Grab some fresh rhubarb and add it to a homemade sour cream pound cake for an amazing dessert. With rhubarb upside-down cake you’ll find a buttery cake with a topping of rhubarb, brown sugar and candied Ginger. Great for any Spring gathering.
My Mother-in-law and I have always loved cooking together. It was how we got to know each other when Mike and I were first dating. She was visiting this week and wanted to make something with rhubarb and we ended up with an amazing rhubarb upside-down cake.
You normally see rhubarb combined with strawberries like in strawberry rhubarb jam, but we wanted to try something a little different. This rhubarb cake has the tartness of rhubarb sweetened with brown sugar over a buttery old fashioned sour cream pound cake, made in a cast iron skillet.
In the early years, while cooking togehter, we had a few fiasco’s but most were still edible. I was sure this would be edible but wasn’t sure how the pound cake would compliment the rhubarb and if it would be sweet enough without being too sweet.
I don’t know what I was worried about because she’s a great cook and the two of us together have quite a bit of cooking experience.
For the topping, our goal was to sweeten the rhubarb just enough so that you could still enjoy the tartness. For the cake we wanted a buttery pound cake that would hold the rhubarb without collapsing. She came up with the idea of using her infamous pound cake which was Aunt Millies’ recipe.
She has made this pound cake a million times and if you live in Campbellsville Kentucky you may have been lucky enough to have one of hers. We needed to adapt her recipe somewhat to work with the size and the fact that we would be pouring it into a hot skillet.
Our first attempt was perfect except for the overall presentation. I should have made sure the rhubarb was spread out evenly in the skillet before adding the batter, some of my pieces didn’t have as much rhubarb as others.
Other than that, we were pretty pleased with our rhubarb upside-down cake made in a cast iron skillet. A light and buttery sour cream pound cake with a slightly sweet topping that works its way into the batter so that you can enjoy the rhubarb flavor throughout the cake.
Why you’ll love it
- Sour cream pound cake, need I say more!
- This is not overly sweet but still sweet enough with the brown sugar topping.
- Rhubarb has such a unique tart flavor.
- It looks pretty impressive, and comes out of the pan easily.
- It’s not only a great dessert but works well for a brunch.
What you’ll need
- Rhubarb– you just need a couple of stalks to get 2 cups of rhubarb.
- Candied Ginger – this adds a nice flavor to the topping but you could leave it out. I’ve found it where the dried fruit is in the grocery and at Trader Joe’s or you can order it.
- Pecans – these go on the topping so it’s totally optional.
- Sour Cream – this is what makes the cake so moist.
- Pantry items – butter, flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, eggs and vanilla.
How do you make a rhubarb upside-down cake
Melt butter and brown sugar in a cast-iron skillet on the stove and add pecans and candied ginger. Add chopped rhubarb and cook for a couple of minutes to soften it a bit then spread it out evenly in the pan so that the top of your cake will have rhubarb in every slice.
Cream together the butter and sugar then add sour cream and egg yolks. Add the dry ingredients. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold them into the cake batter.
Pour the cake mixture onto the rhubarb mixture in the skillet and bake for 35 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes and then invert it over onto a serving plate.
Pro tip: You want the plate that you flip the dessert onto to be a little wider in circumference than the cake so you get a good grip.
Upside down cake is great for a weekend breakfast or brunch. Everyone loved it and I especially love that we created it together. 🥰
How do you serve it
We just added whipped cream to the top, but it’s also great with vanilla ice cream or you could drizzle some cream over it. Of course it is fabulous without any topping.
Is rhubarb a fruit or vegetable
Rhubarb is technically a vegetable. It has pink or green stalks that look like celery. The color does not determine it’s ripeness, so the green ones have just as much flavor as the pink. Tart rhubarb is commonly combined with strawberries in jam or with peaches in a galette, or with raspberries in bread pudding.
It freezes well so if you find a bunch at your local farmer’s market or grocery depending on what area of the country you live in, chop it up and freeze it for later. It’s available only in the Spring and grows in colder climates. You can find out when and where to find it in your neck of the woods along with storing information in this article on When is Rhubarb in Season.
How to prepare rhubarb
Once you remove the leaves and give the stalks a good wash, trim about 1″ off each end of the stalk. It works best if you cut them down to ½″ – 1″ pieces. You can them cook or bake right away or freeze for later use. Rhubarb will last a 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator if its fresh when you buy it.
FAQs and tips
No, you can use a layer cake pan or even a springform pan, it may need to cook a little longer.
Choose stalks that are firm and crisp with shiny skins. Try to avoid limp rhubarb.
Wash it and cut into pieces. Let freeze on a baking sheet then place in an airtight container or ziplock.
Take the serving platter that you want to to use and place it over the top of the skillet. Holding it tightly with both hands, quickly turn it over.
Good question. No, the green leaves are actually poisonous and should be removed and thrown away.
More Spring desserts
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Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup pecans chopped
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon candied ginger chopped
- 2 cups rhubarb chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ cup sour cream
- 3 large eggs separated
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350º.
- Melt butter in a 10 inch cast iron or oven proof skillet over medium heat. Stir in pecans, brown sugar and ginger and cook until sugar dissolves. Add cut rhubarb to the mixture and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Spread out the rhubarb and pecans evenly over the bottom of the pan.
- CAKE: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar and beat until combined. Add sour cream and beat until smooth. Add egg yolks one at a time mixing after each. Add vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt and soda. Add to batter and mix until well blended
- Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and gently fold into the batter. Pour onto the top of the brown sugar mixture in the skillet and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes on a wire rack and then turn upside down onto a platter. Serve with whipped cream.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- Make sure to spread out the rhubarb and pecans evenly on the bottom of the skillet before adding the cake batter.
- If you don’t have an oven proof skillet, you could use a 9 inch cake pan.
- If you don’t have candied ginger, you can leave it out and still have a delicious topping.
- Before flipping the cake, run a spatula around the outside to free up any spots that might stick.
- You can use frozen rhubarb, it won’t need to cook in the skillet as long.