These are a tradition in my family-big time. I grew up with my mom delivering tea rings to neighbors and friends in Moab at Christmastime. For years I got out of making them myself and just let my older sisters produce them and deliver to my house. However, moving back east has made me really homesick, especially at Christmastime, so last year I made them. I'm not as good as my mom or sisters, so I had my sister tell me EXACTLY how to make them, step by step, so I would succeed. I stayed up all night long and made batch after batch to deliver to co-workers, neighbors and ward members. They turned out lovely and I'm glad that I am rekindling the Cozzens girls' tradition.
2 c. mashed potatoes
1 c. warm water
4 T. yeast
1 c. sugar
4 t. salt
1 c. oil
Peel, dice and boil about 3 medium potatoes and mash them until they are lump-free (I use ricer) and cool. Scald 4 cups of milk in a heavy pan on medium heat, stirring constantly until bubbles and foam appear at the top (do not boil) and cool. In a very large bowl add warm water and yeast; sprinkle in a little bit of sugar to help it activate faster. In a smaller bowl, beat eggs and add salt and oil. After yeast sits for 10 minutes and bubbles up, add egg mixture, sugar, potatoes and milk (making sure they are not hot). Mix well, making sure there are no lumps from potatoes. Start adding flour, two cups at a time, and mix well with each addition. As soon as the dough is too thick to stir, dump 2 cups of flour on the counter and dump the dough on top. Top with another 2 cups of flour and work in, adding additional flour as needed (it should remain slightly sticky, adding enough to be able to handle). Kneed dough until it is as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
Wash out original large bowl and add oil to the bottom and sides. Put dough in the bowl and turn to coat all sides with the oil. Let rise in a warm spot (can use oven if has been warmed, but not hot) for about 45 minutes. Punch down and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Divide dough in thirds and cover two of the sections and work with one at a time. Add a little flour to the counter and knead dough for a minute. Then shape into a rectangle and roll out into a very large rectangle. Spread melted butter and cinnamon-sugar mixture (2 cups brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar and 1 T. cinnamon) all over dough, up to the edges. Cut into fourths. Always working toward the raw cut edge, roll smaller rectangles like cinnamon rolls, pinching the raw edge together so there is no gap.
Put 6 pieces of tin foil (large enough to cover a cookie sheet) on a table and spray with cooking spray. Set the cinnamon “roll” onto one half of the tin foil. Form a “U” shape and cut both of the ends off (about an inch or so until it looks nice). Using clean, sharp scissors, clip almost all the way into the dough every 1 ½ inches. Twist and turn each individual “roll” until it faces up (all going in the same direction), placing one end slightly on top of the other end. Continue with all the rolls, keeping track of which were first. Let them raise for about an hour.
Two tea rings should fit on one tin foil sheet. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 13-15 minutes at 350 degrees until lightly browned. Cool.