Swedish Tea Ring

This pastry is what most of us would call a coffeecake. In Swedish, that’s kaffebröd, but Swedes call this pastry fikabröd. Fika means making time for friends and colleagues to share a cup of coffee (or tea) and a little something to eat. Many Swedes consider it essential to make time for fika every day. This ritual has become institutionalized; even Volvo plants stop for fika. As companions to such warm conviviality, tea rings find their way onto many tables on Christmas mornings. This recipe is quite basic. Adding candied fruits, maraschino cherries, and nuts along with the glaze is a nice touch.

In a large bowl, dissolve 2 packets of yeast in a cup of warm milk mixed with a quarter cup each sugar and melted butter. Add 2 eggs, lightly beaten, a teaspoon salt, and a cup of AP flour. Beat until smooth. Gradually add additional flour to make a soft dough. Turn out on a floured surface and knead until smooth. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour or so. Mix a half cup each chopped walnuts and raisins—with a half cup packed brown sugar and a heaping tablespoon of cinnamon, and enough melted butter to moisten. Punch the dough down, roll into an 18×12 inch rectangle, and sprinkle with the nut/raisin mixture to within about a half an inch of the edges. Starting with the long side, roll up, and pinch seam to seal. Place seam side down on an oiled cookie sheet or pizza pan, and pinch ends together to form a ring. With scissors, cut from outside edge two-thirds of the way toward center of ring at 1 in. intervals. Separate strips slightly, and twist lightly. Cover and let rise until doubled, at least an hour. Bake at 350 until golden brown, about 30 mins. Cool on a wire rack, and drizzle with a glaze made from powdered sugar and enough milk to make a thick syrup.

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