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Cinnamon Tea Ring
A Family Tradition
I learned how to make this tea ring recipe from my mother-in-law many years ago. It was a family tradition in their family and she would make tea ring every Christmas and Easter eve to serve at breakfast the following day. After she passed away, I became the tea ring maker of the family until my marriage ended.
We did a lot of canning and baking this year for the holidays. My daughter, who'll be getting married this year, was helping me and as we were cooking, we were discussing family traditions. I wondered if she remembered the tea ring from her childhood. I decided to make tea ring again this year. It is part of her father's family tradition, and I hope that she will continue this tradition in the future.
This recipe makes a BIG batch of tea ring. Four tea ring that will fit into an 8" to 9" cake pan. I used the disposable aluminum pans because they were easy to wrap and transport for gift giving, but you can use the traditional metal or glass baking pans as well.
8-9 cups All Purpose Flour
2 packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup butter
1 tsp salt
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
2-3 TBSP ground cinnamon
2/3 cup butter (melted)
1 cup raisins (optional)
2 TBSP butter melted
1/4 cup milk
3 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
Making the Dough
In a large mixing bowl, combine 4 cups of flour and the yeast. Mix and set aside. In a saucepan, heat the milk, granulated sugar, 2/3 cup butter and salt until warm and the butter almost melts. Don't get it too hot otherwise you'll kill your yeast. About 120 - 130 degrees F is good. If it gets too hot, no worries. Turn the flame off, allow it to cool, and when it's in this temp range, you're ready to continue. Add this mixture to the flour/yeast mixture along with the 4 eggs and beat with an electric mixer (or my hand is okay too.). Scrape the bowl and beat on high for about 3 minutes more. Now, using a wooden spoon, add in the remainder of the flour (about 4 cups) until you have a soft dough.
You Kneaded Me - Working the Dough
Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Knead in enough flour to make a medium soft dough that's smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball. Use a stick of butter to rub on the inside of a large bowl. You want to coat the sides to keep the dough from sticking. When it's all coated *uses about 1 TBSP butter *, place the dough in the greased bowl and turn it over once to grease the surface (this keeps it soft during the rising process).
Okay, now here's an optional tip. Although this is not an Armenian recipe, my Armenian grandparents, and later my mom, taught me that whenever you put dough on to rise, you put it in the greased bowl, and using the side of your hand (like a karate chop position), you push your hand into the dough and make the sign of the cross in it. This is basically like asking God to bless your endeavors. I do this every time I bake with yeast and my dough always rises. : )
Cover your dough with a tea towel and place in a warm, draft-free area until it's double in size about 1 1/2 hours.
Baking Stuff I love
Springform pans are great for making tea ring as well as cheesecake
Now here's the fun part - making the rolls
Punch down the dough and divide it up into 4 equal balls. Place on a lightly floured surface and just let it rest about 10 minutes. Spray your 4 cake pans with PAM or cooking spray. and set aside. Gather together your melted butter, brown sugar, raisins, and cinnamon and a clean pair of scissors.
Start with the first ball of dough. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 12 x 8 inches. Wider is fine. It doesn't have to be exact. Use your fingers to manipulate the shape, pulling into submission. ; )
Pour a couple tablespoons of the melted butter on your dough, and follow it with a generous sprinkling of brown sugar and then cinnamon. If you'd like to add raisins, now is the time to sprinkle them all around. (You can also add walnuts or pecans if you'd like, but I didn't this time around).
Starting at the side closest to you, start rolling up the dough with the filling, like a jelly roll - away from you. Carefully lift the roll and shape into a ring in your cake pan keeping the seam side down. Tuck the ends into each other.
Using a clean pair of scissors or cooking shears, carefully cut from the outside of the ring toward the center. Do not cut all the way through the center. Leave the center of the tea ring attached. Continue cutting all the way around the tea ring 8-9 times. Gently hold the cut section and turn in it carefully to the side.
Baking and icing your tea ring
Once you've created all four of your tea rings, cover and let rise in a warm place til doubled (about a 1/2 hour). In the meantime, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the surface of each tea ring with melted butter before baking. Bake each tea ring for about 30 minutes or until the tea ring is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool before icing.
Melt 2 Tbsp butter along with a Tbsp of milk or half an half. Sift powdered sugar. Pour butter/milk mixture into sifted powdered sugar and using a whisk, mix together. Add a small amount of vanilla extract. Add more powdered sugar if needed to create a drizzle consistency icing.
Using a spoon, drizzle the icing in patterns around and over the tea ring. Cover with aluminum foil to store until you're ready to serve or wrap for gift giving.
To serve, keep foil cover on and heat in 350 degree oven until soft and heated.