This Swedish tea ring tastes just like cinnamon rolls, but prettier, and is fantastic if you're serving a crowd. Best of all, it tastes amazing with all the cinnamon sugar goodness inside!
You won't need a lot of ingredients to make this Swedish tea ring! Let's talk about each key ingredient you'll need.
- Bread Flour: This type of flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose, which creates more gluten in the dough, giving the bread a higher rise and better texture.
- Yeast: I like to use fast-action or instant yeast because that allows me to skip the 10-minute proofing in warm water and sugar that active dry yeast requires.
- Cardamom: This spice is one of the key flavorings in this sweet bread. Use freshly ground green cardamom pods for the very best flavor and aroma.
See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
How to Make
Gather the ingredients for the Swedish tea ring.
- Pour the bread flour into a mixing bowl and stir in the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl.
- Sprinkle in the cardamom and sugar. Add the two eggs and the melted butter, then stir to combine.
3. Gradually trickle in the warm milk and mix until no flour remains on the bottom of the bowl and a slightly sticky dough has formed.
4. Knead on a floured surface for 10-15 minutes, until it is no longer sticky and passes the windowpane test. See the recipe card below to learn the windowpane test.
5. Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let it prove in a warm place until at least doubled in size. This should take about 1 ½ hours.
6. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together. Once the dough has doubled in size, knock out the air pockets and roll it out into a large rectangle. Spread it with the butter, cinnamon sugar mixture, and the chopped walnuts. Lightly press the nuts into the dough so they don't shift too much when it is rolled up.
7. Roll up the dough, starting from one of the long sides. Firmly pinch the seam and ends to seal, then tightly squeeze together the ends of the log to create a circle.
8. Place the wreath onto a large baking stone and use a clean pair of kitchen shears to snip the wreath every inch or so all the way around. Cut about ⅔ of the way through the circle. Fan out the slices, laying them one on top of each other to display the pretty swirls.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the loaf prove until it springs back quickly to the touch, about 35-45 minutes. Brush the top and sides of the bread (not the swirled part) with beaten egg and sprinkle generously with pearl sugar.
9. Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes, then bake at 375°F for 13-15 minutes. The loaf should be well browned and have an internal temperature of 190°F. Let it cool completely on a wire rack.
10. Serve in slices with tea or coffee.
Swedish tea ring is a wreath-like yeast bread filled with butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and walnuts. It is typically decorated with sliced almonds and pearl sugar instead of a glaze like American cinnamon rolls. The Swedes serve it at Christmas with coffee.
The origins of this bread are unknown, but it may have been a variation of the traditional Swedish kanelkrans, which means "cinnamon circle" in English.
Wondering what to serve with this Swedish tea ring? Make sure to make a cup of coffee using one of Sweden's favorite coffee brewing methods. Or, you can brew some java using the French press method, moka pot method, or pour over method.
Looking for some other Swedish treats? You'll definitely want to try our kardemummabullar and kanellängd. If it's close to St. Lucia Day (December 13), make sure to try these beautiful St. Lucia buns.
Looking for other sweet breads to make? You'll definitely want to try our recipes for cinnamon breads, like pecan sticky rolls. Our Hawaiian sweet rolls and Japanese milk bread rolls can be enjoyed with sweet or savory toppings.
- Storage: Keep the cooled bread sealed in a plastic bag at room temperature and eat on the same day of baking.
- Freezing: If you want to store it longer than 1 day, freeze the bread in a zip-top freezer bag or airtight container for up to 1 month.
- Defrost: Microwave individual slices for 15-30 seconds or leave at room temperature until thawed.
- Scald the milk. While pasteurized milk doesn't need to be scalded to kill bacteria, it warms up the milk nicely, helping the bread rise faster. Make sure to let the milk cool to 115°F before using, or the hot temperature could kill the yeast.
- In a hurry? Make it ahead of time. Cover the bowl of dough tightly and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours, and it will do its first prove in the fridge. Just note that it will take longer to rise the second time.
- Want to speed up the proving time? Place it in a cold oven and put a pan of boiling water on the shelf below it. Shut the oven door to trap the steam inside. This will create a warm and humid atmosphere, encouraging the yeast to work.
- Watch the loaf carefully as it bakes. It can brown very quickly at high temperatures. Be especially watchful if you're baking the bread on a pan without sides; sometimes, buttery fillings can melt and drip off the pan, causing an oven fire.
- Let the loaf cool completely before slicing. Freshly baked bread is full of steam, and needs time to finish cooking through the middle. Cutting it too soon will release the steam prematurely, making the bread gummy and doughy.
Other Scandinavian Bread Recipes
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Swedish Tea Ring
For the Dough
For the Filling
- 3 tablespoons salted butter, softened
- ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
For the Topping
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 3 tablespoons pearl sugar
Making the Dough
- Scald the milk by bringing to a boil over medium heat. Let it cool to 115 F before using.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in the microwave and let it cool slightly. Measure out the other ingredients.
- Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl, adding the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl. Mix each one in with your finger.
- Stir in the sugar and ground cardamom, then add the eggs and melted butter. Mix until a dough forms, then gradually add the milk and mix until no flour remains in the bowl.
- Knead until smooth, about 10-15 minutes. Check to see if it is kneaded enough by doing the windowpane test. Break off a lump and stretch it between the thumb and forefinger of each hand to create a windowpane shape. The dough should stretch to be translucent without breaking; if it does, knead for a minute longer and check again.
- Shape into a tight ball, place in a buttered bowl, and set aside to prove in a warm place until at least doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Shaping the Tea Ring
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch it down all over to knock out the air pockets. Use a rolling pin to shape it into a 13x17 inch rectangle.
- Spread the softened butter on top with a pastry brush or angled spatula. Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon, then spread evenly over the buttered dough. Scatter the chopped walnuts on top, pressing them in lightly.
- Tightly roll up the dough from one of the long sides to create a log. Pinch the seam and ends to seal, then shape the log into a circle and firmly squeeze the ends together. Place the wreath on a large baking stone or parchment-lined cookie sheet.
- Use clean kitchen shears to snip just over halfway through the log every inch or so. Once you've gone all the way around, lean the slices over and fan them out to display the swirled interior.
- Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to prove. The dough is ready to bake when it springs back quickly when gently prodded with a fingertip.
- About 10 minutes before it is ready, preheat the oven to 400 F.
Decorating & Baking the Tea Ring
- Once the tea ring has proved, brush the top of each swirl and the inside of the circle with beaten egg. There's no need to egg wash the swirled part of the bread. Sprinkle generously with pearl sugar.
- Bake the bread at 400 F for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 375 F and bake for 13-15 minutes, until the bread is well browned and has an internal temperature of at least 190 F on a meat thermometer. Watch the bread carefully and cover with a sheet of foil if it's getting too dark.
- Let the bread cool for 10 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack and allow it to cool completely before slicing and serving.
- Use bread flour. A loaf made with all-purpose flour won't rise as high or be as soft and fluffy.
- Make ahead. Cover the bowl of kneaded dough and refrigerate overnight. Shape the loaf the next day.
- Slow rising dough? Place the dough in a cold oven and put a pan of boiling water on the shelf beneath it.
- Check the loaf as it bakes. Cover it with foil if the crust is getting too dark.
- Let the bread cool completely before eating to allow it to finish cooking in the middle.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.