Orange and cardamom add warmth and cheer to the post-holiday months as part of this honey-sweetened tea ring. The tart red cranberry filling adds further sensory delight. Drizzle with orange glaze for an extra special treat on a chilly day.
Normally I don’t show my recipes in progress. But I thought it might be fun to make an exception and reveal an earlier version that didn’t make the cut. (Don’t worry–you can find the improved tea ring recipe at the end of this post.)
Tempting as it looked, the taste was not what I was hoping to achieve. My attempt to sweeten the filling naturally with dates and orange juice yielded a sticky, mushy texture that was edible but not particularly pleasant. Maybe I could call it several shades of “oops!”
However, I don’t like to waste food, so into the freezer went the rest. I ate the slices one by one, warming up a piece whenever I was too hungry to care about less-than-ideal filling. The orange cardamom bread was definitely worth repeating though.
In my next attempt, I went a different route and used honey butter to sweeten the filling. Red cranberry sauce replaced the dates, which made the tea ring both more colourful and more delicious. It’s also a great way to use up some lingering cranberries or cranberry sauce. (If you don’t have cranberry sauce, I think puréed cherry pie filling would be equally good as a sauce.)
In the end, those ribbons of red cranberries tucked into fresh cardamom sweet bread tasted heavenly all the way around. Furthermore, the light orange frosting accentuated the citrus and spice notes that were baked into the bread.
The final verdict: I can now heartily recommend this tea ring remake with two thumbs up!
Orange Cardamom Tea Ring with Cranberry Nut Filling
For the sweet dough:
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
- 3 1/4 cups unbleached flour
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 cup butter or coconut oil, melted
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
For the filling:
- 1 to 2 tablespoons butter, coconut oil, or vegan margarine
- 1 to 2 tablespoons pure honey
- 1/2 cup cranberry sauce or (cherry filling, puréed)
- 3 Tablespoons pecans or walnuts
For the optional glaze
- 1 Tablespoon orange juice
- 1/2 cup icing sugar (or raw sugar pulsed in a coffee blended until fine)
- Dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand for 5 minutes. Add honey or maple syrup and melted butter (or oil). Stir in salt, followed by eggs, then flour and spices. Knead until dough is smooth, gradually add small amounts of additional flour if necessary. Place dough in a large greased bowl. Cover bowl loosely and let rise until double.
- Line a baking sheet with greased parchment paper. Punch down dough. Lightly flour a flat surface and spread the dough onto it to form rectangle about the size of a baking sheet. Spread the dough with butter, leaving a 1 inch (3 cm) margin on all sides. Drizzle evenly with honey, and then sprinkle with nuts. Spread cranberry sauce (or other sauce) on top. Roll up lengthwise to form a log. Cut in half lengthwise, leaving about 3 inches (8 cm) on one end uncut. Braid the two halves and then bring the ends together to form a ring. Transfer the braided ring to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap or a damp tea towel. Let rise a second time for 40 to 60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Uncover dough and bake ring for about 50-60 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove baked ring from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare a thin frosting by whisking together orange juice and icing sugar. After the ring is mostly cooled, use a snipped plastic bag or small spoon to drizzle the ring with the icing. Or dust with icing sugar.
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