Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Hello there! Remember me? The person who used to actually blog regularly and post weekly new recipes? It’s been a strange few weeks but I’m happy to report I’m inspired and excited and have lots of wonderful recipes to share.

Earlier this year I mentioned my goal to start knitting, and I’ve become a bit obsessed. (You can check out my knitting projects here or here.)

Also, 3 weeks ago our house was broken into and my camera, among other things, was stolen. Everything is ok now, we have a security system in place that I feel really good about, and I have finally replaced my camera, but it’s been a weird few weeks.

All that aside- spring is almost here in Chicago, (well after the snow we’re supposed to get today,) and that means rhubarb season is upon us!

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile you know how much I love rhubarb.

Yes it’s wonderful when paired with berries, (Strawberry Rhubarb Dump Cake and Mini Raspberry Rhubarb Pavlovas are a couple faves,) but I really love when a dessert let’s it shine on it’s own too.

Enter this cake, which is my new favorite thing ever.

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

It’s an upside down cake, so you layer your pan with sliced rhubarb (macerated with vanilla bean and sugar,) layer it with a thick and creamy batter, and top it with a shortbread-like crumble.

When you invert the cake, the crumble becomes into a crust of sorts, giving each bite lots of layers and dimension, buttery crumble on the bottom, melt-in-your-mouth cake, and then tart and juciy rhubarb on top. It’s really so wonderful.

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

This springy cake would be perfect for a Mother’s Day brunch, or for a not too-sweet afternoon snack with tea.

One note on the pans: I used a 9 inch Springform pan that I lined (on the outside,) with foil. I placed it on a cookie sheet to bake, and still some juices from the rhubarb bubbled up over the top and onto the pan.

A regular round cake pan wont do, you want something with higher edges if possible. Next time I plan to try my bundt cake pan, a 9×9 square baking dish, or my 10 inch round tube pan. 

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Yield: 1 9-inch cake


For the Topping

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Cake

  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons,) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for buttering pan
  • 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut on a very sharp diagonal about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, extract (or vanilla beans scraped from a pod.)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.

For the topping:

  1. Use a fork to stir together the soft butter, flour, sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt until crumbly. Set aside.

For the cake:

  1. Butter and flour your 9 inch pan. Cut 4 tablespoons of butter into bits and dot the bottom of the pan. Toss the rhubarb with 3/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste. Let it sit for a couple minutes and then toss again. Spread rhubarb into the bottom of the pan.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, set aside. Cream the remaining stick of butter and cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add in zest and vanilla. Add eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl.
  4. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, until smooth. (Don't overmix!) Spread evenly over rhubarb. Sprinkle the topping over the batter.
  5. Bake in the middle rack on top of a cookie sheet, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and top springs back when touched, about 1 hour, depending on pan size.
  6. Let cool for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert cake.


*I recommend a 9-inch spring form lined on the inside with foil, a bundt pan, or a 9 inch cake pan with extra high sides!

Recipe barely adapted from Martha Stewart

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. So sorry about your camera getting stolen! I am glad that you are back to taking pictures. This cake is lovely! I really enjoy your blog.

  2. I have made this recipe(from Martha Stewart) several times. It is sooo good and one of my favourites!

  3. I still can’t believe your house was broken into. SO glad you guys weren’t home at the time!! Scary stuff.

    I’m obsessed with how pretty in pink this rhubarb topping is. Gorgeous!

  4. This looks wonderful! I am thinking of making it for my mom, because she loves both rhubarb and lemon. Clearly this is right up her alley!

    Thank you for posting your amazing recipes. I have followed your blog for years, and I am constantly amazed by your cooking and photography talents. I have made several of the recipes you’ve posted (mostly sweets!) and have had great luck with all of them. Thanks so much for helping me to make one of my favorite hobbies more enjoyable, and for sharing your wonderful talents with the world.

  5. I just scored a ton of rhubarb at a local farmer’s market and was looking for some inspiration when I stumbled across this recipe. I am so glad that I did! This cake was amazing and got great reviews at the office. (Even from some rhubarb haters!) The combination of tart rhubarb with the cake and crumble was perfect! Macerating the rhubarb with vanilla bean paste is a game changer, and gave it a great depth of flavor. I was also especially impressed with the cake- slightly dense like you want good coffee cake to be, but with a light, springy crumb structure.

    I did make one tweak with the recipe. The crumble topping was the perfect texture, but I added in cinnamon and ground ginger for some extra oomph, and it turned out great! This recipe is totally a keeper, and I plan to try it with some other fruit combinations once rhubarb season is over.

  6. Delicious. We love rhubarb and I am thrilled add your rhubarb upside down cake to my rhubarb recipe collection.

    Next time I will bake it for 50 min instead of 60. It is still very moist, but seems a little heavy.

    As I write this, we are enjoining it for breakfast with our coffee.

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