Our flavorful Swedish Tea Ring is fit for any celebration or holiday! This tea ring features a tender enriched dough filled with a creamy almond paste and apricot filling—it doesn’t get better than this tea ring!
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Why We Love this Recipe
This holiday recipe is both humble and absolutely stunning. The base of the bread is an enriched dough that gets filled with an apricot mixture inspired by a recipe I developed for A Kringle in Cuisine at Home Magazine.
The bread is decadent and celebratory and can be served with savory sides like quiche, bacon, and cheesy eggs, or simply enjoyed with coffee or espresso. It’s a real treat.
What is a Swedish Tea Ring?
The Swedish Tea Ring is a yeasted pastry bread or braid often enjoyed with coffee or tea on Christmas eve.
We like to think of it as a more balanced, not-so-cloyingly-sweet cinnamon roll. The focus is on the delicious yeasted bread and flavorful filling.
Typically, cardamom spices the dough while the filling can range from cinnamon sugar and sliced almonds to dried fruit or dollops of almond paste. Cream cheese and fresh fruit are also a common filling. Feel free to play around with the shaping and filling of this coffee bread—it’s forgiving!
Make Ahead Notes
This recipe makes two Swedish Tea Rings which can be baked together or separately. There are a variety of ways you can prep and/or bake these ahead of time.
Freeze Unbaked Tea Ring
Transfer the shaped ring (prepared through the shaping and slicing) to a large plate and wrap in two layers of plastic and then foil. (Unbaked ring can be frozen for up 1 month).
The night prior to baking, transfer the frozen ring to the refrigerator. The following day, when ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200ºF (93ºC); when the oven has come to temperature turn it off.
Unwrap and transfer the ring to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Transfer the ring to the oven and allow it to rise (in turned off oven) as directed. Brush ring with egg wash and bake on middle rack as directed.
Freeze Baked Tea Ring
Bake the tea ring(s) as directed and allow them to cool completely. Once cooled, transfer to a plate and wrap tightly in plastic and then foil. Freeze the baked tea ring for up to 1 month.
Defrost overnight in the refrigerator or for a few hours at room temperature. Reheat the tea ring in a 300ºF (149ºC) oven for about 10 minutes.
Prep Ahead and Refrigerate
The tea rings can be prepared and shaped up to 1 day ahead of time. Cover the shaped ring(s) with plastic wrap then transfer to the refrigerator and allow to proof overnight. Brush with eggwash and bake as directed when ready.
- Skip the apricot jam and dried apricots and add raisins, confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar) or brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to the cream cheese filling. Toasted and chopped walnuts or pecans would also be a great addition.
- Swap out the almond paste, apricot jam, and dried apricots for dried blueberries and lemon zest. Use lemon juice instead of milk in the glaze and add a bit of minced lemon zest.
- Skip the icing and instead sprinkle pearl sugar over the ring before baking.
- Sprinkle sliced almonds over the egg-washed braid right before baking.
- Try a stollen-inspired filling like we used in these Stollen Biscotti.
Yes, you can substitute active dry and instant yeast 1:1. Active dry yeast generally needs to be rehydrated in warm water or milk before getting mixed with the flour. It’s also slightly slower at activating than instant dry yeast, which can be mixed right in with the dry ingredients.
If you’re making a bread or yeasted baked good that requires a long rise time (2+ hours) then the active dry yeast usually catches up in to instant yeast by the end of proving.
If a recipe, such as this one, calls for instant yeast but you’re using active dry yeast, add about 15 additional minutes of proving time for every hour noted in the recipe instructions. That being said, the best rule of thumb, is to monitor the rising of your dough visually, not by time. Use time as a guide, and visual cues as the rule.
We recommend making the dough and forming the rings 1 day in advance. Cover the shaped rings with plastic wrap then transfer to the refrigerator and allow to proof overnight. Then Christmas morning, remove the rings from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature while the oven preheats. Brush the rings with egg wash and bake as directed. Here are detailed instructions on making this Swedish tea ring ahead of time.
There are a couple of options! You can bake both and give away one of them. Or you freeze the second ring. Here are instructions for making ahead and freezing.
Watch How to Make It
Swedish Tea Ring with Apricot-Almond Filling
- 4 ½ cups (552g) all-purpose flour + extra for rolling
- 2 ¼ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast (one ¼ oz. package)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 ⅓ cups (320g) warm whole milk (110ºF/43ºC)
- 8 tablespoons (113g) (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- ⅓ cup (115g) honey
- 3 large egg yolks (whites reserved for topping)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 (8-ounce) tube almond paste
- ½ cup (145g) apricot jam or preserves
- 4 ounces (113g) cream cheese, softened
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (147g) diced dried apricots
- 1 ½ cups (150g) confectioners’ sugar
- 2 ounces (58g) cream cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch kosher salt
- Adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 200ºF (93ºC). Once oven comes up to temperature, turn oven off. Lightly grease a large bowl with nonstick spray. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Mix flour, yeast, and salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook.
- Whisk together 1 ⅓ cups milk, melted butter, honey, yolks, and 2 teaspoons vanilla in large measuring cup.
- Turn mixer to low speed and slowly add milk mixture. Once dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, about 6 minutes. (Dough will be sticky.)
- Turn dough onto heavily floured work surface, shape into a ball, and transfer to greased bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place in turned-off oven, with door open, until dough is nearly doubled in size, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, for the filling, add almond paste, jam, and 4 ounces cream cheese to a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add diced apricots and mix on low just to combine, about 10 seconds. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until ready to use.
- On lightly floured surface, divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll dough into 18✕9-inch rectangle; long side facing you.
- Spread half of filling in 2-inch-wide strip just above bottom edge of dough.
- Roll dough away from you into tight log (brush away any excess flour from dough as you roll).
- Brush top edge with water, then press to seal and transfer, seam side down, to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
- Trim ½-inch of dough off ends of roll, then form each roll into ring.
- Using sharp knife (or scissors), make cuts, ¾ of the way through the log, all around outside of dough every 1 ½ inches (11 total cuts).
- Gently rotate each section of dough cut side up (twist each section in same direction).
- Cover with plastic wrap coated with cooking spray or clean kitchen towel; return to oven until rings have puffed slightly, 45–50 minutes. Remove from oven and heat oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
- Whisk a reserved egg white in small bowl (reserve rest for another use), then brush rings with egg white. Bake until deep brown, 23–25 minutes, switching and rotating pans halfway through baking. Transfer sheets to wire rack and cool.
- Meanwhile, whisk confectioners’ sugar, remaining 2 ounces cream cheese, 1 tablespoon milk, ½ teaspoon vanilla, and salt in small bowl until smooth. Drizzle icing over baked coffee cakes and serve warm.
The dough for this recipe is adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.
This recipe article was originally published on December 13, 2021.
if skipping the apricot jam and dried apricots in the filling for confectioners sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, do you still use almond paste?
I would still use the almond paste—it adds flavor, texture and bulks up the filling. I would do 7 ounces almond paste, 4 ounces cream cheese, and 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar. Let me know how it goes!
Holy Moly I didn’t know I was capable of making something so beautiful! Everyone thought this Tea Ring was from a local bakery that has amazing pastries. I let them know I MADE IT. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe! You made me feel like a kitchen super star.