe hiding out in the very back.  I didn’t realize they knew my grandma! 🙂  It may not be the exact recipe, but it’s close enough. They tasted just like the ones I remember.  And that’s all that matters.

Note:  Don’t be afraid of the homemade crust.  I say that because I used to be intimidated by the thought of making my own pie crust.  But these turned over perfectly!

The tea cakes were a whole different story.  I had to try out several before I found the ones that tasted like Annie’s.  And where did I find the recipe?  At Southern Plate, of course!

This post has taken me back to the simpler days of my childhood, including weekend fish fries at grandma’s, along with all the aunts, uncles and cousins, and all the Chinaberry fights between the boy and girl cousins!  I think I’ll have a tea cake, a cup of decaf and reminisce for a few more moments . . .

Grandma's Tea Cakes


Tea Cakes


Apple Tarts


Apple Tarts


Apple Tarts

Apple Tarts


  • Dough
  • 2-1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening (like Crisco)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • Apple Filling
  • 1 (5 oz.) package dried apples
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • Cinnamon Sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • Vegetable Oil (for frying)


  1. (Prepare dough and filling the day before) Prepare dough by stirring together flour and sugar. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Add buttermilk, stirring just until moistened. Shape dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 12-24 hours.
  2. Filling: Bring apples and water (about 3-1/2 cups) to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain and mash apples (use a fork or pastry blender) with 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar and next four ingredients. Cover and chill for 12-24 hours.
  3. Prepare cinnamon sugar by stirring together the 1/4 cups sugar and 1 Tbsp. cinnamon in a small bowl.
  4. To fry: In a dutch oven, add 2 inches of oil. Heat to 350 (I use a candy thermometer to make sure the oil gets to 350 and stays there. It just clips to the side of the dutch oven). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 18 portions. Flatten each portion into a 3 inch circle and then roll into a 5 inch circle. Spoon 1 Tbsp. filling into the center of a circle. Brush edges with water and fold dough over filling. Press edges with a fork to seal. Fry in batches (don't crowd). Watch carefully as it only takes 3-4 minutes to fry. Transfer to a paper towel lined baking sheet. Sprinkle both sides with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  5. Note: When I made these last week, I made the filling per directions and let it set for 1 hour. Then I stuck it in the fridge for about 20 minutes. It worked fine.

Apple Tarts

You may also like:

Grandma’s Brunswick Stew

Grandma's Brunswick Stew

Grandma’s Pink Cloud Salad

Pink Cloud

About Alli

Southern, Morning Person, Jesus Girl, Frugal Party Planner, Writer/Blogger, Mom, Nana, Wife, Beach Bum Wannabe - Let's Have a Party!


  1. Such a beautiful post! I love my grandma to pieces, so your post brought a little tear to my eye. Two days in a row!

  2. You have some sweet memories. My “MawMaw” made tea biscuits and my “Grandmother” made brown sugar cake. I look forward to sitting next to them in heaven some day and chatting about it. 🙂

  3. I truly enjoyed reading this lovely post about your grandmother! She sounds like she was a wonderful lady! And those apple tarts look delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

  4. I saw your post on Anyonita Nibbles. I love apple pie and the tarts recipe is one I’m going to have to try.

  5. These apple tarts look beautiful! And they sound so good!

  6. What a sweet post about your Grandmother and Annie! Love how simple the tea cakes are…I bet they are delicious!

  7. Beautiful post and wonderful recipes!
    I especially like the apple-tarts.
    Pinning it and saving the recipe

  8. So sweet! Recipes always taste better with a dash of memories!

  9. I love this post but I am sentimental. I miss my grandmother tremendously and not matter what I don’t I can’t recreate my fave recipes. Her gingerbread was… *faints* delish

    • I miss both of my grandmothers! They were such an important part of my life when I was growing up. I have such fond memories of them! Grandma’s are the best!

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