Whole Wheat Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

by Heidi @ Food Doodles on June 7, 2012

Who likes rhubarb?  I love rhubarb!  Like seriously obsessed.  I was afraid that I burnt myself out last year since I went so crazy on it, but nope.  I love it just as much, if not more this year.  I have 3 plants in my garden now this year.  I’ve been ripping stalks off left right and center and I’ve still been buying it from the farmers market too.  Obsessed!

Let me just tell you about last year.  I had never had rhubarb before.  OK, that’s probably not true, I probably had it before, hidden in a pie with a ton of other fruit and too much sugar.  Last year was when I first really tasted rhubarb.

Let me start from the very beginning… I bought some rhubarb from the market because I was determined to try it out.  And then it sat in the fridge for close to 2 weeks.  Every time I opened the fridge it was there, taunting me, so I pushed it to the back and forgot about it.  Until the time to put my next weeks market finds in the fridge came and I saw it again.  I pulled it out to the front, determined to do something with it and I looked at it every day for probably another week before I decided to do something with it.

Embarrassing, but at least I learned to love rhubarb in the process.  It’s a very good thing rhubarb lasts a long time in a bag in the fridge.  I’m telling you… Buy some!  Put it in your fridge and don’t let it intimidate you!  😉

The fun thing about about buying our rhubarb from the market last year was how I used it as a leash for my daughter.  She was a year and a half at the time, and was never much for holding hands so instead, I would let her hold a piece of rhubarb when I bought it and then I held onto the other end so I could lead her around the market 🙂

I don’t want this post to be too long.  I did go a little crazy with the pictures again.  I just want to mention that if you think these pictures look a little different, they are.  I made the cake the first day and discovered that the middle wasn’t cooked after I took all my pictures(the ones with the much nicer, pink colored rhubarb from the market).  The next day I made the cake again and decided to take more pictures(the ones with the greenish pink rhubarb, from my garden).  Not too different, but I thought I’d explain why they’re two different colors 🙂  Oh, and I’ve changed the recipe to reflect the longer baking time, of course.

The strange thing is, I checked the cake with a toothpick and it came out clean the first time even though the cake wasn’t cooked.  Anyone else had this problem with baking with whole wheat flour?  I’ve never had that happen to me before, but I’m sure it was probably something I did wrong.


Whole Wheat Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Adapted from Eat Good 4 Life’s basic cake recipe

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 C + 2 tbsp brown sugar, divided(a less processed sugar is recommended, like sucanat)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg(freshly ground is best!)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 – 3  C fresh rhubarb, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 1/2 C + 2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour from soft wheat
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Scant 1/2 C flavorless oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 C brown sugar(again, sucanat is recommended but regular brown sugar is fine)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 C milk(dairy or not dairy)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare an 8×8 baking dish by spraying with non stick spray, or buttering.
Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter and mix with 1/4 C brown sugar and the ginger, nutmeg and a pinch of salt.  Spread in the bottom of the pan.  In a small bowl toss the chopped rhubarb with 2 tbsp flour.  Pour over the butter and sugar mixture in the pan and then sprinkle the fruit with an extra 2 tbsp of brown sugar.  Shake the pan to help the fruit settle to the bottom.
For the cake, in a small bowl combine the oil, vanilla, brown sugar, eggs and milk.  Mix well and set aside.  In a larger bowl combine the 1 1/2 C flour, baking powder, baking soda and 1/4 tsp salt.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well until everything is completely combined.  Pour over the fruit in the baking dish and place in the oven.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes, until completely cooked through and a dark golden brown on top.  Cool for at least half an hour before slicing and serving warm with ice cream or whipped cream.


Leave a Comment

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jenifer June 11, 2015 at 22:25

My 4-year-old and I love rhubarb! I made this for a potluck (so served with no topping) and it was AMAZING! We’re making it again this weekend. The ginger is exceptionally good in the rhubarb mixture.

I will say that the sugar measurement is confusing as listed. The first appearance calls for 3/4 cup divided, and 1/2 cup of that is called out again later. I first measured 3/4 cup into the melted butter, then realized my mistake before mixing and was able to scoop out the excess and use it later.


2 Heidi @ Food Doodles June 13, 2015 at 08:10

Hey Jenifer! Thats awesome, thanks so much for leaving a comment. Sorry about the confusion, I’ll see if I can reword it 🙂 So glad you enjoyed it!


3 Genevieve June 10, 2012 at 13:42

I love rhubarb too…I’ve had it in a few different ways (pie, crisp, squares, cake, muffins, loaf), but never an upside down cake. This looks like it could work as both a coffee cake or a dessert. Speaking of rhubarb desserts, my mom just made two rhubarb pies that are sitting next to me in the kitchen right now – after seeing this post, I don’t know if I can wait until after dinner to eat them!
ps. I love your story about using rhubarb like a leash in market – hilarious! It’s actually a good idea too because otherwise it sticks way out of my bag and gets in everyone’s way!


4 sara June 9, 2012 at 08:24

This cake looks SO delicious – perfect use of rhubarb, yum! 🙂 I think the tart flavor goes perfectly with whole wheat.


5 The Café Sucré Farine June 8, 2012 at 15:50

Looks fabulous no mater what color your rhubarb is – I grew up on rhubarb, it was such a fun seasonal treat for us, my mom would combine it with strawberries and serve it over ice cream, yummy!


6 Jen@TheFitHousewife June 8, 2012 at 13:54

Looks yummy! My SIL just gave me a bunch of rhubarb, now I know what to make with it 🙂 And yes, that toothpick thing happens to me too. GRRR, so frustrating!


7 Faith June 8, 2012 at 13:04

The cake is gorgeous! I’ve actually had that problem with a toothpick coming out clean even when the cake isn’t done. It happened to me one time last summer — the cake I made was also a whole wheat cake and it also had fresh produce (zucchini and carrot). Interesting! I wonder if it’s the whole wheat/fresh produce combo?


8 Annie @ Naturally Sweet Recipes June 8, 2012 at 10:47

Yum! I have never made an upside down cake before. I LOVE this idea way better than pineapple! Rhubarb sounds soo yummy! Way to go for making it whole wheat too! I will have to try this!


9 Erin @ Texanerin Baking June 8, 2012 at 08:05

Oh it looks yummy! I think all the pictures look good and I didn’t even notice anything. And I happen to like undercooked cake! But I’ve never had that problem with whole wheat.

I ate and baked with rhubarb for the first time about a month ago but it was kind of funky. I’ll have to give it another go. Happy weekend to you. 🙂


10 Heather June 8, 2012 at 07:58

This looks so good, I love Rhubarb! Love the way this cake is served with a simple dusting of powdered sugar and a dollop of whipped cream – this looks too perfect!…sorry about your undercooked middle, I have had that happen before but caught it in time to pop it back into the oven to bake a little longer 🙂


11 Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} June 8, 2012 at 05:40

Woah lady–how do you have time to rebake and reshoot a recipe right now?! You are a super star. 🙂 I’m loving rhubarb this year, too. I haven’t had it much since my childhood, but it’s so good!


12 Heidi @ Food Doodles June 8, 2012 at 13:49

I know it sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Trust me, I’m not super at all! My littlest one pretty much lives in a sling right now and the older two play with each other most of the day so I can get things done for some of the day. I am terrified of when my youngest is too big for the sling, or too heavy for me(since she doesn’t sleep well on her own, yet at least) and when my oldest goes to school in the fall. I don’t think I’m going to get anything done with my crazy 3 year old and a baby that doesn’t like to sleep on her own, LOL.


13 Kathryn June 8, 2012 at 02:23

I can’t get enough rhubarb and this looks like an absolutely perfect cake, especially for the miserable weather we’re having in England at the moment!


14 Nami | Just One Cookbook June 7, 2012 at 23:18

Your Rhubarb Upside Down Cake looks so good! I’d love to eat with good vanilla ice cream. 🙂


15 Eat Good 4 Life June 7, 2012 at 16:11

Lookie here 🙂 you used my cake batter recipe? Thanks a bunch. I hope you like it. Very cleaver thing using fresh fruit to make an upside down cake with this. Would you believe I have never ever cooked, or baked with rhubarb before? I don’t even think I have tasted it!! Well now I have the perfect excuse to do so 🙂


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