Tea fingers

It’s been a slow blog week for me. Not that there’s been nothing happening in the world, or the old country, or the new, but having worked on the Carnival of Feminists, and then stewed for a while about the way that our society just refuses to treat children and parents as equal citizens when it comes to jointly owned resources, I have come to a halt. Common undergraduate wisdom has it that Bertrand Russell fried his brain writing Principia Mathematica, and nothing he wrote subsequently was as good; at present, I feel much the same way, ‘though with no particular justification.  Just tired, I think.

teafingers.jpgSo, in lieu of anything constructive to say, I offer you some comfort food. Comfort food, because it’s my mother’s recipe. My children love them.

Tea fingers are very old fashioned, in conception, and in taste – cakey in texture, and almondy and jammy in flavour. Perfect for afternoon tea, of course, but also excellent for putting in school lunches, even though the school lunch box police will scold you. Just one more thing that parents do wrong.


First, grease a sponge roll tray, or jelly tin, or slide tin, whatever you like to call it. An oblong baking dish, with sides at least 1.5cm high, and preferably a little higher. My mum uses a 24cm by 34cm tin, but she has issues with the amount of pastry (see below). My tin is 24cm by 37cm, and I prefer to line it with baking paper rather than greasing it.

Next, you need to make a pastry base. And here’s where you can see how old the recipe is – the measures are imperial, and for some ingredients, there is no measure at all!

Rub 2oz butter (about 50grams) into 4oz (about a cup) of self raising flour.

Add a little milk, and work to a soft dough.

That’s right – “a little”. Start with about 1/4 cup of milk, and see how you go. The dough does need to be softish.Using a rising agent (in the self raising flour) means that the pastry will be more cakelike. If you don’t have self raising flour on hand, use 1 teaspoon baking powder for each cup of plain flour.

Roll the pastry out, and use it to line your sponge roll tin.

I find that the quantity of pastry is not really enough, so I tend to double the mix for the pastry. That gives me a bit too much, but it is far easier to cut some off than it is to make a small amount stretch ever further.

At this stage, turn the oven on to 350 to 375 degrees fahrenheit (about 170 to 180 degrees celsius).

Spread a thin layer of jam over the pastry. I usually use raspberry jam.

Next, make the topping.

Cream 2oz (about 50 grams) butter and 1 cup of sugar.

Add two eggs and beat well.
Add 4oz self raising flour (1 cup), 1/4 cup milk, and a few drops of almond essence and mix well. If you don’t care for almond flavours, try vanilla essence instead.

Pour the mix over the pastry and jam, and spread out evenly.

Bake for about 30 minutes. This is where I have issues with my shallow pan. Sometimes the mix runs over the edge of the pan, so I put a biscuit slide underneath it, to catch any spills.

Ice (frost) when cool, and slice into fingers when cold.

Mum advises using a butter icing, but I prefer lemon icing – a nut of butter, hot water, lemon juice, and enough icing sugar to make a thin icing. The cake is rich and sweet, so you don’t need thick icing on it.



A more concise version of the recipe:

Tea Fingers


Rub 2oz of butter into 4oz of S R flour
Add a little milk and work to a soft dough.
Roll out and line a sponge roll tin ..

Spread with jam.


Cream 2oz of butter and 1 cup of sugar.
Add 2 eggs and beat well.
Add 4oz of SR flour, 1/4 cup of milk and essence.
Pour over pastry.
Bake 30 min. at 350 to 375 deg.
Ice with butter icing and slice when cold.


One response to “Tea fingers

  1. oh they sound nice, I could give them a whirl at the weekend cause we’re having someone over for afternoon tea.