A pretty and delicious rhubarb upside-down cake, that can be made with fresh rhubarb or frozen rhubarb. Makes a lovely warm rhubarb dessert, that’s perfect for topping with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

upside down rhubarb cake sliced

Why you’ll love this rhubarb upside-down cake!

  • This rhubarb cake has a perfect balance of tart and sweet and lets the full flavour of the rhubarb shine.
  • This rhubarb recipe is a great way to use up a bunch of rhubarb, as it uses a full 3 cups of rhubarb. You can use fresh or frozen rhubarb for this cake.
  • This upside down cake makes a pretty and delicious dessert, especially when served slightly warm with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

Ingredients and substitutions

Rhubarb – You can use fresh or frozen rhubarb for this cake. Be sure to read the instructions for frozen rhubarb in the Recipe Card below.

Strawberry Jam – strawberry jam provides the nicest flavour complement to the rhubarb, but if you don’t have strawberry, a seedless raspberry jam will also work.

Step-by-step photos

This is a visual walk-through of the steps to make this recipe. Always refer to the complete instructions in the Recipe Card below when making the recipe, as all steps may not be illustrated here.

Step 1: Prepare the pan Start with a 9-inch round cake pan. Rub the bottom and sides generously with softened butter. Sprinkle sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan.

photo collage of steps to make upside down rhubarb cake 1

Step 2: Prepare the rhubarb Dice the rhubarb into 1/2-inch pieces. Warm strawberry jam briefly in the microwave to thin, then pour over the rhubarb. Stir well to coat. Pour into the prepared pan and spread into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.

photo collage of steps to make upside down rhubarb cake 2

Step 3: Make the cake batter In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs and vanilla.

photo collage of steps to make upside down rhubarb cake 3

Step 4: Finish batter and add to pan To finish the cake batter, add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk until well combined. Spoon batter over top of the rhubarb layer and spread out evenly. Bake and enjoy!

photo collage of steps to make upside down rhubarb cake 4

Recipe tips

  • I use a 9-inch round cake pan for this rhubarb upside-down cake recipe and it is a perfect fit. An 8-inch round pan would almost certainly be too small. A 10-inch cake pan may work, though the layers of both fruit and cake will be thinner. Alternatively, you can use a deep dish pie plate of a similar diameter (high-sided).
  • Be sure to reduce the oven temperature by 25F if using a glass pan.
  • I always bake this one on top of a baking sheet, just in case! It doesn’t bubble up much at all, but the batter in a 9-inch pan is quite full, so I always want to have a little oven protection, if needed.
upside down rhubarb cake sliced

Making ahead, storing and freezing

This cake is best enjoyed on the day it is baked. After about 24 hours, the cake part seems a little drier, but after that, the moisture from the fruit adds additional moisture to the crumb while it sits, so it’s actually quite good for another day or more after that.

I store this cake on the counter. You could refrigerate, but I always find refrigeration speeds up the drying process.

I haven’t frozen this cake, but I feel like it might be an option if you are concerned about wasting leftovers.

upside down rhubarb cake sliced

Get the Recipe: Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

A pretty and delicious rhubarb upside down cake, that can be made with fresh rhubarb or frozen rhubarb. Makes a lovely warm rhubarb dessert!
5 stars from 3 ratings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh or thawed frozen rhubarb, or thawed frozen rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, for the pan
  • 1/4 cup strawberry jam
  • 1/4 cup white sugar, for the pan

For the cake batter:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, reduce to 1/4 tsp if using salted butter
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk

For garnish:

  • Icing/confectioners’ sugar, for garnish, optional

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350F. *Reduce temperature to 325F if using a glass pan.
  • *For frozen rhubarb, thaw in a colander to allow excess moisture to drain off, then pat dry well. Don't squeeze the rhubarb at any point, so it will retain its shape.
  • Prepare a 9-inch round cake pan by coating both the bottom and sides with softened butter. (You can also use a deep dish pie plate or similar diameter. Note that an 8-inch pan will almost certainly be too small to hold all the batter.) Sprinkle white sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the diced rhubarb to a large bowl. Microwave the jam for 30 seconds to thin it, then pour over the rhubarb. Stir to coat the rhubarb well in the jam. Pour the rhubarb mixture into the pan, spreading into an even layer. Set aside.
  • Make the cake batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl with an electric mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar at medium speed until lightened, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions and be sure to scrape the bowl, as needed. Add the vanilla and mix in.
  • With mixer on low, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of the milk. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the remaining milk, then the remaining flour. Mix just until combined.
  • Spoon batter over-top of rhubarb in pan and spread out to an even layer.
  • Place cake pan on top of a baking sheet (just in case!).
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the cake tests clean (be sure to test just the cake part and don't test too far down so that you hit the rhubarb layer). The cake should be quite golden.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to stand in the pan for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, then place a large plate over-top of the cake pan. Invert the cake onto the plate.
  • Serve warm, garnished with a dusting of icing sugar and/or a dollop of sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Notes

This rhubarb cake is best enjoyed on the day it is baked, but will keep pretty well covered on the counter for 2-3 days.
Be sure to read the information above this recipe card for more tips on making this recipe!
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Course: Dessert
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 364kcal, Carbohydrates: 46g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 91mg, Sodium: 173mg, Potassium: 322mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 26g, Vitamin A: 650IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 123mg, Iron: 2mg
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