Fluffy cinnamon buns topped with a decadent rhubarb sauce.
Rhubarb season is here, which basically means rhubarb all day, every day! My plants are incredible producers so I am constantly trying out new recipes for the tangy stalks. In truth, I actually didn't eat rhubarb very much until I started growing my own a few years ago, and now I can't imagine spring without it!
Our good neighbour, Louise, kindly offered her plant to me four years ago. I was expanding my garden into a field and faced the potential of having a lot of unused space so I figured, why not?! On a rainy and somewhat miserable day in May, my mom and I went down to the neighbour’s with our shovels and a container to bring the roots home in. We began digging, and then just kept on digging! I miscalculated truly how far down that root would go because the buds above ground were so small at that point. Through a fit of giggles from the three of us, we finally managed to get all of it and brought it home to the Fifth Gen garden. Once there, we carefully divided the stems and began planting my new row of rhubarb. I had envisioned a hedge-like row that would continue to grow year after year, and I would eventually be able to split the plants to create more. Once again, I underestimated the crimson shrub. From Lousie’s single plant, I was able to grow TWENTY-FOUR bunches! My one row became three in less than an hour.
Fast forward these four years, and my yearly harvest averages somewhere in the 700-800 lbs mark. It's incredible! Those rhubarb plants are the gift that keeps on giving and even though 24 plants seems a bit overwhelming at times, I am so happy that I planted them!
Tips for growing big rhubarb plants:
-Top dress your plants with compost or fertilizer. Rhubarb is a heavy feeder and needs the extra nitrogen.
-Pick the flowers before they open. In doing so, you are training your plant to put it's energy into producing stalks instead of going to seed.
-Harvest lightly in the beginning, don't over-pick your plants.
-Rhubarb likes a healthy dose of water, but does not like having it's feet wet.
RHUBARB CINNAMON BUNS
For the dough: For the filling:
1 1/2 cups milk 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup + 1 tsp sugar 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp salt 1/2 cup finely chopped rhubarb
1/4 cup shortening 1 cup rhubarb sauce* see below
1/2 cup lukewarm potato water
1 package dry active yeast
5 - 5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Scald the milk. Pour into a large bowl and add 1/4 cup sugar, salt, and shortening. Stir until the shortening melts. Allow to cool to lukewarm.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, dissolve 1 tsp sugar in the lukewarm water and sprinkle yeast on top. Stir slightly to combine. Set in a warm place and let stand for 10 minutes.
Add softened yeast to milk mixture. Add 1 well beaten egg. Stir well.
Mix in 3 cups of flour. Then, add another 2 - 2 1/2 cups of flour. I add mine 1/2 cup at a time to avoid adding too much. The dough shouldn't stick to your hands, but still should not be stiff. Work in the last of the flour with a rotating motion of the hand.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Shape into a smooth ball.
Place dough in a lightly greased bowl; grease the top slightly. Cover with a beeswax wrap or light tea towel. Place in a warm place and let rise until doubled in bulk - roughly 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto a flour surface. Divide into 2 smooth balls. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
Roll each ball into a 10"x12" rectangle. Brush with melted butter.
Combine the filling ingredients and sprinkle mixture over the dough rectangles.
Starting from the longer side, roll each up like a jelly roll; seal.
Cut the rolls into 1" pieces and place in two greased 9"x 13" pans.
Cover and let rise in a warm place once again until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Allow oven to preheat to 375F just before rolls are finished rising.
Pour rhubarb sauce over buns. Any leftovers can be kept in the fridge or frozen for a later date.
Bake at 375 F for 25 minutes.