Rhubarb Sweet Rolls

My sister moved into a new house a few months ago and discovered this spring that she is now the proud owner of some rhubarb plants. Lucky, huh? I love rhubarb and its lip-puckeringly tart flavor, and sometimes it can be hard to get your hands on it unless you know someone who grows some. I'm surprised they didn't tell her there was a rhubarb plant in the back yard when she was looking at the house. I definitely would have considered that an asset up there with hardwood floors and newer appliances. (I'm only kidding a little about this.)

Rhubarb is so wonderful because its tart flavor is so unique and works well in both desserts and savory dishes. Its growing season is short enough that it is almost impossible to get sick of it. Instead you seem to just whet your appetite for more of its sourness and then it is gone. 

While you are whetting your appetite for rhubarb this year, along with your rhubarb pies and cakes, give these sweet rolls a try. They're soft and gooey and have just enough rhubarb flavor. The dough itself is a little sweet, which helps balance out the sourness of the rhubarb. You have to love something that is basically a dessert but can pass as a main breakfast dish. 

To make it, you first start the dough and let it rise. The secret ingredient in this dough is sweetened condensed milk. It does amazing things to the texture and flavor of the dough. Amazing, I'm telling you. 

While the dough is rising, prepare the rhubarb by slicing it and boiling it in water with sugar until it is soft. (~2 minute once it gets up to a boil, but check on it and stop if from cooking just when it starts to get soft.) Strain mixture briefly and pulse in a food processor to break down the big chunks. You can add a couple drops of red food coloring to the strained mixture to make it pretty and red if your rhubarb was a little on the green side. Taste the rhubarb and add a pinch of salt, sugar to taste, and even a little lemon juice if it needs it.

Once the dough has risen, roll it out into a 12" by 16" rectangle. The best way to know that you are getting the right size is the measure it. (I know, it's crazy, huh? Actually measuring things seems so strict for cooking, but it really helps make things uniform.) Spread the rhubarb mixture on the dough and roll it up loosely, (starting on the long side, not the short side) making sure to pinch the end to seal it. 

Here's the tricky part, and don't even attempt it without a serrated knife. Carefully slice the roll into 12 even pieces. Yes, you can use your handy kitchen ruler again to make sure every slice is the same size. Place the slices in a 9x13 baking pan, cover, and let rise for half an hour.

Bake the rolls at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Drizzle with glaze and dig in.

Rhubarb Sweet Rolls


3/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 T sugar
1 large egg
3 1/2 cups flour
2 packages instant yeast
1 tsp salt

1 lb rhubarb
3/4 cup sugar, plus extra to taste
Red food coloring
Lemon juice

1/2 tsp corn syrup
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 T half and half (or milk)
1. In a small bowl, combine water, condensed milk, oil, sugar and egg. Mix well. In the bowl of a standing mixer, add yeast, flour and salt. Combine, and with mixer on low slowly add the water/milk mixture. Mix until dough is smooth, about 4-5 minutes. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead into a ball. Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, make the filling by chopping rhubarb into 1/4 inch slices and add to a medium sauce pan with 1 cup of water and 3/4 cup sugar. Bring mixture to a boil and cook until rhubarb is tender, about 2 minutes. Drain in a fine mesh strainer, add drained rhubarb to a food processor with a pinch of salt (and food coloring if using) and pulse 3-4 times. Taste the rhubarb and add additional sugar and/or lemon juice to taste.

3. Punch down risen dough and roll to a rectangle 16x12 inches. Spread cooled rhubarb mixture over the dough, and carefully roll to make a 16 inch long roll. Pinch the end to seal it.

4. With a serrated knife, slice roll into 12 even pieces and place in 9x13 baking pan. Cover and let rise 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

5. Bake rolls 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack and cool five more minutes. Turn right side up onto a baking sheet. Combine glaze ingredients in a small bowl, adding more powdered sugar or half and half to achieve a consistency you like. Spread over warm rolls and serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Source: HeatOvenTo350

12 Click For Comments:

This look soooooo yummy! And different! Wonder if the hubby would like these? Who cares? I can make 'em anyway :)

Looks great. Can't wait to try it. 

These look incredible...I can't wait for rhubarb to be back in season since I just used up my freezer stash - these are definitely on the agenda!

Here's a neat trick for cutting the rolled up dough.  Take about a one yard piece of sewing thread.  Slide it under the dough to the point you want a cut.  Cross the ends over the top and pull - instant clean cut without flattening the dough.

This recipe looks delicious and another way to use up my rhubarb.  I have always used dental floss to cut the dough.  Slide it under and cross the ends on top and pull - no flattened dough!

WoW!! I made these today and was extremely disappointed. The dough didn't mix in my mixer, it didn't get "smooth." In fact, it seemed rather dry. It rose a little but nothing the second time. So WTH, I cooked them anyway. Not very good. Wayyyyy too much yeasty taste and my BF, who bakes a lot of bread, said it was too much yeast. Bottom line is, sweetened condensed milk or not, I probably won't make these again! Sorry.

I'm so sorry to hear that the recipe failed for you! I hate wasting time and ingredients and I'm sorry that this happened to you. I've made these several times without seeing the problems you've mentioned here but I'm going back to look at the recipe to make sure everything is correct. One thing I've noticed is that the instant yeast it calls for works much faster and has a less yeasty flavor that active dry yeast, so that might explain some differences if you used active dry yeast. Since it is a more dense bread with the condensed milk in it, it needs a little more lift than most. Regardless, I really am sorry that you didn't love these. I appreciate you letting me know.

I wanted to pop in and tell you that I made these and they were AMAZING! It was so nice to have another way to use up rhubarb. That dough is especially wonderful! I think I will use it to make cinnamon buns soon!

Hello there -- I just made these today myself. I totally agree that the dough was great and it rolled beautifully. I can mess up a recipe like you wouldn't believe but the only thing left is the dishes. Thank you for the recipe!

Thank you for letting me know how it worked for you! I'm so glad you enjoyed them.

Thanks for taking the time to let me know how this worked for you. Success stories are my favorite comments to get. :) I'm so glad you enjoyed them.

Had to stop by and mention that I successfully made these with a condensed milk substitute AND active dry yeast! I used 1/2 cup of the 3/4 cup of warm water and 1 tbsp of the sugar to bloom 5 1/2 tsp of yeast for a few minutes before mixing it into the rest of the wet mixture. It rose and baked up beautifully! Only shame is that I didn't have QUITE 1 lb of rhubarb, so they're a little short on filling. Next time... :)

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