If I seem a bit obsessed with rhubarb at the moment it's because I, a woman who lives alone, bought 4 packs of it over the last 2 weeks, carried away by the vivid colour and iridescent sheen of the forced stalks, and now need to use it up before it turns to slimy mush. The reason I bought so much - I've been fantasizing about rhubarb all winter (I'm assuming we all have a couple of seasonal things that we get really excited about food-wise, mine are very definitely rhubarb and blood oranges) and had a long list of things I wanted to try.
Unfortunately getting rhubarb in the city centre isn't actually that easy, and after a couple of miles walking, by the time I finally found some I got carried away. Rhubarb might well continue to feature for a while.
After Zuza Zak's Peach and Elderflower breakfast buns (Here) I've wanted to play around a bit - one thing I really liked about this recipe is the small quantities it makes. Buns like these are best eaten really fresh, and these make just the right quantity to take to work and share, or for 3 or 4 people to make a breakfast of.
For the dough, you need a sachet of instant yeast, 50g of caster sugar, 100ml of milk, 200g of plain flour, a pinch of salt, 25g of butter, a teaspoon of vanilla paste, or vanilla extract, and an egg yolk (keep the white). Put the butter in the milk and gently heat until the butter has melted, whilst that's doing put the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. This is a sticky dough so I prefer to make it in a stand mixer or with an electric hand mixer with hook attachments. When the butter has melted and the milk mix is warm rather than hot add it to the dry ingredients and knead for between five and 10 minutes. The dough should be glossy and smooth. Now set it aside in a covered bowl to double in size.
For the rhubarb and custard filling, you need about 150g of rhubarb, which is a couple of tender young stalks. Chop these into roughly cm long chunks and put in a pan with a couple of dessert spoons of sugar, 1 dessert spoon of birds custard powder, and a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Gently heat and keep stirring until the rhubarb has collapsed into a pink cloud and the whole thing is thick and jammy. Set aside to cool, and butter or line a cake tin about 7 inches wide - a sandwich tin is perfect.
When the dough is doubled in size roll it out into a rectangle roughly 1 cm thick, spread the rhubarb over it leaving a good margin at the edges, roll into a long sausage, cut into 6 or 7 pieces and arrange carefully in the tin. Leave for about 20 minutes to double in size and roughly blitz about 25g of hazelnuts, mix these with a generous tablespoon of demerara sugar. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
When the buns are ready to go into the oven, brush them with egg white and sprinkle over the nut mix. Cook for about 20 mins until golden. Allow to cool for a few minutes once out the oven and they're good to go.