Scandinavia. A historical and geographical region consisting of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark. Or as I like to think of it, SSOC – Shakespeare’s Setting Of Choice. Seriously, for someone who had probably never been to the place, a ridiculous number of his plays revolve around Norwegian and/or Danish politics. Those Scandinavians must have had a flair for the dramatic. Either that or these are the kinds of things that living in sub-zero temperatures for most of the year drive people to do. Basically what I mean to say here is that if you transport me to a place with an “alpine tundra climate”, I refuse to be held responsible for my actions. Consider yourself warned.
Okay, so from this we have learned that Scandinavians, at least in the 16th century, were cold, politically unstable, and potentially slightly insane. But what did they eat?
A lot of fish and meat, apparently, as well as beets, potatoes, cucumbers, and apples. The foods that our winter is made out of, essentially. Smoked salmon is possibly the most infamous (and, coincidentally, my favorite) of their contributions to the culinary world, with Swedish meatballs being a close second.
Never one to stay the beaten path, I did not choose to recreate either of this things. Oh no. “Joanne,” I said to myself. “Scandinavia is a land of epic proportions. The place of origin of the Vikings, the name Thor, and – possibly the most daunting of all – Ikea. No. For this Regional Recipes, you need to find a dish that will make the Scandinavians proud. Something absolutely and positively larger-than-life.”
The Swedish tea ring, which took the entirety of Saturday morning to make and ended up weighing as much as I do, was just that. It is essentially a cardamom-infused sweet dough that is jelly-rolled around a cinnamon/sugar/butter center and then washed with a heavenly glaze. Think of a cinnamon roll. The size of a 12-inch pizza pan. Sophie and I may be eating it indefinitely, which is not really such a bad thing since it is actually amazing and possibly one of the things I am proudest of making. Even more scary is the possibility that we will eat it all over the next 24 hours. A possibility that is becoming more and more likely every second.
Swedish Tea Ring
Serves about a gazillion, adapted from Baking and Books who got it from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
For the ring:
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water, about 105 degrees to 115 degrees F
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 slightly beaten eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
For the glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons hot coffee or milk
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in the 1/2 cup melted butter, 1/2 cup sugar, the eggs, salt, cardamom, and 4 cups flour until dough is smooth (it took about 5 1/2 cups of flour for my dough to achieve a smooth, soft texture). Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours. (I refrigerated mine for about 12 hours. When you take it out of the fridge the dough will be very firm and may break apart as you remove it from the bowl. This is normal, just remove all the pieces then gently press them back together. Allow the dough to rest on your counter top for about 20-30 minutes before proceeding.)
Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and roll out to make a 20×20 to 24×24 inch square. Spread with a thin layer of softened butter right to the edge. Mix 1/2 cup sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the butter. Sprinkle the almonds over the cinnamon sugar. Roll up as for a jelly roll. (Beginning with the bottom edge closest to you, gently roll the dough away from you, pinching the ends together to prevent cinnamon sugar from spilling out.)
Grease a baking sheet and place the roll on the sheet, shaping it into a ring. Pinch ends together to close the circle. With scissors, cut almost through the ring at 1/2 inch intervals. Turn each piece so that the cut side is exposed. Let rise until almost doubled (about 1 hour in a warm location).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until just golden. (I baked mine for 15 minutes, then rotated it in the oven and baked it for another 5 minutes). While the ring bakes, mix the glaze ingredients. Brush the ring while hot with the glaze.
This is my submission to Regional Recipes this month, which is being hosted HERE! The deadline is October 15th (by which I mean the 20th) so send your entries to email@example.com before then!
And remember, I am also hosting Presto Pasta Nights this week so get those submissions into me before Friday morning!