Table of Contents
  1. What is a coffee cake?
  2. Why does rhubarb work in this cake?
  3. Watch how to make this coffee cake
  4. Rhubarb Coffee Cake Recipe

I have grown up with the mentality that when rhubarb is in season, you think of every way to use it: jam, sauce (yes rhubarb sauce is a thing and people that love it, love it), and numerous baked goods. For jam and sauce, rhubarb is perfect! The thin cell walls of rhubarb contain a lot of moisture and break down quickly. While great for jams, this can be a challenge for cakes, bread, and muffins. The rhubarb can leech a lot of excess water into the baked good and if not accounted for, the result can be heavy and wet.

But don’t worry: this coffee cake is just right! It’s soft and moist but not heavy or wet. The perfect recipe for success!

Close up view of interior of coffee cake with pieces of rhubarb within all on white surface

What is a coffee cake?

Originally, coffee cake in England was a sponge cake made using coffee. Imagine that! In American culture, we refer to coffee cake as any cake we eat for breakfast. Logical right? Never fully frosted, sometimes glazed, and if we’re talking a truly classic version, sprinkled with a streusel topping.

I view coffee cake as a treat and love to have it as an option for brunch or a way to enjoy the season… like with rhubarb. Often, the texture is light and spongy and has a slight spice with cinnamon. That’s why including cinnamon in this recipe was of the utmost importance!

Close up top down view of coffee cake with streusel topping dotted with pieces of chopped rhubarb

Why does rhubarb work in this cake?

When I was young, we used an old recipe to make a rhubarb cake. The cake often turned out as I described earlier: wet and heavy, almost to the point that no matter how much the pan was greased, the cake would stick. As the rhubarb baked, all the liquid oozed out into the batter and the excess liquid already in the recipe would not allow the rhubarb liquid to escape. It was a mess!

This coffee cake has just the right amount of rhubarb and not much excess liquid. Instead of milk or buttermilk, sour cream is the only other liquid. The batter is thick and holds up to the rhubarb. And just to be sure, as an extra precaution, the rhubarb is sprinkled with a small amount of flour to help soak up the liquid.

Side view of piece of rhubarb coffee cake after being pulled from white baking dish being held by hand

Watch how to make this coffee cake

Top down view of coffee cake with pieces of rhubarb on top sitting in white baking dish all on white surface

Rhubarb Coffee Cake

4.12 from 9 votes
While not a traditional coffee cake with the addition of rhubarb, this recipe does not disappoint! The perfect balance of moisture and flavor combine for a tart yet sweet treat!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 55 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Servings 12 servings

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup white granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 cups + 1 tbsp flour separated
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ cup butter cold, cut into pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×9" baking dish and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the white sugar, brown sugar, 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  • Add the pieces of cold butter and cut them into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles wet sand with pieces of butter the size of a pea or smaller. Remove 1 ¼ cups of the mixture and set aside.
  • To the remaining crumbled mixture left in the bowl, add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Whisk until combined and pour into prepared baking dish. Add the chopped rhubarb on top, sprinkle with the remaining 1 tbsp flour. Top with reserved streusel.
  • Bake in preheated oven until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, 40-55 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 355kcalCarbohydrates: 45.8gProtein: 4.9gFat: 15.3gSaturated Fat: 9.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.8gMonounsaturated Fat: 4.4gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 68.2mgSodium: 227.4mgPotassium: 325.7mgFiber: 1.2gSugar: 26.2gVitamin A: 134.2IUVitamin C: 1.8mgCalcium: 143mgIron: 1.5mg
Course Breakfast
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
    5 stars in anticipation …. 😍 Looks delish!

    A question – what is the volume of “1 cup” in this recipe? In Australia, a cup is 250ml but I believe it used to be different in the US. I want to ensure when I make it that the measurements are accurate.

    Thanks for this recipe – very different.

  2. This looks beautiful and similar to one my grandmother made except she used powdered ginger with the cinnamon and no vanilla. Quite different and really warming. I’m in Australua and we call them Tea cakes instead of Coffee cakes. Usually it is just ‘xake for morning tea or ‘cake for afternoon tea. Cake for breakfast is not normal here.

  3. I am creating this now. It smells amazing. However, in the instructions, it did not mention when to add the Vanilla Extract. Good thing I went to the vid –LOL!

    It is taking all of my willpower to wait until this is ready to eat!!! Love your videos!!!

  4. 5 stars
    This recipe is so simple and easy to follow. Next time i will add more rhubarb,this is a personal preference as we love rhubarb. I used a different size pan so my cooking time was more, the final product is absolutely amazing, its not a sweet cake and there no bitterness from the rhubarb, it just so flavorful and delicious. I recommend this recipe to all. Thank Kaleb for sharing this recipe and I look to trying many more. I absolutely love watching your videos.

    Thanks
    Shelley
    Western NY – Finger Lakes/Southern Tier Area

  5. 5 stars
    This is a homerun recipe! I added a few strawberries in with my rhubarb as well. I love your easy approach to baking. You’ve given me the confidence to try peanut brittle, caramel, etc. I never would have attempted any of those before. I often find when friends and family share recipes they do these little extra steps that aren’t listed in the recipe, and then you are left wondering why your attempt didn’t work. You share these extra tips up front which means that everything I try ends up being a success.