Sunday, December 21, 2014

Swedish Tea Ring

Swedish Tea Ring

When I was a girl, a week or so before Christmas a large box would arrive at our house.  It was from my paternal grandmother.  She was a woman I saw rarely because my parents divorced when I was a baby and I never knew my father.  Even though the circumstances of our relationship were less than ideal, the feeling of love I received from her was palpable.  

My grandmother was the best baker I have ever met.  Her rye bread would melt in your mouth and every Christmas she would make Swedish tea rings.  She was of Swedish decent and is now buried in a small Swedish cemetery.  Each year at Christmas she would send us a box of wonderful homemade goodies; some baked, some candies.  A Swedish tea ring was always among the gifts.  In addition to the extraordinary holiday treats, she would always send small gifts such as mittens, a scarf, a modest game, etc.  The gifts were not that memorable but the love and thought that went into that box have made a memory I will carry with me always.  

Each year I continue my grandmother's tradition.  I bake two tea rings--one for Christmas morning and the other to give to our daughter and her husband.  The exercise is a gift to myself more than anything else.  It binds me to a memory of a woman who I really didn't know all that well, but from whom I received love and Christmas joy.  Each Christmas I travel to my grandmother's grave to place greens (my own small gift in gratitude for her love).  As I bake the tea rings and smell them, I think of her and the timeless gift of love and memory she gave to me.  I hope you enjoy the recipe.  Perhaps you can make your own memories with it.  Olivia and I wish you a very Merry Christmas.  We hope you rejoice in the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Swedish Tea Ring (makes one ring)
Sweet Dough:
1 pkg active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105-155 degrees)
1/4 cup lukewarm milk, scalded then cooled
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup shortening
2/1/4-2 1/2 cups flour
In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Stir in milk, sugar, salt, egg, shortening, and half the flour.  Mix with spoon until smooth.  Add enough remaining flour to handle easily; mix with hand or spoon (you may also use a dough hook on a stand mixer but don't overwork the dough).  Turn onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Round up in greased bowl; turn once to bring greased side up.  Cover; let rise in warm place (85 degrees) until double, about 1 1/2 hours.  To test for rising, stick 2 fingers in dough.  If holes remain but top stays smooth, dough is ready.  Punch down.  Follow tea ring recipe and bake.
Tea Ring:
Sweet dough
2 T. soft butter or margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup golden raisins
Creamy White Glaze
Roll dough on lightly floured board into rectangle--about 15 by 9 inches; spread with butter.  Stir together sugar, cinnamon and raisins.  Sprinkle over the dough.  Beginning at the long side, roll up tightly as for a jelly roll.  Seal well by pinching edges of the roll together.  Stretch roll slightly to make it even.  Place sealed edge down in a ring on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Pinch ends together.  With scissors, make cuts 2/3 way through the ring at 1 inch intervals.  Turn each section on its side.  Let rise until double--about 45 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes (less if your oven tends to be hot).  While warm frost with creamy white glaze.
Creamy White Glaze:
3 T. melted butter or margarine
1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2-3 T orange juice (or until desired consistency)

After you frost the tea ring, decorate with nuts and cherries.

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