I spent a while to think about something fun or witty to say here, but all I can think of is how hot it is here, how I have a ridiculous amount of things to do (don't we all - I hate people who complain about how busy they are but just let me for one quick sec), and how i'm happy and also sad that bunny, our perfect wee foster cat has potentially found her forever home! I am so happy for her - the people adopting her couldn't be more perfect, but i'm also not so secretly gutted to be saying goodbye to her. She came to us as a scared little nugget who wouldn't leave her bed in her socialisation crate for two weeks, and over the last three months, with a load of hard work, has transformed into the most perfect little weirdo! I don't think saying goodbye will ever get easier, but i'm going to stop talking about it now because it's making the computer screen a bit blurry.
Something that is fun and maybe witty though - these rhubarb sticky buns! Cinnamon buns / morning buns / sticky buns / scrolls / whatever you like to call them, are my favourite type of bread to make. I love how versatile the dough is (I use my fave brioche dough, which can be used for doughnuts, babka, burger buns etc), how you can fill them with anything you like, and also how it's totally acceptable to load them up with icing.
I figured I might as well make the most of rhubarb season still being in full swing, so I made a batch of brioche dough, spiked with a little vanilla bean paste (more on that later), then filled it with a super simple rhubarb vanilla bean compote. Once they had rested for their second proof and been baked off, I finished them with a vanilla bean mascarpone frosting, which I deliberately left on the slightly less sweet side to really let the rhubarb shine through. These are probably some of the best buns i've made - they rival the chelsea buns which are possibly my forever faves. The rhubarb is tart, the brioche fluffy, and mascarpone should be put on / in everything forever and ever.
These buns had a triple dose of vanilla bean paste in them - in the dough, the filling and the frosting. I used my very fave vanilla from an amazing New Zealand company called Heilala Vanilla. Not only are they a NZ company run by the most incredible people breaking into the international market, but they have a very special story, one which makes me very proud to use their product, and super excited to share with you guys!
Tonga, which is a country in the South Pacific made up of a chain of small islands, was hit insanely hard by a cyclone in 2002, greatly damaging their economy and infrastructure. The Ross Family planted a small vanilla plantation as an aid project - a way to inject some money and employment back into the community. Since their first harvest, with the growth of the use of vanilla in commercial and home kitchens, they have gone on to partner with growers all over Tonga, injecting money back into the Tongan economy, specifically in relation to providing women with jobs, and providing kitchens all over the world with responsibly sourced, organically grown Vanilla. You can read more about their story here.
Their story is special, but the Vanilla is also INSANE. I use it in almost everything I make (it gets used a bit like salt - goes in everything), and I can't recommend it enough. If you would like to try it, you can purchase on Amazon, or we are giving away four sets of a year's supply of vanilla (12 jars) - two here on the blog, and two over on Instagram!
All you have to do is make sure you are subscribed to my mailing list (the wee box on the side!), and then leave a comment letting me know what your favourite thing to make with vanilla is! Competition is open until 8pm on the 29th July, 2018, and is open to US residents only. Oh, and make these buns. Because they are bomb.
A few wee tips:
Prepare the rhubarb compote ahead of time, or before you start to make the dough, so that it has time to cool before you spread.
Want to make these for breakfast? The first proof can be done overnight in the fridge!
I deliberately left the frosting a little on the not so sweet side - feel free to adjust if you think it needs a little more icing sugar.
The brioche dough may feel hard to roll out at first. If you find it is springing back on you, give it 5 minutes to relax before rolling. The rolling and cutting process will feel sloppy and look messy, but once the buns are in their baking tray you can nudge them back into shape a little. They also look much better once they have risen / baked - promise!
These don't have to be made with rhubarb - any type of quick jam in the filling will work! You may just need to bear in mind that the sugar in the frosting may need adjusting.
The weight for the rhubarb is the weight of the chopped rhubarb - so you need 750g prepared.
Rhubarb Sticky Buns with Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Frosting
- Makes about 12 -
Rhubarb Quick Jam
750g Rhubarb (chopped weight), trimmed and chopped into approx 2" pieces
375g granulated sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 cup (240ml) whole milk, lukewarm
4 Tbsp sugar
3 3/4 cups (565g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
90g (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Frosting
225g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
100g Powdered sugar, sifted
- PROCESS -
RHUBARB QUICK JAM
Combine the rhubarb, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly, and cook for a further 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until thick and jammy. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before stirring in the vanilla bean paste. Set aside to cool completely. Store in a jar in the fridge until ready to use.
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, milk and 2 Tbsp of the sugar. Mix well, and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, salt, and remaining 2 Tbsp sugar. Mix briefly to combine. Add the eggs, vanilla, and foamy yeast mixture to the bowl. Mix on low for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is starting to come together. It may look slightly dry but do not worry - it will mix together nicely in the next steps. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for another 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth.
Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next piece. This process should take 3-4 minutes. Once the butter is fully incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes, until the dough is very soft and smooth.
Transfer to an oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot until doubled in size, approximately 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
ASSEMBLY AND BAKING
Lightly grease a 9" x 13" baking dish or pan. Turn the brioche dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and pat into a rectangle. Roll out to a 24" x 18" rectangle, using a bench scraper to help keep the edges square.
Spread the rhubarb quick jam evenly over the surface of the dough, and, starting with a short end, roll the dough up into a tight sausage. Cut the sausage into 2" lengths (I find cutting the whole thing in half, then each half into two, and then each quarter section into 3 works best). If your sausage is not 24" long (lol), measure the length first before you cut, and divide the length by 12 so your pieces are even.
Arrange each bun in your prepared baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm spot for 45 min to an hour, or until they have gone puffy, and when lightly poked, your finger leaves a slight indentation that bounces back. This second proving time will depend on the weather - it will go much quicker in warmer climates.
Toward the end of the second proof, preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c.
Remove the plastic wrap, and bake the buns for 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown (finished internal temp of 200˚f). If you think they are browning too quickly, tent with foil after 20 minutes. While the buns are baking, make the vanilla bean mascarpone frosting.
Remove the buns from the oven, and allow to cool for 15 min before frosting generously with the frosting.
VANILLA BEAN MASCARPONE FROSTING
Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip until smooth and fluffy. Taste and adjust sugar content if necessary.
Spread generously over the buns. Serve immediately.
Store leftovers in an airtight container. Briefly rewarm before eating.
Thank you so much to Heilala Vanilla for providing me with the vanilla for this post and the giveaway!