Monday, December 24, 2012

My Mom's Tea Ring

One of my family's most cherished Christmas traditions was when my mom would make her Swedish Tea Ring.  Every Christmas Eve, she would work her magic and take flour, sugar, butter, an egg, cinnamon and a few other ingredients and make the most wonderful thing we could think of, her tea ring.  When we were little, we would eat it on Christmas morning for breakfast.  When we got older, we would indulge after Midnight mass.  She kept up the tradition for many years, but as we grew up, got married, and left home, she stopped making it.  We often talked about how yummy it was and how pretty it was, but she didn't make it.  I'm not sure why, but probably because it was a lot of work and we started celebrating Christmas with my parents at lunch or dinner, not breakfast.  Instead she would make homemade rolls and cherry and pecan pies.  But the tradition of the tea ring has stayed with me through the years.  My family has it's own tradition for Christmas morning, but the tea ring still says "Christmas" to me.  And it says Mom.

My mom in the red and green dress reading from the Christmas Book.
On September 16 of this year, she passed away at the too young age of 69.  She had only been diagnosed with stage IV cancer 6 weeks earlier.  To say it was a shock is an understatement.  In our family she is Christmas.  She spent a week every year decorating every corner of her house.  She had an enormous angel collection and Santa collection.  She had peach colored Christmas decorations to match the color of her bathroom.  She put lights up over the English bar in her dining room and every window or ledge had some Christmas decoration.  She had what looked like an elf on the shelf waaaaaaay before they were called that.  She put on a green and red striped floor length dress and read a Christmas story to her grandchildren.  She often had themed gifts for not only her grandchildren, but her children and daughters and sons-in-laws.  She would come downstairs and tell the grandkids to go in the other room so she could fill the stockings.  Christmas was always an event with her and my dad.  She made sure we always were all together to celebrate, not worrying about whether it was on December 25.  I am so grateful to her for that.  Once we moved to Illinois, we only went home about three times a year.  To know I was going to get to see my two older brothers and older sister, their spouses and all of my nieces and nephews at Christmas every year was such a blessing.

So with her on my mind right now, I knew I had to try my hand at a tea ring.  I made two and my kids told me they were delicious.  My husband told me it was great.  And I had a little piece of my mom again, if only for a moment.  I decorated it just the way she did, with green and red maraschino cherries.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I always did, and now will in memory of my mom.

Tea Ring decorated with red and green maraschino cherries

 Tea Ring
Adapted from The Betty Crocker Cookbook: Swedish Tea Ring

1 package active dry yeast
½ cup warm water , (105 - 115º)
½ cup lukewarm milk, (scalded then cooled)
⅓ cup sugar
⅓ cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
3½ - 4 cups all purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter, softened, divided
⅔ cup sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

In large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in milk, sugar, butter, salt, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, turn dough greased side up. Cover. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch dough down. Divide dough in half.

On a lightly floured surface, roll half of dough into a 15x9-inch rectangle. Spread with two tablespoons of butter (like buttering a piece of bread). Mix sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Sprinkle half of sugar mixture evenly over dough. Roll up tightly, starting with the 15-inch side. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal well. Stretch roll slightly to make even.

Transfer dough to greased or parchment lined baking sheet. With sealed edge down, shape into a ring. Pinch ends together to close ring. With kitchen scissors, make cuts 2/3 of the way through the ring at 1-inch intervals. After ring has been cut, pull out each piece carefully and turn on it's side. Let rise until double, 40 to 60 minutes.

Repeat method with other half of dough.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Bake for 23-29 minutes, or until golden brown. If tea ring browns too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil.

In a bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Spoon over warm or cooled tea rings. Decorate with maraschino cherries if desired.
Tea Ring before adding the glaze.

Notes: The best part of this recipe is that it makes two!  One to eat and one to share.  that is exactly what my mom did when we lived in England for five years.  She would make several tea rings then we would deliver them to friends to share on their Christmas morning. 

Have a blessed Christmas!  Thank you for sharing in my 12 Recipes of Christmas!


Leanne G said...

They were the best. Such an awesome memory.

Anonymous said...

Such an awesome story. It's wonderful how you honored your mom, Heather. I loved reading the story attached to this recipe.

I was thinking about making this. How hard do you think it is for a novice baker? I have never made anything using yeast.


Heather said...

Amanda - You can do it! It is not hard. Just time consuming. Follow the directions carefully and don't rush the rising time.