Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Rhubarb is, for me, the culinary harbinger of spring.   Last year I made some rhubarb tarts, which I dressed up with a pistachio crumble and a little whipped cream.  Looking forward to the weekend I decided on an old-fashioned upside-down cake and I am very pleased with the results.  The cake is light and tender, and the rhubarb topping is tart, sweet, and pretty enough for a special occasion.  If you are entertaining and need a seasonal specialty for brunch or dessert, this is the answer.  Serve it just slightly warm, with strawberry ice cream, and your guests will be very happy indeed.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake
(makes 1 9-inch cake which will serve 8 to 10)
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, more to grease the pan
1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, rinsed and sliced into 1/2 inch cubes (about 4 cups)
3 tablespoons of finely minced candied ginger
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Heat the oven to 325F.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.  Butter the paper and the sides of the pan.  Warp two layers of foil under the pan, and place it on a buttered baking sheet.  In a medium bowl, mix the rhubarb, cornstarch, candied ginger, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar.  Mix the brown sugar and 1/2 stick of butter in a pan over medium heat.  Whisk until smooth an bubbling, about 2 minutes.  Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and ground ginger.  Whip 2 sticks of butter in a mixer with a paddle attachment for 2 minutes.  Add the lemon zest and the remaining 1 cup of sugar and cream together with the butter until it is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl halfway through.  Add the vanilla and mix well.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Mix in the sour cream, then the lemon juice.  (It’s okay if the mixture looks curdled.)  With the mixer set to low speed, add the flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, until well combined.  Scrape down the mixer bowl in between the additions.  Pour the brown-sugar mixture into the cake pan, then spoon in the rhubarb and its juices.  Spoon in the batter so it covers all of the rhubarb.  Carefully smooth the top.  Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the top of the cake is firm to touch and a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out without any large, moist crumbs.  Place the pan on a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes.  Run a knife around the cake, place a plate on top of the pan and turn it upside-down.  Release the cake from the pan while still warm or else it will stick.
(minimally adapted from Melissa Clark at the New York Times)



  • Lynn Huntley

    What a wonderful way to use Rhubarb~ I am a huge fan of Rhubarb and I will definitely try this recipe for Rhubarb Upside Down Cake~ maybe with a scoop of ice cream on top:) Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

  • The Devil's Food Advocate

    Thank you Lynn,
    It’s a nice big cake, perfect for a pot luck or family brunch or dinner. And it’s great with ice cream, especially strawberry. It’s nice to meet another rhubarb fan πŸ™‚

  • Renee

    I love love love it when my rhubarb starts to pop out of the ground! It’s destined for gorgeous cakes like this.

  • Lynn Huntley

    Yes~ I love that too:) I look for the shoots every spring….even though I know they haven’t come up yet:) A few days ago I posted a recipe on my blog for Spicy Rhubarb Jam…I love it on Beer Bread;) Lynn~

  • Carole

    Hi, this is a great post. I wondered if you would like to link it in to the new Food on Friday which is running right now over at Carole’s Chatter. We are collecting recipes using rhubarb. This is the link . I hope you pop over to check it out. There are lots of great recipes already linked in.

  • Carolann Lewis

    have you tried using frozen rhubarb? When it’s not in season I didn’t know if frozen would work or not.

    • donna

      Carolann, I think you could give the frozen rhubarb a try. It would have to be thawed and very well drained, and the finished texture might be a bit softer than fresh rhubarb. I would go for it! Best of luck.

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