Easy Rhubarb Breakfast Cake

breaking apart a piece of rhubarb breakfast cake

My Rhubarb Breakfast Cake is a classic rhubarb cake recipe ~ the kind your grandma made, if you were lucky. It’s packed with jammy bits of sweet/tart rhubarb and it’s officially my favorite way to start the day.

Rhubarb Breakfast Cake image

an easy rhubarb cake for breakfast and beyond

The texture of this cake is just perfect, it’s not too sweet, and the tart rhubarb gives it a unique flavor. There’s a nice background note of vanilla in the batter which plays really well with the rhubarb. And then there’s that slightly crunchy sugary crust ~ this rhubarb cake is divine whether you have it for breakfast, snack on it all day, or save it for dessert.

Rhubarb Breakfast Cake imagery

ingredient list for rhubarb cake

You’ll just need a few stalks of rhubarb for this breakfast cake recipe, enough to make 2 cups of thin slices. The red color is beautiful, but green rhubarb will give you wonderful flavor too.

  • rhubarb ~ fresh is best but you can use frozen sliced rhubarb if you have it. No need to thaw.
  • butter ~ I always bake with unsalted butter. If you only have salted on hand, just leave out the extra salt in the recipe.
  • granulated sugar ~ I sprinkle a little over the cake before baking for an extra bit of crunch.
  • egg
  • half & half, cream, or buttermilk ~ use them interchangeably according to what you have in the fridge.
  • all purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • lemon juice
  • vanilla ~ the vanilla and tart rhubarb make a wonderful flavor combo, but I also love it with almond extract, so use your favorite.
Fresh rhubarb for Rhubarb Breakfast Cake image

Rhubarb FAQs

Is rhubarb a fruit or a vegetable?

  • Rhubarb is a tart vegetable (it’s part of the buckwheat family!) that we treat as a fruit in cooking. It grows in long leafy stalks, and kind of looks like red celery. The stalks can be harvested when very young, or when large and mature. Do not eat rhubarb leaves, they are poisonous. They contain oxalic acid, which is toxic to humans.

When is rhubarb season?

  • Rhubarb season is April through June, but you’ll see if sooner and later in some areas. Rhubarb is one of the first veggies of spring.

Is rhubarb healthy?

  • According to Healthline“Rhubarb is a good source of fiber and antioxidants. Studies show that rhubarb fiber may lower cholesterol, but research on its health benefits is otherwise limited.”

Why is my rhubarb green?

  • Rhubarb varies in color from deep crimson to pale green. Newer varieties, like my Cherry Red rhubarb, is bred for its sweet flavor and intense color, which is nice because that’s one of the things we love about rhubarb and it’s a big drag when the color doesn’t bloom in recipes. There is little difference in flavor between the green and red, but red rhubarb can be stunning when cooked.

How to cook rhubarb?

  • Rhubarb is usually used in desserts like pies, sometimes combined with other fruits like strawberries. Slice the stalks and cook them down with a little water and sugar until the fruit starts to break down. It can be made into sauces, compotes, jams, or pie fillings, among other things.

Can you freeze rhubarb?

  • Rhubarb freezes beautifully. Slice it and lay it out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Put the pan in the freezer and freeze until solid. Then transfer the rhubarb to a freezer style zip lock baggie or airtight container.

Do I need to thaw rhubarb before using?

  • In most cases there’s no need to thaw the rhubarb when you want to use it for cooking, or baking, just use it frozen.
Rhubarb breakfast cake batter in a baking pan.

Once you’ve got the basic formula for this cake down you can experiment with different fruits and flavorings to make it your own, just be sure to maintain the proportions.

Rhubarb cake on top of a wooden table.

more rhubarb, please!

Rhubarb is such an unusual ingredient, and strictly seasonal, so I recommend grabbing it while you can.

A piece of Rhubarb Breakfast Cake image

“Rhubarb Breakfast Cake is very delicious! 5 star delicious ๐Ÿ™‚

Tammy

breaking apart a piece of rhubarb breakfast cake
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3.66 from 966 votes

Rhubarb Breakfast Cake

My Rhubarb Cake is a classic rhubarb recipe ~ the kind your grandma made, if you were lucky.ย  It's packed with jammy bits of sweet/tart rhubarb and it's officially my favorite way to start the day.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Yield 12 servings
Calories 226kcal
Author Sue Moran

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup half and half, cream, or buttermilk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tsp for sprinkling
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, saving out 1 Tbsp to toss with rhubarb
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb

Instructions

  • Set oven to 350F Lightly butter a 9×9 square baking pan. I like to line the pan with parchment paper with overhanging ends so I can easily lift out the cooled cake for cutting. That’s optional.
  • Stir the lemon juice into the half and half and set aside.
  • Cream the soft butter and sugar in a stand mixer, or with electric beaters, until fluffy and pale yellow. Beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
  • Take 1 Tbsp of the flour to the rhubarb and toss well.
  • Whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl and blend in. Add all of the half and half, and blend in. Finally add the rest of the flour and blend just until combined, don't over mix. Fold in the rhubarb. Note: the batter is on the thick side.
  • Spread the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top evenly with a little sugar. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the cake is turning golden and a toothpick in the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it (moist crumbs are fine.)
  • Let the cake cool slightly before cutting.

Cook’s notes

ย 
  • Other fruit like berries work beautifully in this rhubarb breakfast cake.ย  Also try chopped banana.
  • Mix the topping sugar with a touch of cinnamon for a hint of spice.
  • For a lower fat option try buttermilk in place of the half and half and lemon.ย  Half Greek yogurt and half milk would work, too.
ย 

Nutrition

Calories: 226kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 213mg | Potassium: 167mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 293IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

 

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303 Comments

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  • Reply
    Liz
    March 20, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    I hope my rhubarb crop is better this year! Your gorgeous breakfast cake is the first new recipe I plan to try—so yummy!

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 20, 2018 at 2:14 pm

      I think it’ll start off the season with a bang Liz ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Amy in Hunting Valley, OH
    March 18, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    I am going to try this for sure. My grandmother used to cook rhubarb and serve it as a dessert. I didn’t know that it’s actually a vegetable. We still have a lot of snow on the ground so anything that helps it feel spring-like is much appreciated!

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 18, 2018 at 7:01 pm

      I know most of the upper part of the country won’t have rhubarb growing just yet, for sure, but if you see some at the supermarket, grab it. I think I may freeze a bunch of it this year so I never run out.

  • Reply
    Mary
    March 16, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    5 stars
    I replaced some of the flour with Almond Meal – I felt it lightened the crumb and it tastes nice with the Rhubarb. Rhubarb is lovely in muffins as well.

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 16, 2018 at 4:56 pm

      I like that idea, I’ll try it.

    • Reply
      faith
      March 16, 2018 at 6:36 pm

      iv would love the printer version of the recipe please

      • Reply
        Sue
        March 16, 2018 at 7:44 pm

        You can always get the printer version by clicking the little ‘print’ button in the upper right of the recipe, Faith. Let me know if you have trouble and I can email it to you.

  • Reply
    Christina
    March 16, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    OH, sweet momma, I love me some rhubarb and this recipe looks utterly tempting! I’m so excited for rhubarb season. The moment I see some at my local market I’m coming back to try this recipe! Yum! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Patricia J. McCandless
      June 1, 2018 at 3:18 pm

      Rhubarb is so easy to grow! My own Rhubarb plant has been passed down from my Great-Grandfather’s garden. It is particularly delicious. It has been divided multiple times. I planted my Rhubarb in my little rose garden. Deer don’t like it and dogs leave it alone. The clump of roots divide easily with a spade, shovel or just about anything else. Don’t worry about hurting it. Take a chunk out of anyone’s Rhubarb plant, put it in the ground where it will get a fair amount full sun and regular watering. Don’t eat the leaves!

      • Reply
        Sue
        June 1, 2018 at 3:59 pm

        Love this Patricia, I knew rhubarb was easy to grow, but didn’t know you could divide it this way, thanks!

  • Reply
    [email protected] is How I Cook
    March 16, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    5 stars
    What a delicious and beautiful cake. I’ve missed out on rhubarb for a lot of years since I never tried it as a child. I have a lot of time to make up for and this looks great! Pinning!

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 16, 2018 at 3:04 pm

      I never had it as a child either, Abbe, I’m making up for lost time for sure.

  • Reply
    Judi Hansen
    March 16, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    Rhubarb grows for most of the year here in New Zealand, so I’ll give this recipe a go…but what is half and half? Never heard the term before.

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 16, 2018 at 12:45 pm

      Half and half is a light cream product, basically half heavy cream and half milk, Judi. And how lucky to have rhubarb growing year round!

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s Recipes
    March 16, 2018 at 8:53 am

    5 stars
    Love those cherry red rhubarb! Haven’t seen any of them here yet…the cake looks marvelous!

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    March 16, 2018 at 4:44 am

    Such a lovely cake! My rhubarb is still under some snow, so it will be a while here. But no fear. I have a freezer stash, so will be trying this one ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 16, 2018 at 7:03 am

      So much better to wait for it from the garden than to grab it early in the grocery store ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving Room for Dessert
    March 16, 2018 at 5:16 am

    5 stars
    You know I love this one! Breakfast cake all day is my mantra!

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 16, 2018 at 7:20 am

      Wish we could share a slice my friend!

    • Reply
      Cheryl Kennedy
      May 30, 2018 at 1:17 pm

      Breakfast cake all day is a great mantra.

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    March 16, 2018 at 3:54 am

    5 stars
    This looks spectacular! I haven’t seen rhubarb yet here in NC but I’ll be on the lookout! Can’t wait to try this ๐Ÿ™‚

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