These Small Batch Rhubarb Custard Buns are a great project. The Small Batch Brioche is a no mixer recipe and is mixed by hand. The rhubarb custard buns are filled with an easy custard recipe which makes a perfect creamy filling. These small batch buns have a rhubarb compote and a small batch streusel topping. This recipe is super versatile and is adaptable to make with any fruit puree or compote.
Table of contents
- Small Batch Rhubarb Custard Buns
- How to make Brioche by hand
- What is the windowpane test?
- Room temperature vs melted butter in Brioche
- Super Easy Custard Recipe
- How can you tell when buns are baked?
- Optional Flavour Variations with other Fruit Compote
- How to make Buns ahead of time
- Tips for making Rhubarb Buns all in one day
- FAQ for Rhubarb Custard Buns
- For more Rhubarb Recipes, check out:
- Recipe For Rhubarb Custard Buns
Small Batch Rhubarb Custard Buns
Hi hi! Just popping in to share the recipe for these small batch rhubarb custard buns! I made these during peak rhubarb season, but the recipe is super versatile, so you could easily make these with another fruit compote too.
This is the first in the series of recipes using my new small batch, no mixer brioche recipe! I have been playing around with this for a long time now, putting it through its paces, and I am super happy with it. It is essentially just a half recipe of my regular brioche, but made by hand rather than in the mixer. I love it, and I hope you do too, and it works perfectly in these rhubarb, custard and streusel buns!
How to make Brioche by hand
The base of these Rhubarb Custard Buns is a small batch, no mixer brioche. It is super easy to make. I have a whole bunch of recipes coming up using it which I am so excited to share!
- Combine dry ingredients - This brioche is pretty standard when it comes to ingredients. All-purpose flour, instant yeast, sugar, salt.
- Add wet ingredients - One egg, lightly beaten, and some milk goes in. The butter is incorporated later.
- Bring together - You want to develop some strength in the dough here. This kneading process will take about 8-10 minutes. Bring the dough together in your bowl then transfer to a work surface and work the dough until it is soft and smooth, and when you press lightly with your finger, the indentation springs back.
- Add the butter - The butter is added to the dough. This step will get super sloppy. Don't worry though. It will come together. Keep kneading and mixing until it comes together. Then give a few more minutes of mixing just to ensure it is mixed in. You want it to pass the window pane test, or to bounce back nicely when you press with a finger.
- Leave to rise - This dough for this purpose works best with a cold rise. I give it some time on the counter first to kick start the rise and then pop it into the fridge.
A plastic or metal bench scraper will be super helpful when you are incorporating the butter in. Just keep scraping up the excess butter and squishing it onto the dough. It will come together.
What is the windowpane test?
The windowpane test is a test to see how well developed a dough is through testing the gluten formation. Well developed dough has a good gluten structure within it, so it is nice and stretchy, or elastic. To perform the windowpane test: rip off a little piece of dough, then stretch it out and hold it up to the light. If it forms a membrane you can see light (or your fingers if you hold them under the dough) through, then you know that the dough is adequately developed. If it is not, keep kneading.
Room temperature vs melted butter in Brioche
I played around with this a lot when I was testing this small batch brioche recipe. Initially I used melted butter as I figured it would be easier to incorporate. However, the dough needs the room temperature butter to be incorporated after the dough has developed strength, rather than having it incorporated at the start. When you add melted butter at the start, the fat coats the flour particles, preventing gluten from forming properly and the dough developing. If you add it in as room temperature after the dough has had a chance to develop, you will have a much stronger dough that is much more versatile.
I ran into this issue when I was testing this dough for use in mini donuts, and realised that adding the butter in once the dough has developed, same as my regular recipe, works much better.
The dough will be super sloppy when you are incorporating the butter but just keep working at it - it will come together!
Super Easy Custard Recipe
I filled these rhubarb custard buns with a small batch custard recipe. Custard is super easy to make - this one relies on both egg yolks and custard powder for thickening. Make sure that you make the custard recipe ahead of time so that it has time to cool down adequately before filling the buns.
Don't worry if your custard looks lumpy when you fill the buns with it. This happens to me too - the custard is totally smooth then when you go to spread it out, it looks lumpy, which happens when it cools. Unless it's lumpy when it comes off the stove (in which case you can either strain it or blend with an immersion blender), the lumps when you spread it out are just cooled bits of custard and they smooth out when you roll it out.
How can you tell when buns are baked?
The easiest way to check if the Rhubarb Custard buns are done is to measure an internal temperature on them. An enriched dough such as brioche will 190°f / 90°c when done inside. I have an instant read thermometer and use it almost every day. Otherwise you can look for other signs of them being done. Baked buns are deeply golden brown and will bounce back a wee bit when you press them.
Optional Flavour Variations with other Fruit Compote
These small batch rhubarb buns are super versatile, and you can switch out the compote with other fruit super easily. You can either make your own compote, or if you want, a store bought jam works great too.
- Apricot or Peach Buns - Use the compote recipe from these buns. You could also roast peaches and then chop them and use that - peaches and apricots go so well with custard!
- Apple Filling - This recipe has a super easy apple filling. This would also work great with pears.
- Berry Filling - This berry balsamic recipe would work great, or you could use a store bought jam or preserve.
- Roasted Strawberries - This recipe has roasted strawberries in it, and they go so well together with custard. Roasted Strawberry, Custard and Streusel buns would be incredible and roasting is a great way to use up any old tired berries.
- Cherries - This filling would work great - cook it a little further down to get rid of a bit more of the moisture.
How to make Buns ahead of time
These Small Batch Rhubarb Brioche Buns have a lot of components that you can make ahead of time. In fact, you can prepare all the components separately, and assemble these when you are ready to bake. The small batch brioche needs a cold rise in order to be easy to work with when rolling it out. The compote and the custard also need time to chill down in order to thicken and cool.
- Make the rhubarb compote and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Combine the streusel ahead of time and keep in a container in the fridge
- Prepare the custard and pop into an airtight container in the fridge to cool and thicken.
- Make the small batch brioche dough the night before and do the first rise in the fridge overnight.
Tips for making Rhubarb Buns all in one day
You can prepare these rhubarb custard buns on the same day you want to bake them. you will just have to make sure everything is cold. The dough needs a minimum of 2 hours in the fridge, then the custard and compote need time to chill. You can spread them into a shallow dish to help speed up the cooling process. Make sure you put a piece of plastic wrap over the surface in order to stop them from forming a skin.
FAQ for Rhubarb Custard Buns
Yes! This is essentially just a half batch of the brioche that I use for my other brioche recipes. Double the other components as written.
Yes - if you want you can roll the dough to 14"x14" (35cmx35cm), then cut the dough into 9 and arrange in an 8"x8" pan.
You can use an equal weight of corn starch.
I use this USA pan muffin pan. If you are worried about your pan sticking, you can line it with a little strip of parchment paper to help release. I just give mine a good grease with melted butter and a pastry brush.
Because of the smaller quantity of dough, it can be hard to tell if the dough has risen. I like to take a photo of it before I start rising it just to compare as it sometimes doesn't look like it has risen loads.
Yes, you can use the same amount but you will have to activate it. Pop it in the lukewarm water with the sugar and leave to sit for about 10 minutes until foamy, then proceed with the rest of the recipe.
Brown sugar will work great in the place of it - just do a 1:1 sub.
Yes. This will feel super counter intuitive, but it is what you do to make space for the compote.
Yes! The process is exactly the same as my regular brioche recipe
For more Rhubarb Recipes, check out:
❤️ Made this recipe and love it? ❤️
I would LOVE for you to leave me a review and star rating below to let me know how you liked it! Also, please make sure to tag me on Instagram!
Answers to your baking questions
Over the years, many of you have asked me questions about:
- baking in grams
- adjusting oven temperatures
- what kind of salt to use
- and many more!
I've curated and answered them all for your easy reference in this frequently asked questions post!
Recipe For Rhubarb Custard BunsPrint
Rhubarb Custard Buns
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours
- Yield: 7 Servings 1x
- Category: Small Batch
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
These Small Batch Rhubarb Custard Buns are a great project. The Small Batch Brioche can be made with no mixer, and they are filled with a pastry cream recipe which makes a perfect creamy filling. These small batch buns are topped with a rhubarb compote and a small batch streusel. This recipe is super versatile and can be made with any fruit puree or compote.
- 400g chopped fresh rhubarb
- 200g granulated sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
- pinch of salt
- 55g sugar
- 23g custard powder
- 60g egg yolks
- 205g whole milk
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
- ¼ tsp salt
- 10g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 290g all-purpose flour
- 30g granulated sugar
- 1 tsp (3.1g) instant yeast
- ½ tsp (2g) salt
- 120g whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 large egg (60g), lightly whisked
- 60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 25g turbinado sugar (raw sugar)
- 25g light or dark brown sugar
- 65g all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 35g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- Place the rhubarb, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium saucepan.
- Place over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until the rhubarb has broken down and the mixture is thick and jammy, about 6-8 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and transfer to an airtight container and place in the fridge to chill completely.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and custard powder. Add the egg yolks and whisk until combined.
- In a medium pot, warm the milk, vanilla bean paste and salt until there is movement just around the edges of the milk - do not bring it to the boil.
- Remove the milk from the heat, and, whisking constantly, add half of the milk mixture into the egg and custard mixture to temper the egg yolks. Whisk briskly for 30 seconds. Transfer the milk-yolk mixture back to the pot, and return to a medium heat. Whisk constantly until very thick.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, mixing well until totally combined.
- Transfer to an airtight container and press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface. Refrigerate until completely chilled, ideally overnight.
- Place all ingredients except for the butter into a medium bowl. Bring together into a rough dough, then turn out onto a work surface (do not add more flour).
- Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes. It will start off as very rough, then will come together and become smooth and elastic, and when pressed lightly with a finger, the dough should spring back slightly.
- Flatten the dough out into a rough rectangle and add the butter to the surface of the dough. This part will get sloppy, so make sure that you have a bench scraper nearby. Incorporate the butter into the dough by squeezing it and kneading it in. Keep scraping any excess butter back onto the dough and kneading it in. Don’t freak out. It will all work together.
- Once the butter has incorporated into the dough, knead for a further 2-3 minutes.
- Shape the dough into a ball and then transfer to a lightly buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Leave to sit on the counter for about 20 minutes to kick start the rising process, then transfer to the fridge to rise for at least two hours, and up to overnight.
- Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and mix to incorporate until the mixture forms clumps. Place into an airtight container and store in the fridge until ready to use.
- Grease a muffin pan with melted butter and a brush - you need 7 holes of the pan filled. If you are worried about the buns sticking, you can place a small piece of parchment paper into the cup of each pan to help with removal. I like to leave a gap between rolls where I can - with 7 holes in a 12 cup muffin pan there will be some with rolls next to each other.
- Remove the custard filling from the fridge and mix well to remove any lumps.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Press into a rectangle using your rolling pin to kick start the rolling process.
- Roll the dough into a 12"x14" (30cmx35cm) rectangle, stopping to square off the edges as you go.
- Spread the custard filling over the surface of the dough evenly using an offset spatula.
- Starting from the long side, roll up the dough into a tight log.
- Measure the log, and cut into 7 2" (5cm) rolls. Place each into the hole of a muffin pan.
- Lightly cover the pan with plastic wrap or a plastic bag, and leave in a warm spot to rise until the rolls are puffy and when lightly pressed with a finger, an indentation that springs back slightly is left. This should take around 45 minutes to an hour, but will depend on the temperature of your kitchen.
- While the rolls are proofing, preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c.
- Once the rolls are risen, press down the centre of each using your fingers or the back of a spoon. This will feel very counter intuitive.
- Fill each cavity with about 1 Tbsp of the rhubarb compote. Top with about 1 Tbsp of the streusel mixture.
- Once the rolls have had their compote and streusel added, place into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the buns are golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the dough reads at about 190°f / 90°c (make sure you are poking it into the dough rather than the rhubarb filling).
- Remove the buns from the oven and leave to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, before removing from the muffin pan and leaving on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.
See the blog post for alternative flavour combinations - you can replace the rhubarb compote with a compote of your choice.
Keywords: Custard, Pastry Cream, Rhubarb, Small Batch Baking, Brioche, Custard Buns, Rhubarb Compote
Love that these are small batch!! thank you so so much!!
I can't wait to try these with all the fillings!!
Hi! Love your recipes! Will the brioche recipe work with a mixer and knead attachment? Rather than manually kneading? Ta!
Hi hi! Yessss just use the exact same process as my regular brioche!
I just made these today with strawberry compote and they are divine! Not too sweet but soo tasty! Thank you 💕
Thank you for the beautiful idea. I did it with my own dough recipe. It turned out wonderful. The only thing the custard nearly disappeared after baking. Do you have an idea why. Thank you
Hi! If it's not my recipe you used as a base I'm not too sure sorry!
These turned out fantastic!! Erin was quite correct in her description when she said they were a project! If you've got a mixer I would recommend using it for the dough, as manually kneading the dough from start to finish took me almost 50 mins. Might have something to do with my technique, but I got that gluten window in the end! Before adding the butter, the dough was quite sticky and I had to resist the urge to add some flour, as pointed out in the carefully written recipe notes. The dough came together to be smooth and puffy. I almost gave up after adding the butter, but I kept on because in Erin we trust! And I'm sure glad I did because these buns turns out absolutely amazing and I enjoyed them immensely, as did everyone I shared them with. The dough was soft and golden, the custard was creamy and the rhubarb compute was tart, yet sweet, with an irresistible crunch from the crumble topping. 10/10 will make again.
Hi! Ahhhh yay so happy you loved them! It usually takes me about 15 min to do the dough - will post my tutorial on IG soonish! x
Hi can I leave out the fruit filling as a whole and just make the dough with custard and the streusel?
I haven’t tried it but it should work!
Made these today and they turned out so perfect! If you’re skeptical about weighing everything out, don’t be! It makes all the difference. Def making again xx
So happy you loved! x
Delicious! Super versatile, I ended up just doing lemon sugar in between the layers (instead of custard) and then instead of streusel I put the mascarpone topping from the Rhubard Sticky Buns recipe. I loved the blobs on rhubarb in the rolls
As always, Erin knocks it out of the park with her super detailed recipes and how-to videos. I felt slightly anxious for a bit kneading the butter into the dough so late in the game and also with the mini-rise but Erin had already pre-empted us with this and so "in Erin with trust!" It came together BEAUTIFULLY. The brioche was fluffy, the custard+fruit (I used roasted fresh berries and peach) combo was delish, and streusel crumb added the nicest crunch. My family's only request? "Make more next time!" Looks like I'll have to double this small batch hahaha. Thanks, Erin, for another ace recipe!
Yayyyyy thank you thank you! So happy you loved!!
These look amazing! Is there anything I could substitute for the custard powder?
Hi! I popped that in the FAQ section!
So excited for tomorrow to assemble! I ended up making a double batch to share with neighbors! If I made a double batch dough would I roll out to 24x28?? And cut out 14 rolls?
Hi! No you would roll out to 28"x12" and roll up from the long side. You need to keep the width the same or you'd end up with a massive massive thick sausage of dough
Thank makes so much sense! Pregnancy has me a little slow and bad at math!! Thank you for clarifying!!!!
No worries! 🙂
Hi I have made these several times and they are amazing. One question - do you think I can substitute some whole wheat flour for the all purpose?
Made these today and they were great! The only problem I had was that they sunk in the middle a bit about 15 minutes after coming out the oven. Any ideas what I did wrong? I thought maybe I didn't roll them right enough?
Hi! Hmmm sounds like they might have been a little under baked? Mine did sink a little in the middle but not loads!
Made these per Erin's instructions and they were delicious. I'm excited to use this brioche dough recipe again as it really was fool-proof.
Yay I am so happy you love! There's a bunch of recipes using this same dough on the site already! We love a good base recipe x
I Love your recipes!! I want to make your rhubarb custard muffins and I haven't been able to find any rhubarb, so I was wondering if I could use strawberries? I wanted to make strawberry rhubarb custard muffins but since I can't find any rhubarb.
Hi hi! There is a section in this post with how to use other fruit! 🙂
Thank you so very much!
Great recipe, thank you! I filled these with lemon curd and they turned out great.
Do you have any tips for rolling out the dough as evenly as you do? How do you get such tidy, even layers?
Hi! So happy you loved! Shape the dough into a rectangle before you roll it out, it makes it a lot easier!