Recently, I received a review copy of the new book The Summer Table by Lisa Lemke. Summer is my favorite season, so I was pretty jazzed about the book.
So, let me tell you, I was even more jazzed once I started perusing the recipes. This cookbook is like a fresh bite of summer, with recipes ranging from summer risotto with asparagus and basil to "beach buffet" dishes like warm potato salad with pork belly and cherries or summer salad with shrimp and "fall over backward good" dijon dressing. It is like the summer you would be living if your life were slightly more glamorous than it is now, and with a beach nearby. I say this as a compliment: it is aspirational.
But the desserts are what really spoke to me. They're creative and summery: strawberry semifreddo cones with biscotti streusel; pane caramel with flake salt; panna cotta pie with summer berries. Like, yum.
And then there were the cold-risen rhubarb and vanilla buns. This was by far the recipe that interested me the most, because rhubarb and sweets are like bread and butter in my book. Plus, rhubarb is fruit (or is it vegetable?)--either way, HEALTH FOOD!
Here's the recipe as printed in the book, reprinted with permission from The Summer Table published in 2015 by Sterling Epicure. Text © Lisa Lemke. Photography by Asa Dahlgren
Author headnote for the recipe:
I learned just about everything I know about baking from my grandmother. In this recipe, I use her method of “cold rising”—and plenty of butter, which has always been her recommendation when it comes to making buns.
Cold-Risen Rhubarb and Vanilla Buns
30 buns ✦ 30 minutes + 1 1/4 hours
1 vanilla bean
7 ounces rhubarb (about 2 stalks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 ounces grated almond paste
2 tablespoons room temperature butter Water
1 1/2 sticks butter
4–4 1/4 cups all‐purpose flour 1 3/4 ounces fresh yeast
1 cup cold whole milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
To make the filling, split the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and place the seeds and the bean in a non‐reactive saucepan. Thinly slice the rhubarb and place it in the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the sugar when the rhubarb begins to release its juices. Lower the heat and continue to simmer the
rhubarb uncovered for about 15 minutes. Remove the rhubarb mixture from the heat and let it cool down. Take out the vanilla bean and stir in the almond paste along with the butter. Blend the mixture carefully and set it aside.
To make the dough, work the butter into the flour, either in a food processor or on a work surface, using a knife or fork, until you get peasized clumps of dough.
Crumble the yeast in a bowl and stir it together with the milk. Add the egg, corn syrup, and salt to the bowl and stir it all together.
Gradually work the flour mixture into the liquid until it is smooth, using a food processor for about 5 minutes, or by hand in a bowl for about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface and divide into two portions. Knead one portion for a few minutes and then thinly roll it into the shape of a rectangle, 12 × 20 inches, and about ‐inch thick. Cut the rectangle into 4 × 4 inch squares and place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle of every square. Fold the dough edges over the filling and carefully pinch them together so that the filling won’t run out. Turn the filled
bun over, seam side down, and form into a round ball. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Arrange the buns so they are nearly touching on a parchment‐lined baking sheet.
Let the buns rise at room temperature under a clean dishtowel until they double in size, after about 1 1/2 hours. Then preheat the oven to 425°F.
Bake the buns in the middle of the oven for about 8 minutes and let them cool on a rack under the towel. Brush the buns with a little water and dip them in granulated sugar while they are still a little warm.