Rhubarb is the rebel of the vegetable world. It looks like celery, tastes like sour candy, its leaves are poisonous and unlike most spring and summer produce, its barely edible raw. With such a feisty personality, its no wonder some are intimidated to cook it.
More than any other fruit or vegetable, rhubarb to me is the sign of the changing season. It is the signal that summer is arriving in those ruby red or speckled green & pink stalks. I snap up what I can in the garden and when I see it at the supermarket. I take all I can and more, slicing and freezing the excess for rhubarb cravings that come in winter.
Year-round, I save rhubarb recipe ideas I hope to make once I get my hands on the first stalks of the season. No summer would be complete without cinnamon rhubarb bread …. still warm from the oven and the heavenly smell of cinnamon in the air!
Cinnamon Roll Rhubarb Bread
In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except vanilla & food color. Heat to medium high & stir occasionally until rhubarb begins to break down completely. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla & food coloring; allow to cool to room temperature.
In a small dish, combine yeast with lukewarm water & 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Allow to sit for a few minutes until frothy.
In a large bowl, slightly melt butter; cool a couple of minutes then whisk in egg. In another bowl, whisk together flour, salt & remaining sugar. Add yeast mixture to butter mixture, whisking together. Add flour mixture, combine then turn on a floured work surface & knead for about 5 minutes. Dough will be very soft but not sticky.
Lightly grease bowl, place dough ball in it & cover with a towel. Place in a draft-free place & allow to rise for about 20 minutes. Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan; set aside
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface & press down to deflate it. Fold in the two opposite sides to meet in the middle, then fold in the remaining two sides to meet, so that you've formed the dough into a square. Press down to flatten it slightly, then cover loosely and let stand for 10 minutes
With a floured rolling pin, rolling the dough to form a rectangle that's 12 by 22 inches. Make the corners as square as possible. If you're having trouble with the dough shrinking back, pause briefly before trying again.
Spread rhubarb/cinnamon filling over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Now fold the two long sides of the dough in one at a time, so that the meet each other in the middle. Pinch them together gently to seal the seam. Gently roll over the surface with a rolling pin to flatten the folded dough to about 7 by 25 inches.
Starting at the narrow end, roll up the dough, making a thick spiral. When you get to the end, brush a little egg wash on the loaf at the spot where the end will hit. Pinch the end a bit to seal it.
Carefully & gently place the roll, seam side-down in the buttered pan. The roll of dough should nearly fill it. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap & place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about 25-30 minutes, until almost doubled & about 2 inches above the top of the pan. Meanwhile, adjust the oven racks so that you have one rack one-third up from the bottom of the oven.
Lightly brush remaining egg wash over loaf & bake for about 20 minutes. You may need to cover the top loosely with aluminum foil towards the end of baking to prevent over-browning. Bake until the loaf, when removed from the pan, sounds hollow when tapped with your fingertips. Cool on a rack.
Make glaze by whisking together 2 Tbsp rhubarb filling, 1 cup powdered sugar, and enough lemon juice to make the glaze pourable (1-2 tbsp should do it). When bread has slightly cooled, drizzle with glaze if desired.
If its possible, I’d like to sneak in another rhubarb recipe even if it is September. While we never grow tired of the classic pairing of strawberries and rhubarb, I love rhubarb too much to simply let it be a sidekick to those sweet berries. Rhubarb is capable of so much more, whether its used in sweet or savory applications (such as the rhubarb chutney I had featured in an earlier blog). This pretty, long, tart piece of produce is not a one-dimensional character …. it loves the spotlight!
Perhaps, not as famous as the combination above but every bit as delicious, are raspberries and rhubarb. While cinnamon may be a more common spice to pair with rhubarb, herbal cardamom lends a warm, citrusy note and is amazing in these twists.
Raspberry Rhubarb Twists
Place rhubarb, raspberries & sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a slow simmer over a low heat. Simmer until mixture begins to thicken. Turn off heat & set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, combine yeast with lukewarm water or milk & 1 tsp sugar. Allow to sit for a few minutes until frothy.
In a large bowl, slightly melt butter; cool a couple of minutes then whisk in egg. In another bowl, combine flour, salt & remaining sugar. Add yeast mixture to butter mixture, whisking together. Add flour mixture, combine then turn on a floured work surface & knead for about 5 minutes. Dough will be very soft but not sticky.
Lightly grease bowl, place dough ball in it & cover with a tea towel. Place in a draft-free place & allow to rise for about 20 minutes.
Lay a piece of parchment paper over the removable bottom of a 10-inch tart pan on your work surface. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface; divide into thirds.
Place one portion on parchment paper & roll or press out dough the size of the bottom of tart pan (10-inches). Carefully spread the circle with half of the filling mixture. Roll out the second portion to the same size & transfer with your rolling pin to top the first portion. Carefully spread it with remaining filling.
Roll out third portion of dough to the same size & place it on top of the other two layers. Pinch dough around outer edge to seal. Place a small glass in center. Cut from outside edge just to the glass, forming 12 wedges.
Remove the glass. Twist each wedge 3-4 times. Tuck edge under. Place bottom of tart pan (with parchment paper & pastry) inside tart pan ring. Cover & allow to rise for about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F. If you prefer, lightly brush twists with a bit of egg wash before baking. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.
Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over warm twists.