Written by Megan of Stetted.
When I was a girl, I never really noticed how the small moments of our ancestry touched our family celebrations. I only knew that my taste buds had not evolved to the point of being able to enjoy the spiced breads my grandfather would share, and that I could eat a lot of the fried fattigmund cookies that appeared at Christmastime.
Now that I have a child of my own, I’m wishing I had spent more time getting to know the foods of our family, from the Germans on my mother’s side to the English and Swedish on my father’s side. The Swedish part of me I find most intriguing – perhaps because it is a country I know little about to begin with. Wisconsin and Minnesota are full of people with Swedish heritage, but sadly it seems several of the Scandinavian traditions are going away as the last immigrants are leaving us.
This Christmas, I’ve decided we need to add back some of the “Old World” to our lives. Our morning will be spent opening presents, of course, but we’ll also sit down to a breakfast of Swedish Tea Ring, a sweet cardamom-flavored bread that appears on numerous Swedish tables all year long.
Coffee and tea breads are a big part of Swedish culture, and pausing for a sip and a sweet treat during the day has come to be essential for many. Growing up, there was always coffee on for the guests at my grandfather’s house, and countless lingering conversations over those steaming mugs. Today we’ve moved these coffee breaks to the local corner shop, but the desire for warming conversation is still there.
There are likely as many tea ring recipes as there are Swedish families, but this is the one that I’ve found to be my favorite. Traditionally the filling is made with almonds, but you could also use chopped walnuts or pecans, if you like.
|Swedish Tea Ring||
- 1 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk, plus more as needed
- Heat milk and water to just warm (about 80 degrees F). Add yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar, stir to dissolve. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
- Add 2 cups flour and mix until smooth. Mix in butter, 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, salt and cardamom.
- Stir in 2 to 2 1/2 cups of flour, mixing until a shaggy dough forms. Flour a board or countertop and turn out dough. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Dough should be soft and supple.
- Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in bulk, 1 hour to 90 minutes.
- Punch dough down and divide into two.
- Roll one half into a rectangle about 18×10 inches, brush with 1 tablespoon melted butter, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup almonds. (Note – you do not need to use all the sugar, especially if you plan on icing the ring.) Roll up jelly-roll style and place on a baking sheet, connecting ends to form a ring. Cut dough at 1 -inch intervals almost all the way through, but keeping each slice connected. Repeat with remaining dough. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Brush rings with beaten egg. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.
- To serve, whisk together powdered sugar and milk until a smooth icing forms. Drizzle over the top and serve warm.
What do you make for breakfast on Christmas morning? Are you re-creating any family traditions?