Christmas is just around the corner and I’ll be making our traditional family Christmas breakfast bread once again. I had a slight mishap with this in 2007. We had just moved into our home about a month earlier and I had a gas oven that I wasn’t used to. There I was, on Christmas Eve, baking the first of two tea rings. I sat on the floor in front of the oven marvelling at the fact that it was going to be our first Christmas in our new place. I saw a little lever above the oven door and started playing with it. What I didn’t know was that I had engaged the lock for the self-clean cycle. While the oven wasn’t on self-clean mode my setting the lock meant that the oven couldn’t be opened until it cooled to 90°F. So there I sat, crying, as my beautiful breakfast became golden, then brown, then black. Thankfully the dough makes two so once the oven cooled I was able to open it and bake the second one. I learned a lesson about playing with things when I don’t know what they are for. Even cookbook authors can have a bad day in the kitchen.
my Mom’s Swedish tea ring
makes 2 large rings or 3 smaller ones
Every Christmas morning from my childhood entailed waking up Mom and Dad, emptying our Christmas stockings, opening presents, and devouring slices of Swedish tea ring for breakfast. I remember one year Mom was so excited that she finally found cardamom and she added 1/4 teaspoon of it to the filling mix. It switched up the flavor nicely. It’s a very pretty bread that looks like a decorated wreath. Sometimes I divide the dough into 3 or 4 and make mini tea rings to give as gifts.
Measure into a large bowl
1 cup lukewarm water
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
And stir until dissolved
Sprinkle with contents of
2 envelopes Fleishmans Dry Yeast
Let stand 10 minutes then stir well.
In the meantime scald
1 cup milk
Remove from heat and stir in
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons shortening
Cool to lukewarm and add to yeast mixture. Stir in 2 well beaten eggs. Stir in 3 cups of pre-sifted flour and beat until smooth. Add in cardamom if desired. Work in 3 more cups of pre-sifted flour. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl and let rise until double in bulk.
Divide the dough into 2 and roll into a rectangle about 3/8 of an inch thick. Spread with melted butter to 1 inch from the edge of the dough. Sprinkle the following filling on top of the melted butter…
1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sultana raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Roll the filled dough up like a jellyroll starting at the longest side. Seal the edges and place on a well-greased baking sheet. Bring the ends together to form a ring damping the edges to seal. Make slits about 1 inch apart but only 3/4 of the distance to the centre. Turn each section on its side. Cover and let rise until double in bulk.
Bake at 400°F for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from pans immediately.
While still warm, ice with a mixture of…
3/4 cup of icing sugar
1 tablespoon milk (may need a little more)
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract