Table of Contents
  1. Why this recipe works.
  2. Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
  3. Here’s how to make this recipe.
  4. These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
  5. Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
  6. You'll love these other rhubarb recipes.
  7. Watch how to make this recipe.
  8. Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
  9. Rhubarb Buttermilk Cake Recipe

When rhubarb is in season, there are innumerable ways to use it. But this easy-to-make rhubarb buttermilk cake may be one of the best ways! With bite-sized pieces of rhubarb and a sweet cinnamon sugar topping, the batter comes together quickly with little fuss. Once baked, the cake puffs up slightly to form the perfect spring dessert. 

Why this recipe works.

My earliest memory of rhubarb is eating this cake. Growing up, this cake was a mainstay every spring when mom would start picking rhubarb and using it in various recipes. Originally this recipe came from my great-grandma, who was a master of never wasting anything. This cake allowed her to use two items that were in abundance. Buttermilk from making butter and rhubarb from the garden. Over the years, I have worked on the recipe. Rhubarb has a high percentage of water that can seep into the cake and create a dense wet crumb. This recipe starts by mixing the rhubarb with a small amount of salt. The salt will leech out excess water from the rhubarb be it goes into the batter. The batter is simple, with just enough sugar to sweeten the rhubarb but allow all the flavor to shine.

Loaf of rhubarb buttermilk cake sitting on white piece of parchment on white surface.

Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Rhubarb
  • White and brown sugar
  • Buttermilk
White marble surface filled with all ingredients needed to make rhubarb buttermilk cake including rhubarb, eggs, flour, sugars, spices, buttermilk, and more.

Here’s how to make this recipe.

  1. Prepare the rhubarb. Slice the rhubarb into ¼-inch thick pieces. Place the pieces of sliced rhubarb in a colander set on top of a plate and sprinkle salt over the top. Work the salt into the rhubarb to ensure each piece is evenly coated. Allow the rhubarb to macerate in the salt for at least 45 minutes up to 1 hour. As it sits, the red liquid will drip onto the plate.
  1. Prepare the batter. In a large bowl, combine the butter, white granulated sugar, and light brown sugar. Using a whisk, work the sugars into the butter until roughly creamed. Once mixed, add in the eggs, and whisk each one into the batter before adding the next. Then add the vanilla extract, salt, flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix together the dry ingredients and finish by pouring in the buttermilk. 
  1. Mix in the rhubarb. Once the batter is fully combined, add in the pieces of rhubarb. Using a spatula, fold everything together. Then portion half of the batter into each greased loaf pan, using the spatula to smooth out the top into an even layer. In a separate bowl, combine the cinnamon and white granulated sugar and mix until combined. Sprinkle this cinnamon sugar mixture on top of each loaf.
  1. Bake the cake. Place both loaf pans in the preheated 350°F oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes. Once baked, remove and let cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

These pro tips will make this recipe a success.

  • If your rhubarb stalks have varying widths, slice those stalks that are extra wide in half. This will ensure the rhubarb bakes evenly in the cake without retaining its crunchy texture.
  • After macerating the rhubarb for up to 1 hour, if not much liquid has pooled on the plate, you can pick up a handful of the rhubarb and squeeze it. This will release additional liquid that will drip through the colander.
  • Having the butter at room temperature will allow the sugars and butter to cream much easier and allow this to be made by hand. Simply set the butter on the counter for 1 to 2 hours before beginning to prepare the cake to allow it to soften.
White marble surface filled with slices of rhubarb buttermilk cake sitting on top of a piece of white parchment paper with small bowl of chopped rhubarb to the side.

Frequently asked questions about this recipe.

Can this cake be baked in a pan other than a loaf pan? Can it be made in one loaf pan rather than two?

Can frozen rhubarb be used instead of fresh rhubarb?

Can nuts be added to this cake? What nuts would work well?

Can this cake be frozen once baked?

Whole loaf of rhubarb buttermilk cake sitting on piece of white parchment showing cinnamon sugar topping before being sliced.

Watch how to make this recipe.

More rhubarb recipes

Have I convinced you to make this recipe?

I hope you make this recipe and put some food on your table. Leave a comment and share a star rating so you can let others know how much you love this recipe. This helps show others that this is a recipe they, too, can make, enjoy, and love!

Slices of rhubarb buttermilk cake resting against one another on white parchment paper on marble surface.

Rhubarb Buttermilk Cake

5 from 7 votes
When rhubarb is in season, there are innumerable ways to use it. But this easy-to-make rhubarb buttermilk cake may be one of the best ways! With bite-sized pieces of rhubarb and a sweet cinnamon sugar topping, the batter comes together quickly with little fuss. Once baked, the cake puffs up slightly to form the perfect spring dessert.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Macerate Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 16 servings

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt separated
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb

For the topping

  • ¼ cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions
 

  • Sprinkle 1 tsp of salt over the chopped rhubarb and mix to combine. Pour the rhubarb into a colander fitted over a bowl to catch the liquid. Allow the rhubarb to macerate until about ¼ to ⅓ cup of liquid accumulates, 45-60 minutes. Once the rhubarb has macerated, discard the liquid and make the cake.
    2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • Butter two 8 ½ x 4 ½ loaf pans and set them aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, combine the butter, white granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Using a whisk or a mixer, beat the mixture until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add one egg and mix to incorporate. Repeat with the second egg and vanilla extract.
    ½ cup unsalted butter, ½ cup white granulated sugar, ½ cup light brown sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • To the wet ingredients, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and ½ tsp salt. Whisk to combine and slowly add the buttermilk while folding. Once the buttermilk is added, add the prepared rhubarb and fold until it is just mixed in. Pour the batter into the two prepared loaf pans and spread the top of each one to an even layer.
    2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, ½ tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp kosher salt, 1 cup buttermilk
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the white granulated sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the two cakes.
    ¼ cup white granulated sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Bake at 350°F for 45-55 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Once baked, remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

Notes

  • If your rhubarb stalks have varying widths, slice those stalks that are extra wide in half. This will ensure the rhubarb bakes evenly in the cake without retaining its crunchy texture.
  • After macerating the rhubarb for up to 1 hour, if not much liquid has pooled on the plate, you can pick up a handful of the rhubarb and squeeze it. This will release additional liquid that will drip through the colander.
  • Having the butter at room temperature will allow the sugars and butter to cream much easier and allow this to be made by hand. Simply set the butter on the counter for 1 to 2 hours before beginning to prepare the cake to allow it to soften.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 205kcal
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Difficulty Intermediate
Method Baking

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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7 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Loved the cake! It’s very similar to one my mom made when I was growing up. Will try to macerate the rhubarb with sugar next time though, it tasted a little salty. Mom used to make in a 9 x 13 pan, it did get soggy when she made it. Getting some of the water out of the rhubarb helped greatly! Thank you for a great recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    Delicious. I used 3cups of rhubarb because that is what came in from the garden and I wanted more pieces per slice. I was wary of the salt as we use it sparingly, but it was fine. Got maybe 3T of liquid. I can understand about the gummy issue, but this seemed to solve it. Will definitely be making this again.!

  3. This was delicious! Nice and light… had people who normally don’t like rhubarb eating it! Definitely will make again😊

  4. Hello! I am on an aromatase inhibitor as part of my breast cancer treatment. As rhubarb is rich in Vitamin K, this vegetable helps to keep bones strong, so helpful in taking this type of medication.

    This cake is delicious, fun to bake, and so good for us! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  5. 5 stars
    Made this today. It was excellent. Everyone loved it. My 92 yr old father (who has a sweet tooth) and 88 yr old mother both told me to keep it on rotation. Thank you for a wonderful recipe. Made this as 1 large loaf and it worked perfect.

  6. 5 stars
    Made this cake in an Angel food cake pan. It was delicious. Next time I will add 1 cup more of diced rhubarb. Flipped the cake out on a plate then slid on a cake pedestal .