Swedish Tea Ring

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 friedย 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
4.8 from 6 reviews
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: Swedish
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 24
Though it seems like this sweet bread takes a long time, the bulk of it is hands-off. Have the dough rise the day before during last-minute gift wrapping and bake before bedtime - it will warm nicely in the oven the next morning.
  • 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
For the filling
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
To finish
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk, plus more as needed
  1. 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.
  2. Add 2 cups flour and mix until smooth. Mix in butter, 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, salt and cardamom.
  3. 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.
  4. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in bulk, 1 hour to 90 minutes.
  5. Punch dough down and divide into two.
  6. Roll one half into a rectangle about 18x10 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.
  7. Brush rings with beaten egg. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.
  8. 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?

About Megan

Megan Myers is a copyeditor and spatula-wielding mom seeking out the simpler life in Texas. Her blog, Stetted, focuses on her familyโ€™s journey from junk food addiction to a diet of local, organic, and whole foods, while exploring the many options farmers provide.

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  1. Hmmm, Yum! Looks awesome.

  2. My goal for today is to finalize our menu for Christmas Eve and Christmas. My mom used to make her grandma’s almond roll every Christmas but I haven’t experimented with a gluten free version yet.

  3. I may just try this! Love the Scandinavian recipes.

  4. I don’t mind when recipes take a while, as long as they’re delicious! And this looks like it is a fabulous recipe. Love this!

  5. Swedish Cardamom bread is part of my family’s holiday tradition, as well. It’s better the next day… and we braid ours into loaves (less work, we’re lazy!) :-) Some people who’ve never had cardamom don’t like it, but one bite of it brings be right back into my grandmother’s kitchen.

    • This is in my traditions too (and my mother’s half is Polish to your German, go figure) – I think I like the cardamom coffee cake better because it is a little less work but they are both wonderful.

  6. Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies says:

    While my family is of English, Irish, and German descent, we never really concentrated any food traditions around those foods. For us, it’s been all about Texas cuisine my entire life. We make tamales over Christmas, and we have them to eat on Christmas morning with chili gravy, basted eggs, and refried beans. A glorious Tex-Mex celebration.
    I love the look of this tea ring, mostly because it reminds me of my favorite Norwegian treat, Schoolbread. That dough, too, is spiced with cardamom, but is more like a yeasty donut filled with creme and topped with toasted coconut and a sweet glaze. I bet this tea ring would be even more awesome with a little toasted coconut sprinkled over that glaze.

  7. Thank you. I’ve no Swedish ancestry, but I’m drawn to Scandinavian Christmas traditions. Looking forward to making this.

  8. My family has a heavy Swedish ancestry and spritz is the main thing each holiday. I have never made one of these but am dying to try it. For us though, Christmas morning is all about the cinnamon rolls. ^_~ Made the night before, rising overnight and baked fresh in the morning!

  9. I love swedish food and used to have a girlfriend who would make delicious swedish treats for the holidays. I should definitely try to make this wonderful swedish tea ring for a Christmas weekend. I am sure my family will love it.

  10. Looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it. As a native Minnesotan (and Norwegian-Swedish hybrid), I can attest that many of us are still quite excited about Scandinavian traditions and cooking. Obama even dined at a new-ish restaurant in MN that’s sort of modern Scandinavian/Minnesotan — Bachelor Farmer! I made lefse with a friend last weekend, and you can bet that our holidays will include gjetost, glogg, and smoked fish.

  11. This looks yummy! I’ve also been intrigued/drawn to my Scandinavian roots. One thing that we make a lot of this time of year is pulla (finnish coffee bread). It is also spiced with cardamom and is very good toasted and buttered generously. Will definitely be trying this recipe as well sometime soon. :)

  12. Made this yesterday, and it was wonderful. Definitely going to make more of these over the holiday.

  13. And I came across this wonderful Danish christmas tradition on one of my favourite food blogs today; for rice pudding, in which one bowl is hidden an almond – lovely twist on the coin in the pudding!

  14. Despite having a million OTHER Christmas traditions, Christmas breakfast has always been an ad hoc affair for us. I love doing King Cakes for Mardi Gras, and this seems right up my alley – I might make this for New Year’s Day breakfast, since we always need something warm and filling after that long night!

  15. With finely chopped almonds, very good.

  16. This looks perfect for a fika! :)

    I’ve lived in Sweden two separate years and somehow missed out on this awesome tea ring. I made it after I returned and loved it! This looks amazing and I love that you’re exploring your Swedish roots. I’m not the least bit Swedish but love exploring all things Swedish. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. so am I correct that this makes two rings? since you cut the dough in half and do the same thing to it twice? Thanks!

    • Yes, it makes two! You could try making one, but the dough gets a little unwieldy and my own pans aren’t quite big enough to contain it.

  18. Making it right now. I put cinnamon in my dough and for the filling i put butter brown sugar gold raisins and shredded coconut. For the icing im going to put a cream of coconut icing on top

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