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Rhubarb Upside-down Cake

When the Zietsmans were in town last weekend we showed them the Rochester Public Market, which is one of my absolute favorite places in all of Rochester.  It has been around since 1837!  Isn’t that crazy?  It’s also the location of the elusive Duke’s Donuts stand (though you have to go early), which I promise are the BEST apple cider donuts you will ever, ever, ever eat–I say this confidently as someone who has consumed many apple cider donuts.

Anyway, while we were there Tharrie bought me a few bunches of rhubarb.  Sadly I didn’t get around to actually using them until later in the week when everyone had already gone home, but I’m sure Fritz and my next-door neighbor (hi Mike!) appreciated having a whole cake to themselves (well, after me, of course).

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake 1


I was really torn between trying a cake and just reproducing this rhubarb and red wine compote (majorly decadent on ice cream, and any excuse to open a bottle of wine, you know).  The two and a half sticks of butter in the cake is what pushed me over the top–just had to try it–and I’m sure dad will be proud of my dairy usage (American Dairy Association, holla!).  Plus, I can always just buy more rhubarb at the market tomorrow since it was $0.75 a bunch.

Small piece. Big taste.

Small piece. Big taste.


Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake (recipe from Things I Made Today)

  • two small bunches rhubarb (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 t cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 C sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 C butter (2 1/2 sticks), softened and divided
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 2 C cake flour
  • 1 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • juice and zest from half a lemon (or a lime)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 C plain greek yogurt (original recipe called for sour cream, which I thought I had…)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line a springform pan (mine was ten inches, and the recipe originally called for nine inches) with parchment paper and butter the sides.  Wrap the outside and bottom of the pan in foil to prevent the rhubarb topping from leaking out.

Chop the rhubarb and toss in a large bowl with 1/2 C of the white sugar and with the cornstarch.  Set aside.

Melt 1/4 C butter (1/2 stick) in a saucepan and add the brown sugar.  Stir until smooth (the sugar doesn’t need to dissolve), remove from heat, and set aside.

Combine the salt, flour, and baking powder in a bowl.   In a mixer, cream the remaining butter (two sticks, or one cup) with the remaining sugar (1 C) until fluffy.  Add the lemon juice, zest, and vanilla.  Add one egg at a time, scraping the sides as needed.  Finally, mix in the greek yogurt.  If the mixture looks curdled at this point, it’s okay.  It’ll all even out with the flour.

Slowly add the flour mixture, mixing as little as possible (you don’t want to form too much gluten with over mixing, or your cake will be tough.  Using cake flour also helps prevent this).

Pour the brown sugar/butter mixture into the bottom of the pan.  Add the rhubarb, then spread the cake batter on top.  Bake for one hour and 15 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it.

Before baking.

Before baking.

Allow the cake to cool for at least 15 minute before you remove from the springform pan and flip over.

I tried really hard to make this picture not look like a giant pile of ground beef...

I tried really hard to make this picture not look like a giant pile of ground beef…

This cake was really, really, really delicious and decadent.  You know immediately that there’s a ton of butter in there (in the best way).


Fritz said it was the best cake base (the white cake part) that he’s ever had.  I know for sure that this is mostly because I actually took the effort to use cake flour, which makes for such a tender crumb in cake.

Well, that, and the butter.


The rhubarb topping is really tangy and not overly sweet, and it contrasts perfectly with the rich and fluffy cake bottom.  You’ll definitely be eating small slices of this cake because it has everything you need in just a few bites.  I refrigerated the leftover cake immediately, and though it’s good cold-straight-out-of-the-fridge-on-a-fork, it’s even better warmed up again.

And around here?

I’ve mentioned my childhood next-door neighbor before (in this post, maybe more?).  She’s in her early 80’s now and has these really amazing stories of what it was like to grow up in Germany (she left Germany during wartime as a young woman and her experiences sound like they are straight out of a gripping World War II novel).  Anyway, last time I was home, she mentioned to me that she had heard of a German deli located in Rochester and wondered if I had ever heard of a it.  A little research led me to Swan Market, and today I stopped by and asked the woman at the counter to help me chose a selection of German cold meats and sausages.  I also grabbed a few for my dad to try (we have a history of participating in new culinary adventures together), and I’m so excited to bring them home this weekend.  Hopefully I chose well (though everything looked delicious and smelled even better, the case wasn’t labeled so I couldn’t even go by names that sounded familiar).

There's been a LOT of this going on lately.  Spring fever?

There’s been a LOT of this going on lately. Spring fever?

(Also, I didn’t take a picture of our CSA from last week since we had all the family over.  The box was still a little on the small side for the early season, and included a small head of boston lettuce, baby lettuce, kale, tatsoi, green onions, mustard flowers, and radishes.  Our third box is tomorrow!).

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.fullmeasureofhappiness.com/2014/06/13/rhubarb-upside-down-cake/


  1. Hannah

    If you DO go to the market again, bring home some rhubarb and we can make the compote. Liz will be beside herself with excitement over her treats. You should bring your camera and take some pictures. I don’t have any and I’ll be sad some day that I never took any :-)

  2. Florence

    It looks very good. One of my friend live in Munich, so if you need some recipes from Deutchland , I’m here, I’ll try to translate them into English. Have a nice day.

  3. dina

    it looks great!

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