These rhubarb rolls are a pleasure, with a tart handmade rhubarb filling within a sweet yeasted bread and a pink rhubarb glaze on top. Jump to the recipe
On my everyday treks through the city, I come across a number of things. Some things are expected, and others are absolutely weird. Every day I walk 30 minutes one way to work, which gives me plenty of opportunity to see both the commonplace and boring, the repetitive and normal, as well as the unusual and plain weird in a metropolis the size of Chicago.
My stroll passes through coffee shops and bus stations, corporate office buildings and glitzy apartment towers, run-down vacant stores and busy hotels, as well as sidewalk cafes and construction projects. I walk alongside bankers and lawyers in expensive suits, women eating lunch in Lululemon spandex, sunburned tourists who suddenly stop in front of me, groups of noisy students on field trips, bedraggled homeless people looking for food, cops walking their beats and getting asked directions, elderly couples strolling along holding hands, runners training for the marathon, nannies pushing their charges in strollers (and occasionally dog walkers pushing), and nannies pushing their charges in strollers. In the daily turmoil of the city, I see rich, poor, and everything in between mingling together.
You have to be paying carefully because the weird moments don’t always come out in the open. I once observed a construction worker stooping and idly washing his hands in a sizable street puddle of warm standing water. I recently observed a well-dressed man coming down the street barefoot, obviously having just gone for a run, but without any shoes in his possession. I’ve seen ugly homeless men directing tourists and individuals residing in abandoned doorways and alleyways. Chicago has its moments, but it’s not as startling as New York.
In a tiny box in the sky, Brian and I reside above everything. Living in such a little apartment amidst such a big city can seem weird at times. You realise?
This is how our small corner of Chicago typically appears: a mixer running, flour all around. This special event celebrates rhubarb throughout its extremely brief season. Because rhubarb is constantly combined with strawberries and never the centre of attention, I believe it frequently gets the short end of the stick. Although they taste great together, I prefer to let the acidic flavour of the rhubarb stand out on its own.
In fact, if you need step-by-step images of how rolled-out dough should appear, check out my cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing or carrot cake cinnamon rolls. These rhubarb rolls aren’t all that dissimilar from other rolls we’ve baked together. Here, there are two key differences: (1) the technique for generating the dough, which relies on the mixer’s dough hook to create that beautiful gluten rather than hand stirring; and (2) the use of a jam-like puree of cooked-down rhubarb in both the filling and the glaze. The rhubarb show is on, and I’m really happy with it.
Having patience is a must when baking sweet buns. For the yeast to work its magic on the dough, it needs time. However, cooking down the rhubarb doesn’t take very long and you don’t need to purée it; by simply stirring it constantly, it finally develops a smooth, jam-like consistency. The dough is then rolled out, filled with a cup of puree, rolled up, placed, given one last rise, and baked!
They are somewhat untidy, but so is life. It is worthwhile.
After baking, we create a gorgeous pink glaze by combining some additional rhubarb puree with powdered sugar and lemon juice. I can’t get enough of this natural colour!
The laborious (but soothing) process of creating these rhubarb buns is a serious reward, as is getting to eat them. I picture my ideal weekend as one of these rolls and a cup of coffee, staring out over this chaotic city.
Before the season ends, I hope you can take your time and try making these rhubarb rolls. Every minute is worth it with them!
- Making the dough:
- 6/3 cups whole milk
- Cubed four tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 2 1 packet of 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast; alternatively, use active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons of sugar, granulated
- One big egg
- 14 teaspoon of salt
- all-purpose flour, 3 1/4 cups
- 3 cups of cut rhubarb (approximately 1/2 inch slices) are needed for the rhubarb filling.
- Granulated sugar, 1/2 cup
- two teaspoons of lemon juice
- cornstarch, two teaspoons
- When assembling:
- 1 big beaten egg
- 1 tablespoon milk or water
- 2 Tablespoons of rhubarb filling for the glaze (from above)
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, powdered
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of lemon juice (as needed)
Making the dough:
Heat the milk and butter in a microwave-safe bowl (I use a pyrex measuring cup) until the butter is barely melted and the milk is warm to the touch (but not hot – about 100-110 degrees F). To incorporate the butter, whisk everything together.
Add sugar and yeast by stirring. Allow to settle for around 5 minutes. When the mixture begins to bubble a little, the yeast is alive and active.
After beating the egg in a small bowl, add it to the dough hook-equipped bowl of a stand mixer. Salt, flour, and the milk/yeast mixture should all be added. Using the dough hook, blend at low speed for a few seconds, then beat at medium speed for about five minutes. The dough ought to be elastic, smooth, and easy to roll into a ball.
The dough should be rolled into a ball and placed in the mixing bowl’s bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand until doubled, around 1 to 1.5 hours, in a warm area (I just set it on top of my oven). While the dough is rising, prepare the filling.
In a medium saucepan, mix sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, and rhubarb slices. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, over medium heat, or until the rhubarb is entirely broken down and the mixture resembles jam. You might need to use your spoon to crush some of the rhubarb bits.
While the dough is completing its rise, set the filling aside to cool. Measure out 1 cup of the filling once it has cooled, and save the rest for the glaze or another use (you will have more than you need).
Spread the risen dough out on a surface that has been lightly dusted with flour. It will probably be more oval than rectangular when you roll it out, but that’s okay. Leave a 1-inch margin around the edges as you cover the dough with 1 cup of the rhubarb filling.
Roll the dough towards you, starting with the long edge that is farthest away from you. As you do so, move your fingers evenly back and forth along the dough. It will spill a little and the filling will escape, but that’s okay.
Use a bench scraper or a sharp knife to cut the dough into 12 even rolls. Then, arrange the rolls in an oiled 9×13-inch pan with the cut side up and the messy filled side down. Allow to rise at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes, covered loosely with plastic wrap, until somewhat risen and puffy.
Set the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The last egg should be beaten with a tablespoon of milk or water. Brush the egg wash evenly over the rolls once they have risen.
Bake the rolls for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbling and golden brown.
In the meantime, prepare your glaze by combining 2 tablespoons of rhubarb filling with 1 cup of powdered sugar and just enough lemon juice to make it pourable (1-2 tbsp should do it).
Give warm rolls a glaze. Serve alongside coffee and excellent company.
Adapted from the beautiful Joy the Baker’s dough recipe.
These rhubarb buns can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for a few days. To serve, simply reheat each item for 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave. The baked and glazed rolls can also be frozen in an airtight container. Defrost the rolls overnight in the refrigerator or on the counter before reheating and serving.