Swedish Tea Ring Coffee Bread
Swedish Tea Ring Coffee Bread

This Swedish tarring is a lightly sweet yeast bread flavored with cardamom. It’s a nice centerpiece for Swedish fika (coffee time).

A reader of Simply Recipes recently informed me that Swedish coffee bread (pastry wreath or tarring) is a Christmas tradition in Sweden, along with Swedish meatballs and other treats served on Christmas Eve.

Wouldn’t you be fascinated by this kind of intro? Sara sent me her 40 year old recipe for this cardamom flavored yeast bread and I’ve made three batches now (with a few recipe changes on my part). Incidentally, this pastry wreath is known both as “teering” and as “coffee bread”. It contains neither tea nor coffee but is a nice pastry to enjoy with either coffee or tea.

Sara tells me that the bread is usually braided and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, but she likes to roll it up like a jelly roll and form a wreath. Cardamom is the main spice in the dough, but pretty much anything goes for the filling. She recommends raisins, cinnamon sugar, and slivered almonds. Small dollops of almond paste in the filling are also very nice.

I’ve made the bread both ways, simply braided and stuffed and formed into a wreath and all the breads were great. You can get creative with this one. Sara also made it with a cream cheese filling, with a little sugar, egg yolk and a dash of vanilla, then she added some diced apples or peaches.

Make a Swedish tar ring in advance

Since this recipe makes two rings of tea, you can eat one and freeze one for later. Cool the bread completely, then wrap in plastic and then back in foil before freezing. When ready to eat, thaw at room temperature. You can easily reheat it in the microwave or in an oven at 350°F for about 10 minutes.

For a multi-day baking process, form the dough a day in advance and let the second course rise in the fridge overnight. Cover your proofer with greased plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. Alternatively, you can freeze your shaped, uncooked bread 1 month in advance. Make sure it’s well protected from the elements and let it thaw and rise at room temperature on the counter before baking.

Adjustments to try

Here are some variations suggested by our wonderful readers!

  • Make the teardrop ring without the glaze
  • Use pearl sugar with the egg wash
  • Scatter red hot candies over the frosting
  • Add lemon zest and a touch of lemon extract to the batter, dried blueberries and cranberries to the filling, and another touch of lemon to the glaze.
  • For a festive look, decorate with green and red maraschino cherries, alternating between top of ring before frosting
  • Use cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice in the dough instead of cardamom
  • Try a raspberry cream cheese filling
  • Fill with cinnamon and sugar

Forms of tea loaves

If you want to bake a braid, you can easily do it. If you’ve ever braided hair, it’s a similar process. First divide your dough into 3 equal parts. Form each into a long rope. Then lay the 3 strands next to each other. Press the 3 of them together on top.

Next, take the right strand and pass it over the middle strand. It now becomes the middle strand! Then take the left strand and pull it over the middle strand. Now it becomes the middle strand. Repeat this alternating right to left until the whole braid is braided. Then pinch the other end. Voila! you have a braid Align the strands and pin the end down if you like.

At this point you can leave it as a long loaf or pin the braided loaf end to end to make a braided ring. Then, cover and let the loaves rise in a warm place for at least 45 minutes before baking. Are you a visual person? A video might help.

If you’re short on time or energy, simply shape into long rectangles, or pour into 2 greased and floured loaf tins and allow to rise. Bake them like any other bread.

More recipes perfect for afternoon coffee

  • Pumpkin cheesecake bars with crumble topping
  • Classic coffee cake
  • Fresh apple ring cake
  • Plum and Walnut Skillet Cake
  • Blueberry Buckle

From the editors of Simply Recipes

Swedish tar ring (coffee bread)

preparation time
30 minutes

cooking time
25 minutes

wake up time:
100 minutes

total time
2 hrs 35 mins

12 servings

2 wreaths

It’s best to start with whole cardamom pods. Shell the pods (it helps to mash them first) to release the seeds. Crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle or use a rolling pin to grind them up.


For the bread dough:

  • 1 Cup whole milk

  • 1/2 cup (100G) White sugar

  • 1/2 cup (113g) butter

  • 2 Packages (14g) active yeast, dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water

  • About 4 cups (560G) all purpose flour

  • 1 big egg

  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt

  • 1 teaspoon floor cardamom

For the filling (if making a wreath):

  • 2 tablespoon melted butter

  • 1/4 cup (54G) packed up Brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon White sugar

  • 2 teaspoon Cinammon

  • 1 Cup golden raisinsOptional

  • 1/2 Cup slivers of almondsOptional

  • 1/4 Cup almond pasteOptional

For the egg glaze:

  • 2 egg yolk

  • 2 tablespoon cream

For the (optional) icing:

  • 1 cup (115G) powdered sugar

  • 1 tablespoon water


Make the dough:

  1. Heat the milk, add the butter and sugar, then the yeast and the egg:

    Pour milk into a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until steaming (but not boiling). Take off the heat. Stir in the butter and sugar until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Pour into a mixing bowl. Mix in the yeast mixture and the egg.

  2. Add the spices, then gradually add the flour:

    Mix in the salt and cardamom. Slowly add 2 cups of flour. After the first 2 cups, gradually add more flour until a soft dough forms into a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl.

  3. Knead the dough:

    Turn out onto a floured surface and knead the dough for 7 to 10 minutes until smooth OR knead the dough with a dough hook in a stand mixer for 7 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed to keep the dough from becoming too sticky. Note: The dough should stay soft, so don’t add too much flour.

  4. Let the dough rise and double in size:

    Place the dough in an oiled bowl covered with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap. Let rise for an hour or until dough has doubled in size.

  5. Make 2 simple braids or form 1 filled wreath:

    At this point you can make a simple braided bread if you like (2 loaves) by flipping the dough down, dividing the dough in half and then dividing each half into 3 equal parts, rolling the pieces of dough into strands, them braid and pin the ends down.

    Or you can go a little fancier, like we did here, with a filling and shaping the dough into a ring shape. The instructions below are for the wreath mold.

To form the wreath:

  1. Divide the dough into 2 rectangles and flatten:

    Press the dough down to deflate it a bit. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Take one section (save the other for wreath number 2) and use your fingers to spread it out into an 8 x 16 inch rectangle on a lightly floured, clean, flat surface.

    If you’re having trouble getting the dough to hold its shape, just do what you can and let it rest for 5 minutes before trying again. Like pizza dough, the dough needs time to relax as you shape it.

    Brush the dough with melted butter, leaving at least a 1/2 inch border around the edges to help the dough stick together as you roll.

  2. Make the filling and fill the dough:

    Mix together the brown and white sugars and cinnamon and sprinkle half of the mixture over the batter (save the other half for the second batch of batter).

    Sprinkle other fillings like raisins, almond slivers or almond paste on top as you like. You can even sprinkle some cream cheese on top for a creamier filling.

  3. Gently roll the dough and form a ring:

    Carefully roll up the dough lengthwise, seam side down. Place carefully onto a greased baking sheet. Form a circle with the dough on the baking sheet and connect the ends to form a ring.

  4. Cut the dough and form the wreath:

    Use scissors to cut most of the way through the dough, cutting at an angle as you go. Work your way around the circle of dough. After each cut, alternately pull out the piece of dough to the right or left. The circle of dough will look like a wreath when you’re done.

    Repeat the steps with the rest of the dough to form a second ring.

  5. Let the shaped dough rise:

    Cover the wreaths lightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for a second rise. Let rise for about 40 minutes to an hour; the dough should puff up again.


  1. Preheat the oven:

    Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. Brush the dough with egg yolk and bake:

    Whisk together the egg yolk and cream. Brush over the dough with a pastry brush. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. If the top is well browned after the first 15 minutes of baking, cover with some aluminum foil.

  3. Let cool, then drizzle with optional glaze:

    Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

    Meanwhile, whisk together the powdered sugar and water to make a final glaze (optional). Add more water if the frosting is too thick to drizzle, add more powdered sugar if the frosting is too runny. Drizzle the glaze over the batter in a back-and-forth motion.

nutritional information (per serving)
357 calories
13g Fat
52g carbohydrates
8g protein
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