Hello strangers! You won’t believe how happy I am to be able to finally bring you a brand new recipe, after almost 2 weeks of battling the dreaded virus! And before you ask, I have not been tested as there are no tests available to the general public here in the UK, but I am 99% sure that was it. It is also just as contagious as you would expect from something capable of wiping the entire world out – Duncan got it too despite us taking all the necessary precautions. However, I am happy to report that we are both well again and taking full advantage of the this glorious spring sunshine by swinging in my favourite hammock, reading, patting our cat and eating a prolific amount of sweet baked goods 😛 .
The trouble with the lockdown, apart from the obvious, is that it really isn’t that good for your waistline. I don’t know about you but I feel compelled to bake all the time and due to the nature of my job our house is constantly crammed with baked goods of all sorts. It made me realise how grateful I am to Duncan’s workmates who tended to help us eat through all the stuff my sugar obsessed brain comes up with. I really miss being able to give things away.
Today’s recipe is not a traditional hot cross bun or a cinnamon bun, but still very Easter-worthy, in my opinion. I made a bunch of swirly buns, jam-packed with deliciously tart pink rhubarb and sweet stem ginger. They are sweet, tart and lightly spiced at the same time, really fruity and fresh and crowned with a fluorescent pink rhubarb icing. I happen to think that it’s a perfect Spring bun and I hope you will too!
What inspired me to create these is the ludicrously pink forced rhubarb that appears to be sitting idle on my local shop’s shelves. While people are going crazy for pasta, rice and flour, no one seems to be bothered much about rhubarb so I had to pounce on it and make something with it before the season comes to an end.
What I love about these (apart from the taste, of course) is their gorgeous, almost too good to be true, colour. It is kind of funny as I have always been the kind of girl who hates pink, ever since I was little. It could be that because being male and tough definitely had more of a currency in my house and since I certainly wasn’t tough, I decided, early on, that pink is too girly and I hate it. I hated it for years despite all my girl friends going crazy for it. It used to annoy me when manufacturers would insist on making female versions of products (including things like running shoes and watches) exclusively pink. It still does, to be honest and I sometimes tend to buy the male version instead but I am slowly getting less combative about that colour in general. I would not go as far as wearing it, that’s for sure, but I do embrace it in nature, art, interior design. And I certainly embrace it in these buns as it makes them uniquely beautiful and an object of envy among all the sad brown cinnamon buns out there 😉 .
- 500 g / 4 cups all purpose wheat flour (if you live in Europe, use 550 type flour)
- 50 g / ¼ cup caster sugar or maple syrup
- ½ tsp salt
- 7 g / 2¼ oz instant / fast-action dried yeast*
- approx. 285 ml / 1 cup + 3 tbsp warm plant milk (I used soy milk)
- 25 g / 2 tbsp coconut oil (optional but highly recommended)
- 2 tsp maple syrup / sugar + 2 tsp plant milk for glazing
- 500 g / 17.5 oz fresh pink rhubarb, divided
- 50 g / 4 tbsp sugar, stem ginger syrup or maple syrup
- 4-5 pieces of stem ginger in syrup, chopped very finely
GLAZE + (optional) ICING
- 1-2 tbsp maple syrup
- approx 70 g / ½ cup icing sugar
- Mix flour, sugar, salt and instant yeast in a large mixing bowl. If using maple syrup do not add it yet.
- Stir in warmed up plant milk. If using maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener), use 60 ml / ¼ cup less plant milk and add maple syrup to the milk before adding to the dry ingredients.
- Stir everything together with a large wooden spoon. You may need to add a tablespoon or so more milk if the mixture is too dry to stick together roughly at this point but do so very gradually. When the mixture has mostly stuck together turn the mixture out on to a work surface or bread board.
- Knead the mixture by holding one end of the dough in one hand and stretching it out with the other hand. You then reform the dough, turn it 90 degrees and start again. Halfway through the kneading incorporate coconut oil (solid not melted) into the dough. It will make the dough slippery at first, you might think it has been ruined – but it has not, it will make for a richer dough. Keep on kneading and the dough will become elastic and smooth soon. In total the kneading should take about 15 minutes for this amount of dough.
- When the dough is smooth, form it into a ball and coat in a thin layer of oil. Place in a large mixing bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave it in a warm place (but not too warm!) until it has doubled in size – about 1 hr. It’s a good idea to take a photo of the dough at the beginning so that you are sure when it has doubled in volume. While the dough is proofing, make the filling (see FILLING section below).
- Once the dough has doubled in size, empty it out on to a work surface and push the air out with your fingertips.
- Roll the dough into a large rectangle that is about 36 cm / 14″ wide. The height depends how swirly you want the buns, the thinner the dough the more swirls and therefore filling your buns will end up with – 40 cm / 15¾” height is what mine was.
- Spread a thin layer (you don’t want the buns to end up soggy) of blended rhubarb all over the rolled out dough. Sprinkle evenly (!) with finely chopped candied ginger and raw rhubarb slices making sure they land on their sides for the most part.
- Starting from the bottom, roll the dough tightly so that you end up with a 36 cm / 14″ long “dough snake”.
- Now, depending on your baking dish, divide the dough into 9 or 12 even (4-3 cm / 1.5 – 1.1″) segments. I find that a square or round dish, like mine, needs 9 and a rectangular one needs 12 pieces. Use a long piece of sewing thread to do the cutting as it does not squash the filling as much as a knife does. Place the thread under the snake and overlap the thread on the top of the snake where you want the cut to be, pull tight to cut.
- Place the segments, swirls face up, on a lightly oiled baking dish, leaving 1-2 cm between each bun. If you can fill the baking tray, this is ideal.
- Leave the buns (covered with a kitchen towel) to prove again for another hour. Toward the end of this time, preheat the oven to 175° C / 350° F.
- Brush the buns with the maple syrup + plant milk glaze and bake them for about 30-35 minutes, until golden brown. Cover the top with a piece of kitchen foil if you find that they are browning too quickly.
- While the buns are baking, create the icing by combining a tablespoon or so of the rhubarb puree with icing sugar and mixing really well. Adding more rhubarb puree will make the icing pinker but it will set a little looser.
- Take the buns out of the oven when they are lovely and golden, and brush them with maple syrup (or sugar syrup) while they are still hot.
- Once they are cool, drizzle the rhubarb icing on top.
- Heat up the oven to 200º C / 390º F.
- Divide all your rhubarb into thirds. Cut one third of the rhubarb into very thin slices – they will be folded into the dough so they need to be thin to cook through as the buns bake. Cut the rest into 1″ / 2 cm long segments.
- Toss the rhubarb segments in sugar (maple syrup or ginger stem syrup!) and bake until soft, it will take about 10 minutes (depending on the thickness).
- Transfer to a blender and blend until super smooth. Set aside.