Nif-tea Buns

My friend Kelly C. is a busy woman & mom, who also happens to excel at making sure the taste-buds of a few vegan cookbook authors aren’t totally FUBAR.

That is to say she’s a recipe tester, but the word always reminds me of a toothpick poked into cakes to make sure they’re fully baked, and since this blog isn’t limited to 140 characters per post, I’ll use the wordier version if I want to. So, ha.

She and I were e-chatting about family recipes a few days ago, and she told me about her late Nan and the fantastic tea buns she used to make. I asked Kelly if she would share a few words about her grandmother as well as the recipe in question here.

She says: “Nan’s actually the one who started my love of baking and cooking even though she really couldn’t cook. She was an awesome baker, made the best bread in the world but her cooking was mostly based on a dare.”

Kelly describes the tea buns as being “great just with butter but extra special with jam. My Nan also used to make ones with raisins in them with a bit of orange zest. Also excellent! They make a pretty awesome strawberry shortcake too since they are a little sweet.”

I happily concur, as it was a treat to both make and devour these. As is customary for this type of recipe, be sure to use ingredients that are as cold as possible in order to get the best results. And don’t overwork the dough, under penalty of an impossibly messy food fight.

Nan’s Tea Buns:

Courtesy of Kelly C. & her Nan, veganizationalized by Kelly

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening, cold, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup vegan buttery stick, cold, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup soft tofu, blended smooth
3/4 cup soymilk

Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Cut in shortening and butter until only pebble sized pieces remain and buttery in colour.
Add tofu to liquid measure and top it up to one cup with milk. Mix together with fork and add to flour/butter mixture. Stir until just combined with fork.
Turn out onto floured surface and gently fold over a few times until it comes together. It will be soft and slightly tacky.
Roll out by hand by gently patting it down until it is uniformly 1-inch thick. Note that the less you mess around with the dough, the more tender they will be.
Cut with 2-inch biscuit cutter into rounds and place on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.

Yield: About 16

And because I can never pass up the opportunity to admire old pictures of fabulous people…

Kelly describes this picture of her grandparents as having been taken “when Nan and my Poppy got married. It was during World War II. She was a war bride. She came over to Newfoundland after the War all by herself on a boat from Scotland. She was hilarious too, had a great sense of humour and was always making jokes. That’s what is great about that generation: They went through so much and still she was always smiling.”

Thank you Kelly for sharing your Nan’s recipe: I raise my cup of tea to a true lady alongside whom it would have been an honor and a hoot to bake!

  • Karen says:

    Alo, ma tres chere, comment vas tu? :) Oh sweetie – please tell Kelly that not only are her Gran and Poppy gorgeous, but the spirit coming through that photo is just…well, the way the world should be. And as for the buns…HOLY MOLY, gotta do those. That cutting in the shortening/”butter” reminds me of the way me mum does pie crusts…and they are the best pie crusts on earth, man… :)

  • Elise says:

    What a lovely old photo. I love looking through the family archive of photos, most of people who I don’t know but I know are related to me, it’s quite magic. Tea buns are always a winner :)

  • Josiane says:

    Grandmas have the best recipes! Thanks to Kelly for veganizing this one and to you both for sharing it. :)

  • Julie Marie says:

    yes! always am in love with your photos. I love the worn out wood background. The first photo is my total fav. tilt shift lens? I am looking to upgrade to a more proper lens just was wondering if you had an opinion on which you prefer. Im not trying to be one of those annoying commenters who are like ‘what camera do you use? let me jack your style’ kind of people.

    :) julie

    • Celine says:

      just a regular macro lens, the 60mm for Nikon. I was all “down with tripods!” and hand-holding the camera that day, so that might explain the tilt shift vibe you got.
      what lens do you already have? because the 50mm is still the one that rules them all.

      • Julie Marie says:

        cool thanks for the reply :)
        I use the 50mm. but with the 1.6x magnification or whatever it is that my non full frame has, I don’t really like the 50 on it. I once used a 90 tilt shift with a full frame and it was so amazing but so much money.

        • Celine says:

          try the 35mm, maybe? I hear good things about it, it’s rather affordable (well, as much as these things can be…) and it would give you approximately the scope a 50mm would have on a full frame body.

  • Thank you, Kelly for sharing these buns. I am partial to G’ma recipes. They always turn out great.:) I have started raising a toast to blogs I love on my fb page and today I raised a toast to yours, Celine! You have one of the finest vegan blogs I have seen!

    • Celine says:

      thank you Harini, that’s quite an honor: you know I am totally smitten with your images and mad skills.