img_5607I have been thinking about my mom alot this past week and as usual most of my fondest memories of her are of spending time in the kitchen with her.  It seemed that almost everything we did in my family involved food and being in the kitchen.  A cherished food memory of my mother was her Swedish Tea Ring.  It was a special treat and although it was one of her signature desserts she only made it a few times a year so it was indeed very special to us.

img_5606As always it seemed like it took ages for it to be ready and I would sit at the kitchen table reading my moms cookbooks while she made the dough and set it aside to proof and I would constantly ask her when it would be ready.  When the dough finally had risen she would roll it out and spread the date-nut filling on it and roll and shape the ring.  Then began the long wait for the second proof and again I would pester her about when it would be ready.  Finally it went into the oven and the kitchen would fill with the wonderful aroma of baking dough and dates and sugar.  Finally it came out of the oven and we were warned not to touch it until it was cool, which always seemed to take an eternity.  Them my mom would make the confectioners sugar glaze and drizzle it all over the top, sprinkle it with chopped nuts and decorate it with cherries.  Finally, after what seemed like eons we were able to have a slice.  It never failed to thrill us.  In homage to my mom I decided to make her tea ring.

img_5598The tea ring is really nothing more than a yeasted sweet roll dough filled with the filling of your choice and shaped into the ring.  This is my mom recipe.  She always used a date-nut filling which is what I have chosen to use her but I have included a few other options.

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img_5600SWEET ROLL DOUGH

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 1150)
1/4 cup lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled) 1,4 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening, or margarine or butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Stir in milk, sugar, shortening, 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 in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 11/2 hours. (Dough is ready if an indentation remains when touched.)

Punch down dough. Shape, let rise and bake as directed.

*If using self-rising flour, omit salt.
Do-ahead Tip: After kneading, dough can be covered and refrigerated in greased bowl no longer than 4 days.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll 1/2 Sweet Roll Dough into rectangle, 15×9 inches, on lightly floured surface. Spread with desired filling. Roll up tightly, beginning at 15-inch side. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal well. Stretch roll to make even. With sealed edge down, shape into ring on lightly greased cookie sheet. Pinch ends together. With scissors, make cuts 2/3 of the way through ring at 1-inch intervals. Turn each section on its side. Let rise until double, about 40 minutes.

Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. (If tea ring browns too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil.) Spread ring with Glaze and decorate as desired.

DATE FILLING

1 cup finely chopped dates
1/4 cup Sugar
1/3  cup water
1/3 cup coarsely chopped nuts

Cook dates, sugar and water over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir in nuts; cool.
GLAZE

Mix 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until glaze is smooth and of desired consistency.

Optional Fillings
APRICOT-CHERRY FILLING

Mix 1/2 cup finely cut-up dried apricots and 1/2 cup finely chopped maraschino cherries, drained on paper towels.

CINNAMON-RAISIN FILLING

2 tablespoons margarine or butter, softened 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and 1/2 cup raisins.
Spread butter over rectangle; sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins.

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