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Strawberry Rhubarb Cinnamon Rolls

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I love strawberry and rhubarb together so, so much. They really are a perfect combo and I like them together like I like blueberry and cinnamon, blackberry and lemon, or raspberry and coconut. This is not at all the first time I’ve dabbled in Strawberry Rhubarb goodness, no, no, no. There was an epic open faced, unadorned Graham Crust Strawberry Rhubarb Pie that was essentially jam in a cookie crust. There was an understated and elegant whole wheat Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake and of course, the adorably photogenic Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts with Ground Almond Crusts . So you see, I’m no stranger to the straw-barb game, in fact, it’s a flavor combo I seek out wherever possible and I love how it always tastes homey and rustic, and perfectly like summer. 

There’s an incredible bakery here in Vancouver called Uprising Breads and they do incredible cinnamon rolls in blueberry or strawberry (totally my inspiration for these) among a million other delicious things and superb coffee. Uprising has always been there, so long as I remember (at least 25 years) and just walking into its doors takes me back to my childhood. Funny how smells and tastes can do that. In my early twenties we lived about 2 blocks from them and it was a dangerous situation because any excuse could get us out the door and over there for snacks, lunches or breakfasts, but mostly, for their cinnamon rolls.

These Strawberry Rhubarb Cinnamon Rolls will rock your world. Soft, easy to work with dough, a jammy sweet-tart filling, not too much cinnamon, but enough to keep them in the cinnamon roll category, and they make a share-sized batch, so you’ll be extra popular with friends and family when you bring them out, or pack them up and gift someone with them unexpectedly. Totally worth cranking up the oven in the middle of summer. Hot tip: make them up the night before, get up early before it’s too hot to bake, and then enjoy them warm for breakfast or brunch. Ha, looks like I have your weekend all planned out for you. You’re welcome.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cinnamon Rolls

For the dough:

5 C all purpose flour, divided – plus more for kneading and rolling

1 Tbsp dry yeast

½ C light brown sugar

½ C milk

½ C butter

2 tsp vanilla

½ C sour cream

4 eggs

In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the standard paddle attachment, mix 3 cups of the flour, the yeast and the brown sugar.

In a small pot on the stove, melt the butter completely. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk, vanilla. Add slowly to the flour with the mixer running slowly. Increase the speed and beat the developing dough until it is smooth and very soft. Add the sour cream and beat again until incorporated. With the mixer running at a medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is fully mixed in before adding the next one. Add one of the remaining cups of flour and mix. Remove the paddle and swap in the dough hook. Incorporate the final cup of flour. Mix on medium, with the dough hook, for another full minute. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it steadily for at least 5 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic and no longer sticky or wet. Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover it with a clean tea towel and leave it to rise for at least 2-3 hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.

The dough is ready to proceed when it has doubled in volume. Give it a good punch to deflate it and gently knead it for a minute or so. Let it relax while you prepare the filling:

½ C butter, softened

1 C brown sugar, divided

1 Tbsp cinnamon

2 cups of chopped fresh strawberries

1 cup of raw chopped rhubarb

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, cook the strawberries and rhubarb in half the brown sugar over medium heat until very soft and jammy, about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Allow this mixture to cool completely. Mix the butter, cinnamon and remaining brown sugar until they are well combined.

To assemble the rolls, roll out the dough on a well floured surface with a well floured rolling pin. Aim for a rectangle that is about 18 inches wide by 12 inches tall. No need to trim it neatly, just try for a general rectangular shape. Spread the whole surface with the sugar-butter mixture, leaving about an inch (along the long side closest to you) bare. Spread the fruit all over the buttered dough. Starting from the top of the dough, gently pull it down towards you and begin to roll it up, stretching to accommodate the fruit. Keep rolling, trying to keep the log you’re forming nice and even. Don’t worry if it is lumpy from the fruit, it also may be slippery, do your best to roll the dough tightly. Roll until you reach the bare strip in front of you. Use that bare dough to pinch closed the log so the apples and butter aren’t escaping.

Cut the log into 16 even pieces and pack them, cut side up, into two well buttered 8×8 inch baking dishes. Cover and leave them to rest, about another 2 hours until they have puffed and filled the pans. Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the rolls for 30-40 minutes until they are bubbling and browned all over.

To glaze them, combine 1 cup of icing sugar with a few drops of vanilla and enough milk to make it a pour-able consistency. Drizzle liberally on cooled cinnamon rolls.

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