This Swedish Tea Ring is a traditional Scandinavian dessert that is perfect for the holidays. It is a wreath shaped pastry spiced with cardamom and filled with almond paste.
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I enjoy making food from around the world, especially traditional holiday food. It is a great way to celebrate and have fun learning about different cultures.
For some reason when it comes to desserts I am really drawn to baking Scandinavian desserts, like Swedish Almond Cake and Norwegian Bløtkake. I think it is partly because they seem less intimidating than fancy French desserts!
As far as I know I don’t have any Scandinavian heritage, but I do have some friends who have given me their traditional family recipes. This Swedish Tea Ring is another delicious dessert from the northern part of Europe which is perfect for the holiday season.
This dessert is a little more complicated than most desserts I make. But Christmas is the time of year for taking a little more time to make a spectacular dessert!
Why You Will Love this Swedish Tea Ring
- It is very elegant and is sure to impress guests and family.
- It isn’t difficult to make, just a little time consuming.
- The dough is cardamom flavored, so it smells amazing as it bakes.
- The dough is filled with a sweet almond filling that reminds me of marzipan.
- It is shaped like a wreath, which makes is perfect for Christmas, especially if you decorate it with bright red cherries.
The dough for this Swedish tea ring is a yeast based sweet dough, similar to what would be used for cinnamon rolls or danish pastries.
- Milk – I use 1% milk in this recipe.
- Yeast, warm water – The yeast is used to make dough rise.
- White granulated sugar
- Butter – The dough will be easier to knead if the butter is softened to room temperature.
- Flour – Use white all purpose flour or pastry flour for this recipe.
- Cardamom – Cardamom is a warm spice frequently used in Scandinavian cooking. It has a sweetish scent. It is also fairly expensive as spices go. But a small bottle will last a long time.
I make this filling with a classic Swedish filling. This consists of:
- Almond paste
- Brown sugar
These combine to make a delicious, sweet almond flavored filling. Note that in the U.S. almond paste is not the same thing as marzipan.
While both are made of almonds marzipan is sweeter and smoother than almond paste. Almond paste has a lot less sugar than marzipan and won’t hold a shape like marzipan.
Many recipes for Swedish Tea Ring use a different kind of filling, usually a combination of raisins, cinnamon and nuts. This makes the dessert more like a cinnamon roll.
Step by Step Instructions
1. Scald the Milk
First scald the milk. This means to put it in a sauce pan over medium heat until a skin forms on the top of the milk, at about 170 F.
The milk shouldn’t boil, take it off the heat when the skin forms and let it cool. A thermometer can be very helpful for scalding milk, or you can just watch for the skin to form on the milk.
Once the milk is scalded let it cool for about 10 minutes.
2. Mix the Dough
Dissolve 1 teaspoon of the sugar in the warm water and then stir in the yeast. Let the mixture sit until the yeast dissolves and starts to bubble.
In a large mixing bowl combine the softened butter, the rest of the sugar and the egg. Add the yeast mixture and the scaled milk.
Then stir in the cardamom, salt and add the flour a cup at a time until the dough is not sticky and is easy to handle.
3. Knead the Dough
Knead the dough until is is smooth, for about 5 minutes. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, like a Kitchen Aid, you can do the kneading in the mixer.
Once the dough is smooth put it in a greased bowl and cover it with a dish towel until it doubles. This will take about 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
4. Make the Filling
While the dough is rising prepare the filling. Mix the almond paste, brown sugar and softened butter in a small bowl.
It will be easier to mix in the almond paste if you cut it into small pieces first. Stir until the filling is nice and smooth.
5. Fill the Pastry
Once the dough is done rising roll it out into a rectangular shape, about 15 x 9 inches.
Then drop the filling by spoonfuls onto the dough rectangle, distributing the filling all over. The filling will probably be too thick to spread, so just distribute it evenly in small mounds.
Also don’t be tempted to add extra filling to the dough! If you add too much filling it will turn into a mess!
6. Shape the Wreath
Roll up the rectangle lengthwise very tightly and put it on a cookie sheet. Cover the cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Then make the log into a circle and squish the ends together. Use kitchen scissors to snip about 2/3 of the way through the ring at 1 inch intervals.
Take each snipped section and turn it slightly onto its side.
Cover the dough and let it rise for another hour. Then bake it in a preheated 350 F oven for about 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.
I give two options for decorating the Swedish Tea Ring in this recipe. One way is to make a buttercream frosting and pipe decorations onto the tea ring. This is what the pictures show and is perfect for Christmas!
The other option is to make a simple glaze with powdered sugar and drizzle it all over the tea ring. This is simpler and faster and still tastes amazing.
How to Serve
This tea ring is perfect for serving for Christmas dessert or for Christmas breakfast. But you don’t just have to make it for the holidays!
It makes a beautiful looking dessert any time of year. The pastry is flaky and tender and the sweet almond filling is delicious.
How to Store
Store this at room temperature tightly covered. The pastry will tend to dry out, so cover any leftovers as airtight as you can.
This is a dessert that is difficult to make ahead of time. The size and shape alone make it a poor candidate for freezing.
However you can make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate it after the first rising. It will keep 2-3 days in the refrigerator or 1 month in the freezer.
When you are ready to use it take it out and let it come to room temperature before rolling it out and filling. The filling can also be made ahead and refrigerated for 2-3 days or frozen for a 1 month.
Find More Holiday Desserts
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 1/4 teaspoon yeast
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 3 ¼ to 3 ½ cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup almond paste or one full block
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
Almond Buttercream Frosting or Almond Glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 4 Tablespoon butter, softened *for frosting, not needed if making almond glaze
- 1-3 teaspoons milk
- 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
- slivered almonds
- marashino cherries
- Heat milk to scalding, then allow to cool slightly.
- Dissolve 1 teaspoon of the sugar in warm water, then stir in yeast and allow it to dissolve and start to bubble.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, remaining sugar, and egg. Add the yeast mixture and the scalded milk.
- In a small bowl mix the flour with the salt and cardamom. Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time until dough is not sticky and is easy to handle.
- Knead dough until smooth, approximately 5 minutes. If you have a mixer with a dough hook you can use that. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a dish towel and let rise until doubled 1-1 ½ hours.
- While dough is rising, prepare the filling. In a small bowl, combine almond paste, brown sugar, and softened butter. The almond paste is easier to blend if you cut it into small pieces first.
- Once the dough has risen roll it into a rectangle about 15x9 inches.
- Drop small mounds of the filling all around the dough rectangle. It probably won't spread easily, so just drop it on the dough in small mounds.
- Roll the dough tightly lengthwise and place on ungreased cookie sheet or parchment paper. Form the dough log into a circle.
- Use kitchen scissors to snip 2/3 of the way through the ring at 1-inch intervals. Take each section and slightly turn it onto it's side.
- Set aside and allow dough to rise until double, about 1 hour.
- Bake the tea ring at 350° for 25-30 minutes.
- You can finish the dough off with either a buttercream frosting or a glaze. I've include instructions for both. Wait until the tea ring is completely cool before decorating it.
- Buttercream frosting (pictured) - In a small bowl combine the powdered sugar, softened butter, 2-3 teaspoons of milk, and almond extract until smooth. Whip it until it is smooth, creamy and spreadable. Use a pastry bag and a star tip to pipe the frosting onto the tea ring,
- Glaze - In a small bowl combine the powdered sugar, 3 teaspoons of milk and almond extract. Mix until no lumps remain. Then drizzle over the top of the tea ring.
- For either frosting or glaze sprinkle the tea ring with slivered almonds and decorate with drained marashino cherries.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 442Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 132mgCarbohydrates: 78gFiber: 3gSugar: 9gProtein: 11g
Nutrition facts are estimates.