Grandpa’s Rhubarb Cake

Grandpa’s Rhubarb Cake

Rhubarb, how do I love thee, let me count the ways…

Rhubarb crisp

Rhubarb compote

Rhubarb ginger jam

Strawberry rhubarb pie

Rhubarb fresh from the garden dipped in a bit of sugar…

and of course, this Rhubarb Cake recipe from my Grandpa.

This is a really simple cake recipe studded with pieces of fresh, tangy rhubarb.   Grandpa grew up in Iowa during the depression, and remembers his mother making this cake for him as a boy.  Apparently it’s an old pioneer recipe from much earlier days in America.  I remember eating big squares of this cake with coffee while visiting him at his farm.

This cake is not a fussy, fancy, complicated cake.  It’s rustic and sweet and delicious.  It’s a family cake.

The original recipe calls for a 9×13 cake pan, which is still my favorite way to have this cake.  But I’ve also tried it as muffins, as you can see from the picture.  The muffins were quite soft, so if you do decide to try muffins over a cake, be sure to let them cool completely first to firm up.

Old Fashioned Rhubarb Cake

1/2 c. (110g) butter
1 1/4 c.  (275g) sugar
1 egg
1 c. (250ml) buttermilk (In a pinch, I use regular milk and a squeeze of lemon juice)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. (270g) flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 c. (250g) chopped rhubarb

In a mixing bowl cream butter and 1 c. sugar.
Add egg; beat well.  Add vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda.

Add this to the creamed mixture, mixing until incorporated.  Add the buttermilk and stir to get a smooth batter.

Stir in rhubarb.

Spread in a greased 9×13 baking pan (or in lined muffin tins).
Combine the remaining sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle over batter.
Bake at 350F (180c) for 35min. or until cake tests done by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cake.

It’s rhubarb season!  What are your favorite ways to eat rhubarb? Let us know in the comments.

About the author

Amanda Cook is an author, entrepreneur, and alchemist. She helps successful women create lives of meaning & magic by connecting with the seasons. Her work has appeared on BBC Radio 4, The Sunday Telegraph, Natural Health UK Magazine, and more. Learn more at

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  1. I love rhubarb pie or even rhubarb/strawberry pie……….my favorites!

  2. I’m in Australia and love rhubarb. I love it stewed and then mix it with raw rolled oats and have it for breakfast. Yum! And of course stewed rhubarb and apple together is bliss.

    Or stewed rhubarb and ice cream!

  3. Duong, you haven’t tried rhubarb either?! Yes,definitely pick up a tarte au rhubarbe in Paris, delicieuse!

  4. Wow, it looks so good. I love sour cake but I’ve never tried rhubarb cake, we don’t have it in VN. I should buy some from the boulangerie over here.

  5. Laurie, no rhubarb??? Next time you come for a visit, I will make a strawberry-rhubarb crisp (my absolute favorite ever!!)

    Wendy… not sure! I never ate that much of it as a kid, but I remember we’d always eat it raw in sugar, fresh from the garden.

  6. “Rhubarb fresh from the garden dipped in a bit of sugar…”
    i was always told that raw rhubarb would give me a tummy ache?!! maybe it was to stop me eating it before my mum could cook it! it is her favourite!

  7. I’ve actually never tried Rhubarb. Where I’m from–the hot and spicy south–Rhubarb is a rare find (or at least it was when I lived there). I’ll introduced myself to Rhubarb with your recipe, that is once I find someone to lend me their oven. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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