Spiced Rhubarb Cake

Shop Ingredients


About 350g  rhubarb, trimmed
140g caster sugar
Finely grated zest from medium lemon
55g unsalted butter
2 pinches of salt

Cake :
85g unsalted butter, softened
125g light or dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
A few gratings of fresh nutmeg
1/2 cup buttermilk – an easy alternative is 1/2 cup animal/plant based milk mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice/vinegar
1 cup plain flour
½ cup almond meal  (you can sub this for plain flour if you prefer)


This upside-down spiced rhubarb cake looks super impressive but is easy to make – no fussing with frosting! The warming spices combined with the jammy, tart rhubarb make it the perfect autumn/winter tea cake. It’s best served on the day it’s baked but will keep for three days (it just won’t look so show-stoppingly pretty). 


Spiced Rhubarb Cake

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line and grease a 25cm spring form cake tin. 

For the topping: Trim your rhubarb to lengths that will fit across the bottom of a 25cm springform cake tin; you should have enough for a double layer. Cut each stalk lengthwise into thin (about 1 cm thick) ribbons. 

Sprinkle sugar into a frypan and add lemon zest; use your fingers to mix the zest into the sugar (the grit of the sugar will help release the most flavour from it). Add butter and salt and cook over medium heat until the butter has melted, stirring frequently. Add rhubarb and cook, turning gently to keep the lengths intact, for 3 to 4 minutes, until it has softened slightly and released some of its liquid. Carefully layer the tender stalks into the lined cake tin followed by the buttery, lemony sauce. Set aside. 

For the cake: In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla, beating until combined. Sprinkle mixture with baking powder, salt, and all the spices and fold to combine. Then add buttermilk, and fold again – the mixture will have a curdled texture but don’t worry, it’ll even out in the baking. Scrape down the bowl and add flour and almond meal; fold until just combined.

Check your rhubarb base to make sure all the pieces are in the order you’d like them to be, then dollop cake batter over rhubarb mixture in spoonfuls and smooth top as best as you can – don’t fuss with it too much as it will even out by itself in the oven. 

Bake cake for about 35 minutes, until a toothpick, inserted into the cake (but not the topping underneath) comes out batter-free. Transfer cake (still in cake tin) to a cooling rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges to loosen and remove the outside of the cake tin. Place a larger plate upside down over the cake and use two hands to invert the cake out onto it. If any rhubarb is stuck in the pan return it to the top of the cake.

Serve warm or at room temperature. This cake is best served on the day it’s baked but will keep for three days (it just won’t look so show-stoppingly pretty). 

This recipe has been adapted from the brilliant Smitten Kitchen’s Rhubarb Upside-Down Spice Cake


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