Christmas Breads are a favorite holiday fare in nearly every culture, and we love them all from stollen to panettone! However, our favorite sweet bread recipe has got to be the classic tea ring. We’ve included step by step instructions to make it easy to make this lightly spiced, decadently filled tea ring your favorite new holiday tradition!
This is NOT a quick bread recipe, FYI. However, filled with wholesome ingredients like fresh eggs and dried fruits, this Christmas Tea Ring is a holiday classic.
I’ve already written about how much I love renowned illustrator, Tasha Tudor, and her charming Tasha Tudor’s Cookbook – I extol its virtues in this post on how to make Warm Cheese Souffle. It was from Tasha that I first learned to how to make a Christmas Tea Ring.
She has several sweet bread recipes in her book, but this Tea Ring is our favorite. Tasha always shares a few insights and even history about each recipe, or receipt, as she calls them. (Here’s a fun little insight into her family and how she shared meals with them.)
I had to tweak some of the ingredients here and there to make it a little healthier for my family, but all in all, this sweet bread is rich and hearty and happy.
We’ve also used this recipe for a not-too-sweet 3 King’s Cake! The main problem with most King Cake recipes for our family is that they’re just too sweet. This tea ring makes a healthier substitution that is just as fun to use.
Sweet Bread Recipe for Christmas
We usually serve this Christmas night, but it would be appropriate any time around the holidays. It works well for both breakfast and dessert. This is a heavy egg bread that will fill your tummy – an ultimate comfort food. We’ve altered Tasha’s original recipe just a bit to make it a tad healthier, and we hope you’ll enjoy it!
Don’t let the ingredients list freak you out! If you can make bread, you can make this sweet bread recipe. A tea ring is basically nothing more than a yeast egg-bread dough stuffed with dried fruit. The most complicated tool you’ll use is a rolling pin.
You will need to allow the dough time to rise, but if you’re used to making bread, this won’t be new to you.
Sweet Bread Recipe for Christmas
Ingredients for Christmas Tea Ring
- 1/2 cup Lukewarm Milk
- 1/2 cup Coconut Sugar
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp. Mace
- 1 tsp. Nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
- 3 Tbs. Yeast
- 12 Fresh Egg Yolks Room temperature
- 3 cups Pastry Flour
- 2-3 cups Wheat Flour
- 1 tsp. Sea Salt
- 2 cups Softened Butter Cut into 1 inch slices
- 1 cup Marzipan Store bought or homemade
- 1/2 cup Mixed Raisins
- 1/2 cup Dried Cherries
- 1/2 cup Dried Apricots and/or Pineapple
- 3 Tbs. Candied Citrus Peel
- 1/2 cup Fair Trade Chocolate Chips Optional
- 1/2 cups Toasted Pecans Optional
Ingredients for Lemon Glaze
- Zest from 2 Lemons
- 1 cup Powdered Coconut or Rapadura Sugar
- 2-3 tbsp. Milk or Cream Enough to make finish glaze
Instructions for Christmas Tea Ring Dough
- In a large bowl, combine warm milk, coconut sugar, vanilla and spices. Add the yeast and whisk in rapidly. Beat in the egg yolks.
- Mix 3 to 4 cups of flour with the sea salt. Add to milk mixture in one cup increments. If you have a stand mixer, use it now to start working in the flour. Otherwise, mix dough as long as you can with a strong spoon and then turn out the dough onto a floured surface to knead and work in more flour.
- Continue to add flour until the dough is no longer sticky. If you're using a stand mixer, the dough will be finished when it clears the side of the bowl. Be careful not to add too much flour or your dough will be dry. You'll know the dough is done when it has a bit of a shine to it and holds an indent when you press your finger into it.
- Roll the dough into a ball and place it into a buttered dish and cover it with a damp towel. Find a draft free, warm place for your dough to rise for around an hour, or until it doubles in side. I usually use my dehydrator to keep the temperature around 90F/32C.
- After it rises, knead the dough briefly and divide the dough into 2 pieces. Roll them into logs and let them rest for a few minutes while you prepare the filling.
Instructions for Filling and Fruits
- Cream the marzipan with 1 cup of butter until thoroughly mixed.
- Roll your logs into large, flat rectangles - like you would if you were making cinnamon rolls. Spreade marzipan mixture over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the fruits, chips and nuts.
- Roll the dough up lengthwise and pinch the edges closed (again, like you would for cinnamon rolls). Shape each length into a ring and secure the ends.
- Put the rings onto a large baking sheets about six inches apart. Slash the tops with a sharp knife or scissors and brush the tops with melted butter. Cover them and raise them for another hour, or until they double in size.
- Preheat oven to 350F/176C. Bake the rings until they brown on top, usually about 30 minutes. You can make six rings, if you prefer, instead of two. The bake time will vary a lot depending on how many rings you decide to make and how big they are. You want enough air flow around your tea rings so, if you need to use two pans, go right ahead. Bake them one or two at a time, removing the done ones and allowing them to cool.
- When they're entirely cool, frost Tea Rings with the powdered coconut sugar and enough milk to make a glaze. You'll know it's the right consistency when the sugar is dissolved and the glaze is drippable/pourable but not runny. We usually omit the glaze since it makes it a bit too sweet for us. However, it IS super tasty with the glaze - the coconut sugar makes a great maple-flavored frosting.
To Use as a King Cake
If you’re going to use this recipe for a 3 King’s Day celebration, be sure to inset a foil-wrapped coin or a heat-resistant novelty like a ceramic baby Jesus before you bake it.
Right after you slit the dough for final rise, nestle the trinket somewhere inside the filling and push down to be sure it’s secure.
To learn more about 3 King’s Day, and many other holidays around the world and the calendar year, please checkout our book Homestead Holidays below.
FYI, this recipe is featured in our newest book, Homestead Holidays! Grab your copy of the book for holiday celebrations around the year with family and friends.
Unique Holiday & Sweet Bread Recipes
Just in case you need a few other Christmas sweet bread recipes, here are a few to consider.
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