Makes 14-15 buns
(half will be baked inside the buns, the other half is to be served alongside)
3 cups chopped rhubarb (make sure to remove leaves and tough outer stems)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
½ of a vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped with a small paring knife
1 cup chopped strawberries
In a non-reactive saucepan, place the rhubarb, sugar, zest, juice and vanilla bean seeds. Simmer over low heat until the mixture reduces and thickens, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped strawberries. Set aside to cool. Butter two 9” round cake pans with 2”sides or a baking pan that measures 13” x 13.” (My old Magnalite bake pan measures 13½” x 13½”and has many miles on it.)
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
generous pinch salt
¾ cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled (do not combine this with the filling; use this to brush over the dough once it is rolled out)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, salt and hazelnuts. Set aside.
Sugar Bun Dough (Jessie’s adaptation from The Fleischmann Treasury of Yeast Baking)
3¾ cups - 4⅛ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
1 envelope Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise Yeast
¾ cup whole milk
¼ cup water
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine 1½ cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast. In a quart saucepan, heat the milk, water and butter until between 120 degrees F and 130 degrees F. The butter doesn’t need to melt completely. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients in the bowl, beat on low speed to combine. Add the egg and mix until incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add an additional 2¼ cups of flour, and mix on low until the mixture becomes smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl again. Feel the dough between your fingers; if it is excessively sticky, add up to (but no more than) an additional ⅜ cup of flour. Mix the dough with the dough hook to incorporate the additional flour. Remove the bowl and the dough hook from the mixer; cover the dough with a clean dish towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball. Place the dough in a large, well buttered mixing bowl, turning the dough so it is coated in butter on all sides. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until double, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down, gather it together and turn it out onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. Roll the dough out into an 18” x 12” rectangle. Brush the cooled, melted butter over the dough. Sprinkle the brown sugar/spice/hazelnut filling over the melted butter. Reserve half of the Rhubarb-Strawberry Swirl to serve alongside the sugar buns. Use a tablespoon to drop dollops of the remaining rhubarb-strawberry swirl on top of the filling. Use a small offset spatula to carefully smooth the filling; it will not cover the dough completely. (The combination of a swirl of jam throughout the buns and the addition of fresh jam alongside is preferable; covering the dough with all of the jam adds too much moisture to the filling.)
Starting with the long side of dough and using the parchment paper to help lift, roll the dough jellyroll fashion. Tuck the edges under and pinch to seal. Transfer the parchment with the log of dough to a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. This will make it easier to slice the buns. Retrieve the chilled dough from the fridge. With the seam side facing down, use a sharp knife (preferably serrated) to cut the dough crosswise into 15 slices, about 1” thick. Place the slices, cut side down in the 13" x13" pan allowing a little space between each bun. If you are using two 9” pans, you will get 7 slices in each and a little extra swirl for the very center of each pan. Cover the pan(s) with a clean kitchen towel and let the buns rise in a warm place until double, about 45 minutes to an hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake the buns on the middle rack of the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, until lightly brown. Cool slightly in pan(s) on a wire rack. Remove while still slightly warm to prevent sticking. Serve with the reserved Rhubarb-Strawberry Swirl. Should there be any leftovers, cover them with plastic wrap. These are best served slightly warm, out of the oven.