When we first bought the Cat Farm, there was rhubarb in the garden. I’m sad to say that we killed it. Ripped it right out of the garden. It was planted in a ridiculous location, was constantly being nicked by the mower, and neither of us thought we’d miss it if it were gone.

We were wrong.

We were wrong because if we still had that rhubarb in the garden we could eat this cake everyday. For breakfast. Or with tea. For dessert. As a mid-morning snack. As an afternoon treat. Are you pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down? We could eat it all the time.

This cake is nice and light. The sweet balances out the tart of the rhubarb, which melts into the cake as it bakes. The sugary topping is just enough – it melts as you spread a thin layer on top of the cake, and seeps down just a little. It might not seem like enough when you’re spreading it on, but it is. You’ll just have to trust me.

Thankfully, rhubarb is readily available at this time of year, and I’ve got some tucked into the freezer (in 1.5 cup measurements), so we can eat this cake whenever we like in the coming months. Maybe you should do the same…

. . .

Old Fashioned Rhubarb Cake – recipe adapted slightly from Rosie Beaucoup, original source unknown – print and bake

 Yields one 9 x 9 inch pan.

For the topping:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter

For the cake:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening (yes, you could use butter instead)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups diced, fresh rhubarb

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×9 inch square baking pan.

Place topping ingredients in a small bowl and rub together with your fingers until well blended. Set aside. (You could also make the topping when the cake is baking.)

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the shortening and sugars together on medium speed – 3-5 minutes. You could also do this with a hand mixer.

Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined.

On medium-low speed, add the flour mixture to the shortening mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix well to combine with each addition. (Add in the following order: dry, buttermilk, dry, buttermilk, dry.)

Finally, mix the rhubarb in by hand.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 – 45 minutes. (The original recipe calls for a bake time of 60 minutes – I haven’t found it takes that long.)

You will find that the top of the cake browns before the end of the baking time, so to prevent over-browning, place a sheet of tinfoil very lightly on top of the cake surface when the top is brown but some baking time still remains. (I gently lay the tinfoil on top at about 25-30 minutes into the baking time.)

Remove from oven when cake tester comes out clean, and immediately dot the surface with the topping and spread, with as little pressure as possible, across the top of the cake. As the topping warms on the hot cake, it will become easier to spread.

Allow to cool before cutting and devouring.


  1. Recipe Chefs on June 23, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Great recipe today thanks for sharing. Food and recipes are really enjoyed by everything. It can be a great common interest. Thanks again!

    Feel free to check out and share this delicious Sirloin Tip recipe. It’s just mouthwatering!

    American Sirloin Tip Roast Recipe

    • Anonymous on June 23, 2011 at 6:55 pm

      I know what I’m making next! yum yum yum!! Could I use butter instead of shortening do you think? PK

      • movita on June 23, 2011 at 9:45 pm

        I was wondering the same thing – and haven’t tried it yet. Owl is betting you could!

  2. emmalina73 on June 23, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Looks delicious and just when I was thinking of going on a diet!

    • movita on June 23, 2011 at 9:45 pm

      That’s my job: diet saboteur.

  3. Anonymous on July 17, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Instead of a cake, I made 12 muffins. I used butter instead of shortening and substituted Spenda for both white and brown sugar. Baked for 30-35 minutes…and they were delicious. And they freeze beautifully. Thanks so much for the recipe!

    • movita on July 18, 2011 at 7:34 pm

      I love a good recipe tweak! I’ve always thought this cake would make a great muffin, and I guess you’ve proved my theory…

  4. bexkitchen on August 1, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Can you believe I burnt all my rhubarb yesterday?????

    • movita on August 1, 2011 at 10:54 pm

      But, but… wah? Why? Why would you hate the rhubarb so?

  5. Coffeemuffins on January 29, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Wow this looks amazing! I have a rhubarb plant in my garden, can’t wait to be able to use it to make wonderful treats!

    Thanks for the recipe.

  6. Amy on May 27, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    This sounds amazing…very similar to an apple cake I make in the fall. I love rhubarb! I just made some rhubarb strawberry crisp last night!

  7. movita beaucoup on October 29, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Comments on this post are now closed as it was published in June 2011. Happy baking!