After The Presents, A Buttery Tea Cake Tradition For one family in Overland Park, Kan., it's not Christmas without Mrs. Lawrence. The tea cake, rich with butter and spices, is named for the neighbor who would hand deliver it every holiday season.
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After The Presents, A Buttery Tea Cake Tradition

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After The Presents, A Buttery Tea Cake Tradition

After The Presents, A Buttery Tea Cake Tradition

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And now our Found Recipes series presents a little blast from Christmas past.

SUSAN TANNEWITZ-KARNES: For breakfast this morning we had what we always had on Christmas morning - Mrs. Lawrence.

SIEGEL: That's right. She said Mrs. Lawrence. This woman is not a cannibal. She's talking about a tea cake named after the lady who delivered it to neighbors in Johnson City, Tennessee every Christmas.

TANNEWITZ-KARNES: I have another cake recipe I call Mrs. Monroe.

SIEGEL: So with that cleared up we can proceed. A few years ago on this program, Susan Tannewitz-Karnes, now of Overland Park, Kansas, shared the story behind Mrs. Lawrence, the cake. We thought we'd share it with you again this holiday season.

TANNEWITZ-KARNES: It's a not very sweet bread that has raisins and currants and some spice we couldn't quite identify. And it has this fabulous butter filling right in the middle that melts into it when you put it in the oven. It would be delivered sometime probably in the week before Christmas. We would come home from school, and my mother would just say Mrs. Lawrence came by. We have Mrs. Lawrence. And we'd say, oh, yes, yes. We couldn't wait. And on Christmas morning, we'd get through the presents, and then it would be, is it in the oven? Can we have it? And then it was one of those things that you fought over who got a little more of it than anybody else. I grew up and moved away. And Mrs. Lawrence got very old and didn't bring it over anymore. And I happened to be back at my parents' house about 10 years ago, and Mrs. Lawrence was well into her '90s. And I heard people over on her porch, and I went over. And it was her and her daughter and granddaughter. And we talked for a while. And I finally got up the courage to say, if you would ever, ever give up this very special secret recipe, I would love to have it. They were completely dumbfounded. They said it's a secret. And the granddaughter said, oh, well, I'll email it to you tomorrow. I have made it every year since. And my son called this year and asked for the recipe. So Mrs. Lawrence will live on even though the original Mrs. Lawrence has passed quite a few years ago.

SIEGEL: That's listener Susan Tannewitz-Karnes, who told us two years ago about her Christmas food tradition. Those secret spices? The things that made the Mrs. Lawrence cake so flavorful - orange peel, citron, vanilla and nutmeg. You can find the recipe on our Found Recipes page at npr.org.

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