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cut open shot of rhubarb custard bun

Rhubarb Custard Buns

  • Author: Erin Clarkson
  • 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.



Rhubarb Compote

  • 400g chopped fresh rhubarb
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
  • pinch of salt

Custard Filling

  • 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

Brioche Dough

  • 290g all-purpose flour
  • 30g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp (3.1g) instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp (2g) salt
  • 120g whole milk 
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 1 large egg (60g), lightly whisked
  • 60g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Streusel Topping

  • 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



  1. Place the rhubarb, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium saucepan.
  2. 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. 
  3. Remove from the heat and transfer to an airtight container and place in the fridge to chill completely. 


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and custard powder. Add the egg yolks and whisk until combined.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, mixing well until totally combined.
  5. Transfer to an airtight container and press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface. Refrigerate until completely chilled, ideally overnight. 


  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Once the butter has incorporated into the dough, knead for a further 2-3 minutes.
  5. 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. 


  1. 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.


  1. 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.
  2. Remove the custard filling from the fridge and mix well to remove any lumps.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Press into a rectangle using your rolling pin to kick start the rolling process. 
  4. Roll the dough into a 12"x14" (30cmx35cm) rectangle, stopping to square off the edges as you go. 
  5. Spread the custard filling over the surface of the dough evenly using an offset spatula. 
  6. Starting from the long side, roll up the dough into a tight log.
  7. Measure the log, and cut into 7 2" (5cm) rolls. Place each into the hole of a muffin pan. 
  8. 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. 
  9. While the rolls are proofing, preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c.
  10. 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. 
  11. Fill each cavity with about 1 Tbsp of the rhubarb compote. Top with about 1 Tbsp of the streusel mixture. 
  12. 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).
  13. 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. 
  14. 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