Getting My Fill of Almonds: Swedish Tea Ring

My cousin Cindy recently hosted a cousins brunch (we have two other cousins who live in the area), and she asked me to bring a dessert. I wanted to make some sort of pastry or coffee cake, and I decided on Beatrice Ojakangas' recipe for "Swedish Tea Ring (Vetekrans)." Although it's a yeasted bread, the no-knead method makes it relatively simple.

To make the dough, you mix together melted butter, sugar, eggs, salt, flour, and yeast dissolved in warm water. You cover and chill the dough for at least two hours and up to 24; I left it in the fridge overnight so it chilled for about 10 hours.

After the dough has risen in the refrigerator, you roll it into a large square. My dough was very soft and sticky and difficult to manage. Once it's rolled out, you spread on a thin layer of softened butter, sprinkle on cinnamon sugar and finely chopped almonds, and roll up the dough with the sugar and nuts inside. My roll was messy and uneven because the dough was so soft; it also tore in a few spots due to sticking and I did the best I could to patch it back together. Still, I managed to shape the roll into a ring, seal the ends together, and transfer the ring to a parchment-lined pan.

I tried to make the traditional Swedish ring shape by cutting partway through the ring at one-inch intervals and turning the slices to expose the roll of cinnamon inside. But the slices looked lopsided and irregular because the soft dough wasn't holding its shape well.

I let the ring rise until it doubled in size and then baked it until golden. The ring expanded substantially during baking and some parts ended up squashed against the sides of the half-sheet pan I used; it was massive. While the ring was hot from the oven, I drizzled on a glaze made of powdered sugar, milk, and almond extract.
The glaze was semi-opaque and hid a multitude of sins. The oversized cake wasn't the picturesque ring I had envisioned, but individual slices of cake looked pretty good. Most importantly, the ring was cooked all the way through and the pastry was tender and delicious. I absolutely loved the strong almond flavor.

I'm tempted to try this recipe again with a little more flour to see if I can get a stiffer dough that will be easier to handle. But despite my struggles with the dough and the fact that my final product didn't look anything like a typical Swedish ring, the cake tasted fantastic and I was happy with the way it turned out. Everyone enjoyed it at the brunch and happily took home a share of the abundant supply of leftovers!

Recipe: "Swedish Tea Ring (Vetekrans)" from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas.


Jessica said…
Hi - I haven't commented before, but I've followed your blog with interest for a while (I'm a baker-who's-a-(ex-)lawyer-in-DC also). I thought to comment here because this recipe reminded me of one I saw last holiday season on another blog I follow called For Love of the Table. I haven't actually baked/cooked any of her recipes, but I like her style and thoroughness and discussion of method, and I've bookmarked many of them. Her write-ups on things like pie crust/pate brisee/pate sable are very thorough and helpful, for example. Anyway her Swedish Tea Ring/Coffeecake is similar to Ojakangas' (the proportions seem roughly similar; dough ingredients are mostly the same), including the long cold rise, though she calls for more traditional treatment of a sweet dough - kneading, proofing, etc. (which probably would make the dough handle differently). But her instructions on rolling, shaping, cutting, etc. are far more thorough with plenty of pictures. Given your analytical approach to baking, I thought you might be interested to compare. Here's the link:
Jessica -- thanks for reading and commenting! I do love that post on For Love of the Table -- her photos are exactly how I hoped that my Swedish Tea Ring would look! I do think that generally no-knead breads tend to be floppier (or at least this is my personal experience), so maybe I should try a traditional kneaded dough to get something a bit neater. I also love the idea of a pistachio-cranberry filling!