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 🙂

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.  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

 
  • Other fruit like berries work beautifully in this rhubarb breakfast cake.  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.  Half Greek yogurt and half milk would work, too.
 

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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    Please rate this recipe!




  • Reply
    Christine
    May 29, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    Thanks for this recipe. Do you know if it can be made in an 8 X 4 loaf pan?

    Thanks.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      May 30, 2021 at 6:19 am

      I don’t, I think maybe there might be too much batter? A larger loaf pan might work, or you could make muffins with the extra batter.

      • Reply
        Christine
        May 30, 2021 at 7:26 am

        Thanks. Just wondering if it might not be dense enough for a loaf pan to hold the shape when cut into slices. What do you think?

        • Reply
          Sue Moran
          May 30, 2021 at 9:17 am

          I think it would, just be sure to let it cool first.

          • Christine
            May 30, 2021 at 2:00 pm

            Thanks so much. Will let you know how it turns out. Waiting now for my rhubarb to grow!

  • Reply
    Barbara Mary
    May 29, 2021 at 5:36 am

    4 stars
    This is a very versatile recipe. could Almond flour be used?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      May 29, 2021 at 5:42 am

      I haven’t tried that Barbara. If you’re looking to make it gluten free I’d go with a gf baking mix, but if you want to add almond flour for flavor, you might try substituting part of the all purpose flour with almond flour. Whether you could use all almond flour, I don’t know.

  • Reply
    Debbie O
    May 27, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    5 stars
    My sister brought me some of her rhubarb and I used them in this recipe – amazing! The cake is so fluffy and the rhubarb is delicious. I used coarse sugar to sprinkle on top and it adds a nice little crunch to the overall texture. Definitely making this again!

  • Reply
    Joanne F Goldstein
    May 24, 2021 at 6:19 pm

    4 stars
    My rhubarb is all green so not as pretty as the red stalks. Is it OK to make this cake with green rhubarb? Thanks.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      May 24, 2021 at 6:41 pm

      yes, for sure Joanne. From my experience the color of the rhubarb will not affect its flavor.

  • Reply
    Cathy
    May 23, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    5 stars
    Used a combination of strawberries and rhubarb as well as a 50/50 mix of all purpose flour and whole wheat flour. It is now a family favourite. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  • Reply
    Leslie
    May 23, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    5 stars
    This recipe is perfection. We had it last night for dessert with ice-cream. This morning we had it with butter for breakfast. It was so fast and easy to put together. You have given me another keeper. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Reply
    rosemary merrill
    May 21, 2021 at 1:17 pm

    5 stars
    Used frozen fruit and my eyes played a trick on me. Rhubarb turned out to be sour cherries.
    It was DELICIOUS!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      May 21, 2021 at 3:57 pm

      Oh I would love that Rosemary, I’ll try it!

  • Reply
    Rose
    May 20, 2021 at 11:19 am

    Hi, has anyone tried making this with frozen rhubarb? Sue, I know you say you can use it, but rhubarb loses SO much water when thawed or even when baked with from frozen. I think it would adversely affect the baking of this cake as the batter would ultimately be too wet. I have read suggestions elsewhere to thaw the rhubarb in a stainer, and then use it in a recipe once thawed and drained. Perhaps that’s the way to go? Would appreciate hearing from anyone who has tried using frozen rhubarb. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Lisa from SD
      May 30, 2021 at 9:02 am

      5 stars
      I made this with frozen rhubarb today and it worked great! In fact, I believe I used more than 2 cups of it as I just used what was in the bag without measuring. I did have to cook it 50 min but that could be my oven as well.

      • Reply
        Sue Moran
        May 30, 2021 at 9:16 am

        I know a lot of people want to use frozen rhubarb so this is so helpful, thanks Lisa.

    • Reply
      Beth
      July 17, 2021 at 6:11 am

      5 stars
      I use frozen rhubarb in this recipe with no problem at all.

  • Reply
    dee
    May 20, 2021 at 8:59 am

    Haven’t made it yet. Need to buy more rhubarb. I am interested in your freezing technique….have you made this recipe with rhubarb you froze? Sharing your post with all my baking friends. Thanks.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      May 20, 2021 at 10:57 am

      I haven’t made this with frozen rhubarb Dee, but I use frozen fruit in muffins all the time with great success. And thanks for sharing the post!

  • Reply
    [email protected] is How I Cook
    May 20, 2021 at 8:44 am

    5 stars
    Sounds great Sue. Just getting ready to pick my first stalks. But mine aren’t as pretty as yours!

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