Swedish Tea Ring

Starting the morning with sweet rolls warm from the oven makes the holiday season feel more special. Whether on Christmas morning, after the stockings have been opened, or to recover from a late evening on New Year's Eve, the smell of yeast creates sweet memories. In years past, I have made chocolate hazelnut rollsalmond cardamom rolls, and cinnamon sugar swirl bread. This year I have been testing out the Swedish Tea Ring, a sweet bread similar to a cinnamon roll, but in a shape that is better suited for sharing.

In partnership with King Arthur Flour, each month I want to challenge you with a new recipe, filled with step-by-step explanations and techniques, to help you grow and develop as a baker. This month we're tackling sweet yeasted dough. Just as coffee cakes are meant to be served alongside a cup of coffee, the Swedish Tea Ring is meant to be served with a mug of hot tea. Swedish Tea Rings come in a variety of forms, some with fresh fruit and some with dried fruit, but the most common ingredient is finely chopped nuts. 

This dough combines a mixture of whole wheat and all-purpose flour. Whole wheat flour is a healthier alternative to white flour and has a nutty undertone, which complements the almonds in the recipe. Sweet dough has higher levels of fat, sugar, and egg than traditional dough, which keeps the bread soft and tender after baking. This recipe uses milk and butter to retain moisture in the final product. The dough is also spiced with ground cardamom to give it additional warmth in flavor.

After the dough is mixed together, it must be kneaded to develop gluten before rising. (1) To begin kneading, bring the dough into a ball shape on a lightly floured surface. (2) Using the heel of your hand, push the dough downwards at an angle to stretch it away from you. (3) Rotate the dough 90 degrees. (4) Fold it in half and repeat, beginning with step 2. As the dough is kneaded, you will be able to feel the dough firm up as the gluten forms. As the texture of the dough changes, the dough will also require less flour and may be easier to knead on a flour-less surface. If too much flour is incorporated into the dough, it will become stiff and difficult to work with; take care not to sprinkle too much flour on the surface. 

After 7-10 minutes of kneading by hand, the dough will begin to feel elastic and spring back under your touch. I prefer to knead by hand to feel the texture of the dough change (and for the personal relaxation that comes from repetitive motion), but directions for kneading by machine are included in the recipe below. Place in a bowl, cover, and allow to rise for 1-2 hours.

The filling contains a mixture of butter, cinnamon, and demerara sugar. Demerara sugar is a partially unrefined, raw sugar. It has larger crystals than brown sugar, but a similar caramel and molasses flavor profile. If you do not have demerara sugar on hand, brown sugar can be used as an alternative. 

After the dough has risen, roll it out into a 12 x 18-inch rectangle. Take care not to use too much flour on your work surface or the dough will be more difficult to roll out. It is best if it lightly sticks to the surface because the dough will better hold its shape. Evenly coat the dough with the brown sugar mixture and sprinkle on a layer of finely chopped almonds. In the photograph below, the almonds are uneven in sizeβ€”try to avoid this. The filling retains a better texture when the nuts are chopped small and evenly sized.

From the long edge, the dough is tightly rolled into a log and placed seam side down onto a baking sheet. The ends are cut off the dough and the exposed ends are brought together to create a circular, ring shape. Pinch the ends together to seal. Using a kitchen shears, cut the log two-thirds of the way through in two-inch thick segments around the circle. Carefully turn the segments upwards so the interior of the dough is exposed. Cover and allow to rise a second time for 30-45 minutes.

Brush the exterior of the dough with egg wash and sprinkle on additional demerara sugar before baking. The egg wash helps the dough brown to a deep golden color in the oven. The large grains of the demerara sugar keep their shape in the oven, adding a unique look and texture to the final product. Large white crystal sugar can also be used, but avoid granulated or brown sugar because it will melt in the oven and you will not be able to achieve the same look. 

To begin your weekend or holiday morning with a warm slice, the Swedish Tea Ring can be assembled the night before and baked the next morning. The evening before, prepare the dough and arrange it to form the final shape. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, preheat the oven and set out the dough to warm and rise for the second time for 45-60 minutes. Brush on the egg white and sprinkle with demerara sugar just before baking.

The Swedish Tea Ring brings together the warm winter spices of cinnamon and cardamom in a sweet, buttery bread. The ring is filled with demerara sugar to bring out caramel tones and finely chopped almonds for their nutty flavor and texture. The shape of the sweet bread makes it easy to cut and share with the people you hold near and dear.

One Year Ago: Almond Espresso Cookies
Two Years Ago: Cranberry Upside Down Cake and Peppermint Marshmallows
Three Years Ago: Lemon Cranberry Scones, Chocolate Pomegranate TartAlmond Cardamom RollsRed Wine Chocolate Truffles, and Gingerbread Cookies
Four Years Ago: Pumpkin Panna Cotta, Honey CookiesPeppermint Pinwheels, and Sugar Cookies
Five Years Ago: Blueberry Brownies, White Chocolate Saffron Truffles, Pear ChipsCandy Striped Meringues, and Chocolate Truffles

Swedish Tea Ring

Yields 14-18 servings

Dough
2/3 cup (155 mL) milk, lukewarm in temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
4 tablespoons (56 grams) butter, melted
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups (240 grams) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup (128 grams) King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling
4 tablespoons (56 grams) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (110 grams) demerara sugar, plus extra for sprinkling*
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
4 ounces (115 grams) almonds, finely chopped
Egg wash (1 large egg + 1 tablespoon water, whisked)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the lukewarm milk, sugar, egg, melted butter, and yeast. Using a bowl scraper, fold in the flours, cardamom, and salt until the dough comes together and appears uniform. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. If using a stand mixer, knead the dough on low for 3-5 minutes with the dough hook attachment, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. 

Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and allow the dough to rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 to 2 hours.

To make the filling, mix together the butter, sugar, and cinnamon until it forms uniform paste. 

When the dough has doubled in volume, punch down the dough and, on a lightly floured surface, flatten the dough into a rectangular shape. Roll out the dough to a 12-by-18 inch rectangle. Using an offset spatula, spread the filling over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around all edges. Sprinkle on the finely chopped almonds evenly and press the almonds down lightly into the filling.

From the long end, roll the dough tightly into a log and place seam side down. Cut off the ends so the log appears uniform. Form the log into a ring shape and pinch the open ends together. Using a kitchen shears, cut the dough 2/3 of the way into the log into 2-inch segments. Carefully turn the segments upwards so the interior of the dough is exposed. Cover and let rise for an additional 30-45 minutes. 

While dough is rising, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Brush with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with additional demerara sugar. Bake the tea ring for 25 minutes, or until golden. If it browns too quickly, cover with aluminum foil to prevent browning during the last 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

This post is sponsored through a partnership with King Arthur Flour. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Almond Date Banana Smoothie

Almond Date Banana Smoothie

Almond Date Banana Smoothie

It is a new year. When the calendar on the wall is replaced, my mind drifts to thoughts of resolutions and new beginningsβ€”often whether I'd like it to or not. This time last year I shared with you how I felt I no longer needed to make a list of resolutions. I was already keeping both mind and body healthy; a list to remind me to do so felt redundant. This year, however, is quite a different story.

When I took a teaching job and moved across state lines this fall, it threw my life, my predictable patterns and routines, into disarray. Even though months have passed, I haven't been able to get the fragments back in order. I often feel like a puzzle with the outer edges intact, but missing a few pieces in the middle.

Almond Date Banana Smoothie
Almond Date Banana Smoothie

I pay for a membership to a gym I rarely attend. More often than not, it feels as though I'm paying for the privilege of guilt; a packed gym bag sits in the front seat of the car acting as a silent, but continual reminder. As my days are long and filled with the hours of a first year teacher, I find I do not often cook for pleasure anymore. When dinner rolls around, I opt for the least involved option, which is often take out or some version of plain noodles covered in a fried egg. Truthfully, I eat this type of meal half a dozen times a week, throwing nutrition out the window. I miss food, real food.

I have been working on these changes for awhile, however slow progress may feel at times. Just this afternoon I filled the refrigerator with a real, honest to goodness pork roast. Progress. It seems that when the new year slides in, we compile lists of all the things that we are doing wrong, instead of congratulating ourselves for the things that we are doing well. I, too, am guilty of this, if my prior confessions are any indication. It is noble to want to better ourselves, but I also believe that we shouldn't forget how far we've come on our journeys of self discovery. This is perhaps the most important thing we can do.

Almond Date Banana Smoothie

When I was reading quotes about the new year, I was drawn to the one I shared with you above. As a teacher, I feel that for everything I do right in the classroom, there's a misstep that follows, whether it be a genuine mistake or simply something I could have said or explained better. By the day's end, there's a dozen of these little missteps that follow me to bed, before I bury them and start anew the next morning. If I'm making mistakes, whether I'm in the kitchen inventing a new recipe or leading young minds through the field of physics, I'm learning something new. I'm trying something new.

I may not be perfect, never perfect, but I am strong and doing well. I'm making mistakes because I am putting myself out there and trying something new. While some aspects of my life may be neglected now, I'll figure it out. I always do. For your next year, I hope you make mistakes too.

Almond Date Banana Smoothie

Lately I have been craving a good smoothie, but haven't gotten around to making one until this weekend. This Almond Date Banana Smoothie is naturally sweet and has a character all its own. A frozen banana composes the base, a spoonful of almond butter adds a nutty tone, and a handful of dates gives it a rounded flavor. Small pieces of date are left in the drink, giving a nice little treat for each bite. Though this smoothie may be simple, the flavors are sophisticated and perfect for an early morning or afternoon on the go.

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Date Flapjacks From Izy of Top With Cinnamon

Date Flapjacks From Izy of Top With Cinnamon

Date Flapjacks | Izy of Top With Cinnamon on Pastry Affair

I stumbled across Izy's blog, Top With Cinnamon, over a year ago. Izy's photographs are absolutely breathtaking and her flavor combinations are both decadent and refreshing. And she also makes gifs! Watching her dig a spoon or fork into cookies or cakes gets me every single time. I just stare at the gooey chocolate and sigh. You will, too.

Date Flapjacks | Izy of Top With Cinnamon on Pastry Affair

Hi everyone! I'm so honoured to be able to guest post on Kristin's blog. The Pastry Affair has been one of my top sources of inspiration ever since I started my blog. Thank you so much for inviting me to contribute to such a beautiful space!

Date Flapjacks | Izy of Top With Cinnamon on Pastry Affair

Today, I'm bringing a classic British treat to your screens (and hopefully, kitchens!). Flapjacks.

Over here, a flapjack is a well-loved, simple granola bar-esque treat. They're loaded with butter and oats, as well as golden syrup. They're basically the best application of golden syrup in baking that I've ever found. That unique caramelised flavour translates so well to the final bar, and provides a brilliantly chewy texture. Of course, it can be easily substituted for another liquidy sweetener like honey or agave syrup, with excellent results too!

Date Flapjacks | Izy of Top With Cinnamon on Pastry Affair

A few years ago, my brother went through a phase of baking chocolate chip flapjacks EVERY SINGLE WEEK. I mean, of course I love them (it's butter, sugar and oats. Only crazy people wouldn't love that) but eventually got tired of their richness.

Date Flapjacks | Izy of Top With Cinnamon on Pastry Affair

In an effort to cut that richness and make them a bit more, ummm, healthy.... I've found my own perfect version of flapjacks. There's less added sugar in the oat part, coconut oil in place of some butter, and a gooey date ribbon running through them. (Oh, and there's a good pinch of Maldon salt in them too. Salty-sweet is my jam.)

Date Flapjacks | Izy of Top With Cinnamon on Pastry Affair

The smell alone of these when they're baking will be enough to draw everyone into the kitchen. They're that good. And hey, you could probably pass them off as a healthy granola bar and no one would ever judge you for eating 4 of them in one go (that totally didn't happen. But also, it actually did.)

Date Flapjacks | Izy of Top With Cinnamon on Pastry Affair

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