The Background of Vetekrans
The literal translation of vetekrans is “Wheat Wreath”, although it’s more commonly referred to as Swedish Tea Ring. Vetekrans is a staple of Swedish coffee breaks ("fika", pronounced: "feekah") and is one of the better known pastries to originate from Scandinavia. For me, the dish holds special significance for being my Mother’s pastry of choice. As a child of mixed nationality I was exposed to a widely varied, primarily European, cuisine. Of all the pastries I’ve had, vetekrans stands out as one of the most memorable.
I find that the most handy description of vetekrans is that it’s similar to a cinnamon roll, although without frosting and generally more fancy. Unsurprisingly, it includes some ingredients that may be difficult to find in regular grocery stores outside of Scandinavia. Fortunately, none of them are mandatory, and there are plenty of equally delicious alternatives!
Without further ado, here is my mother’s recipe for vetekrans:
Step 1: Ingredients and Supplies
Time to make: 2.5 hours
Ingredients for the Dough:
- 1 Cup of Milk
- 3.5 Tablespoons of Butter
- 3 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
- 3 Tablespoons of Sugar
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Cardamom
- 1 Tablespoon Dry Yeast
Ingredients for filling and topping:
- 2 Tablespoons of Butter for spreading
- 5 Ounces of Almond Paste (Optional)
- 1/4 Cup of Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
- 1/3 Cup of Raisins
- An egg
- Poppy Seeds (Optional)
- Sliced Almonds (Optional)
- Rolling Pin
- Baking Sheet
- Kitchen Scissors
- Rubber Spatula
- Rubber Brush
- Bread Machine (Optional)
Step 2: Keep It Clean
Make sure to have a clean workspace before you begin, you’ll need a semi-large counter space to spread dough in. As always, make sure to clean your hands before you begin.
Step 3: Make the Dough
Compile the milk, butter, flour, sugar, salt, cardamom, and yeast. Now turn it all into dough.
I prefer to use a bread-machine, but if you'd like to make it by hand and don't know how, there's a handy guide for that here.
Step 4: Shape the Dough
At this point you should get the 2 tablespoons of spreading butter out of the refrigerator and let it warm to room temperature.
While you wait for that, dust your workspace with flour to prevent sticking and use your rolling pin to flatten the dough into a rectangle.It should be at least 2' by 1'; the bigger the better.
Step 5: Spread Butter on the Dough
Using your rubber spatula, spread the 2 tablespoons of room-temperature butter over your flattened dough. Try to get an even spread that covers all the edges.
The butter adds flavor and provides an adhesive for other ingredients to stick to.
Step 6: Add Cinnamon and Sugar
Sprinkle your 1/4 tablespoon of cinnamon and your 1/4 cup of sugar over the dough. Try to keep it as even as possible and cover the edges without spilling too much of it on your countertop.
The cinnamon and sugar are solely for flavor, you can use more or less than prescribed at your own discretion.
Step 7: Add Raisins (OPTIONAL)
Sprinkle your 1/3 cup of raisins over the dough. As usual, keep them as uniformly spread as you can.
Raisins add to the texture and flavor of the final product. Feel free to alter the amount used.
Step 8: Add Almond Paste (OPTIONAL)
Roll your 5 ounces of almond paste into a thin strand of about the same length as the dough, then place it near the far edge of the dough.
From my experience, almond paste is difficult to acquire in most of the United States, which is a shame, because it's delicious.
Almond paste is not a necessity to this recipe, although it does contribute a lot to the flavor.
Step 9: Form the Vetekrans
Roll up the dough as shown so that all the fillings are on the inside of a long roll. Then place the dough on your baking sheet and make the two ends meet so that you have a lovely little ring.
Step 10: Snip-Snip
Starting at any point on the ring, use your kitchen scissors to cut slits in the dough, dividing it into lots of small segments. While you're doing that, fold back the segments alternating them left and right as shown in the video.
Step 11: Let the Dough Rise
You need to let the yeast do some work now. Cover the vetekrans and let it sit for about 25 minutes.
Step 12: Spread Egg Paste Over the Vetekrans
At this point you should start preheating your oven to 425° F.
Take your egg and break its contents into a small container, a cup will do. If your container has a lid, put that on and give it a good shake, otherwise use your whisk to mix the egg into a yellow paste.
Once you've got your paste, use your rubber brush to spread it over the vetekrans. Don't be stingy, try to cover as much of the vetekrans as possible.
The egg paste helps glaze the vetekrans while it's in the oven and also provides something for toppings to stick to.
Step 13: Add Toppings (OPTIONAL)
Sprinkle your poppy seeds and almond slices over the vetekrans.
There are a large variety of toppings that can be used here, you could even use none at all, so feel free to ignore my suggestion and do some experimentation!
Step 14: Bake It in the Oven
Place your vetekrans in the oven at 425° F for about 8 to 14 minutes.
The third picture shows what it should look like when it's done.
Once you've taken the vetekrans out of the oven, cover it to keep it from drying out and give it some time to cool. After about 5 minutes it'll be cool enough to...
Step 15: Enjoy!
If you’ve done everything right, you should now have a delicious Swedish pastry. Divide the vetekrans into slices and serve with some coffee or a cold glass of milk.