Rhubarb Rosewater Yeasted Cake

Working with yeast can be quite intimidating. You never really know for sure exactly how it's going to turn out, or if they dough will even rise. But the suspense is half the fun, no? After making pizza twice last week, I was feeling confident enough to try making an yeasted cake.

This sort of yeasted cake is apparently called a 'coffee cake' in America, which is slightly puzzling as they don't have to be coffee-flavoured. I guess the idea is you eat them with coffee? I don't know. Whatever it is, I've always been fascinated by yeasted cakes. I've heard that they have a more tender crumb than normal baking powder-risen cakes. 

Rhubarb is now in season, finally!! I love love love rhubarb. It just tastes like nothing else, it's got that perfect tart flavour. I also bought some rosewater recently and decided it would bring out the slightly floral flavour of the rhubarb. And anyway, that pink colour is just crying out for some rose. 

The idea was to roll up the cake with the rhubarb and rosewater filling, but add some cream cheese. However, I forgot to buy the damn cheese, so it's just rhubarb and rosewater cake. It was still so good. The cake was super soft and buttery, and it went so well with the tart, fragrant filling. It's a bit of work, but completely worth it. 

Rhubarb and Rosewater Yeasted Cake

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

For the cake dough:

7g (one packet) fast action yeast

90g caster sugar

180ml milk

1 large egg + 1 extra egg yolk

500g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

125g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

For filling:

400g rhubarb stalks, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks

5-7 tablespoons sugar, to taste

1/2 teaspoon rosewater

Egg wash:

1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons milk

Start making the cake dough.

Warm up the milk to about 44 degrees C (about the temperature of a warm bath - I test it with the back of my hand). 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, salt and yeast. 

Whisk the egg and egg yolk together with the caster sugar until well combined. Pour into the flour and yeast and turn the mixer on. With the mixer going, pour in the warm milk. 

Switch to the dough hook attachment. Add the softened butter, and knead using the mixer for about 10 minutes, until the dough is soft, smooth and slightly sticky.

Butter the inside of a large bowl. Lightly flour a working surface, turn the dough out onto it and knead lightly a few times. Transfer the ball of dough to the buttered bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a a warm place until it is doubled in size. This takes about an hour to 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling.

Put the rhubarb pieces in a pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pieces have all broken down and it looks like jam. This takes about 15-20 minutes. Now, add the sugar gradually. I would start with 3 tablespoons and then taste a little. Keep adding sugar until you have reached your desired sweetness. The cake dough isn't very sweet, so bear that in mind. I add about 6 tablespoons, personally.

Take the rhubarb off the heat, and let it cool. Once it's cooled, stir in the rosewater.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. 

Punch your dough down lightly and transfer to a floured work surface. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Flour a rolling pin and roll out to an 18-inch square, about 1cm thick. Brush egg wash around the edges. 

Transfer the dough onto the baking tray you're going to use. Spread the rhubarb filling over the dough, leaving a 1 inch margin around the edges. Tightly roll the dough up, like a Swiss roll. Coil it into a snail shape. Cover with clingfilm, and let it sit until it's risen in size by half. This takes about 20-30 minutes.

Remove the clingfilm and brush the the top with egg wash. Cut six slits into the top of the dough. 

Place the baking tray with the cake on it into the oven. Bake for 40 minutes, until golden brown on top. Reduce the oven temperature to 160 degrees C and bake for another 30 minutes. 

Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Once completely cool, drizzle with icing:

1 cup icing sugar

2 tablespoons milk

Whisk the icing sugar and milk together until it forms a slightly runny icing. Drizzle with a spoon.