Old Fashioned Fresh Rhubarb Cake Recipe

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This Old Fashioned Fresh Rhubarb Cake Recipe is a tried and true favorite that makes a cake big enough to feed a crowd. An easy crumble topping replaces the frosting! Can also be easily adapted to make rhubarb muffins. 

pieces of old fashioned fresh rhubarb cake on blue plates

Old Fashioned Fresh Rhubarb Cake

One of the things I love most about spring and summer is the arrival of homegrown fresh fruit and vegetables. I don’t grow any fruit myself, but there is a local market right down the street that has just about everything I need. That’s where I found the rhubarb for today’s old fashioned fresh rhubarb cake recipe. I’m not sure it was local but it looked really fresh and I couldn’t resist. If you don’t have a farm market, I actually saw some at Kroger and it looked very nice. Look for red stalks that snap when you break them. 

diced rhubarb for rhubarb cake or rubarb muffins batter

The Rhubarb Cake Recipe

This recipe is an old one from a women’s club cookbook I’ve had forever. I have tried different variations of the ingredients and this version is my favorite. There is something very homey and comforting about this cake. It’s hearty and it made my whole house smell wonderful while it was baking. 

rhubarb cake or rhubarb muffins batter in baking dish

Instead of frosting, I added a crumb topping that adds the little bit of extra sweetness the rhubarb needs. You could, of course, use frosting but this route is much easier. As soon as it cools for about 10 minutes, it’s ready to cut and serve. 

rhubarb cake batter in baking dish withe struesel

Rhubarb Muffins

The really nice thing about this recipe is that it can easily be adapted to make rhubarb muffins. They would be a perfect early spring treat for breakfast or for a snack. 

If you aren’t a rhubarb fan, any firm fruit could be substituted. I think it would be delicious with peaches or blueberries. I have never tried that so if you do, let me know what you think. 

There’s not much new around here. My hostas and day lilies are poking through the soil. I’m itching to get out and clean my front porch but the weather needs to cooperate first! 

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Old Fashioned Fresh Rhubarb Cake | Tried and true recipe that makes a cake big enough to feed a crowd. An easy crumble topping replaces frosting and adds the perfect finishing touch!

Old Fashioned Fresh Rhubarb Cake

This Old Fashioned Fresh Rhubarb Cake Recipe is a tried and true favorite that makes a cake big enough to feed a crowd. An easy crumble topping replaces the frosting! Can also be easily adapted to make rhubarb muffins. 
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4.34 from 3 votes
Servings: 12 pieces
Author: Ann Drake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
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  • 3 cups fresh diced rhubarb
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt sour cream or sour milk


  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Combine diced rhubarb and 1 cup sugar in a bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening, 1 cup sugar, egg and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
  • One cup at a time while mixing, add flour mixture to shortening mixture, alternating with the greek yogurt. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl at least twice.
  • Fold in rhubarb (including the juice) and stir until combined well. Batter will be rather thick.
  • Spoon batter into a prepared 9 x 13 pan and spread to the sides.
  • Combine the topping ingredients with a fork. Make sure that all the butter is mixed in well.
  • With your fingers, crumble topping on top of batter.
  • Bake for 45 – 50 minutes until knife inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
  • Cool or serve warm with whipped cream.


I prepare my baking pans with Baker’s Joy.
I used 4 stalks of rhubarb. Each was about 15 inches long.
I used low fat greek yogurt.
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4.34 from 3 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Made this today. Made one small change, used dark brown sugar instead of the white sugar for the topping. This is very delicious! Will definitely be making this a lot this summer. Feeds a lot of people.

  2. Judith Whitmore says:

    I made this cake today. It’s outstanding! I used 1/2 cup sugar for the topping rather than 3/4 cup. It was perfect! Thank you. 5 Stars!

  3. Barbara Warner says:

    Sounds good. I love rhubarb pie, but haven’t made a cake. Time to try it!

  4. I can’t wait to get back to the Midwest the end of May and get my yearly fix of rhubard. Yum!

  5. can I use a white cake mix and add the rhubarb and spices

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Actually that sounds like a great idea! Let me know how it turns out. :)

  6. Runningonempty says:

    We have rhubarb desserts in Australia too. I’ve not tried to make it as hubby always said he doesn’t like it, but this sure is tempting!

  7. Jackie Johnson says:

    My rhubarb is starting to break thru the ground and starting to leaf out. I always make sauce with mine (like applesauce) but will try this recipe also. Thanks!

  8. also when ever I make a recipe with rhubarb I always chop it and our boiling water over it and let sit for like 10 minutes to get the biter out, worked out great just drain and then pour the sugar on I and let sit, like the recipe states

  9. so awesome, I made twice today and gave some cakes away, doubled the fruit the first time, and I like that better more fruit and less cake, makes not as naughty? thanks for the recipe Julia

  10. Judy Hall says:

    Hi Ann…My sister-in law made two of these over the weekend. one for her and her husband and one for my husband and me. She chopped her rhubarb very fine because as she said she didn’t want to be “biting into a big chunk of rhubarb”. We all agreed it was delicious, but we both thought perhaps it could use a bit more rhubarb to increase the tartness of the fruit. Do you think the very fine chop reduced the tart taste of the rhubarb? My husband, who loves rhubarb anything, said he thought the spices overwhelmed the taste of the rhubarb. What do you think? I wondered if perhaps I could cut the nutmeg a bit.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Judy! I agree that the spices were the strongest flavor. That’s actually what I liked about it! If you want to taste the rhubarb more, then definitely cut back on the spices. Especially the cinnamon. One thing that I noticed is that my rhubarb sunk to the bottom of the cake. I didn’t mind it at all…but by chopping the rhubarb finer that probably didn’t happen. Hopefully anyway!

  11. Sheryl Wetzel says:

    On my birthday almost every year I make a rhubarb pie with homemade ice cream for myself. I made the old fashioned fresh rhubarb cake today and my husband and I loved it. I used butter instead of shortening as we prefer less chemicals. Thanks for the delicious recipe.

  12. You’ll giggle over this – Measured everything out, adjusting for altitude. Separate bowls were lined up around my little kitchen. Mixed the batter, poured into the cake pan. Topped it with crumbs and threw it in the oven. That was easy, I said to myself, only then realizing that the rhubarb and sugar bowl was staring me in the face. Imagine me going backward and disassembling. I’ll let you know how it turned out.

  13. My mom grew rhubarb and I love it, we have a market that sells it and I am excited about this cake. I also love old recipes as it reminds me of when I was little.
    Thank you,

  14. Tracy Holcombe says:

    Oh Ann, this looks wonderful. My husband and mother really like rhubarb….they would love it. We have some growing now and this will be the first thing we make.

  15. I’ve had very little rhubarb living out here in AZ. I’m go inning to get some and make this recipe because your coffee cake recipes are now some of our favorites. I’m sure it will be wonderful.
    Ann – I hope you don’t mind but I want to share info regatding a health issue I am having. I’ve had a terrible time with my allergies, I have been diagnosed with Bells Palsey it’s vital that you see a dr with in 48 hours to start the steroids & antiviral drugs, I’m 591/2 the cut off is 60. My left eye is swollen and there is drooping around my mouth which is what scared me. Into going to the emergency room. We lost my wonderful motherinlaw to a stroke so I’m too familiar with that terrible disease. I’m angry at myself for not going to the emergency room on Friday when this first started, (I also have a sinus infection which complicated things) so I want to recommend to you & your readers to become familiar with the symptoms. This may not go away & Im scared what lasting affect the may have on my eye. I’m an avid reader. So please trust your gut educate yourselves – learn from my experience.

    1. Jeanne Hoffman says:

      Joaz, in the 1960’s when I was a teenager (I’m 62 now), my mother got Bell’s Palsy. She went to the doctor, got the steroids and she did get better. So please have hope that you will recover OK.

      Best – Jeanne

  16. I love anything with a crumb top…good choice! I’ve never made anything with rhubarb…I remember my mother saying my father loved it and have always wanted to give it a try. Thanks, Ann, this should be a good starter recipe for me!

  17. I’m excited to try this recipe. My mom grew her own rhubarb….she added strawberries to the recipe…..but I’ve been unable to find it. So I thought I’d use yours….any idea how many strawberries to use…a cup perhaps? Thanks so much Ann….always look forward to your posts! ;)

  18. Debbie Manno says:

    This looks delicious! It so reminded me of my Grandfather Ann. This was his favorite pie or cake. He would lick your plate if he was here with us today. xo

  19. Charmaine says:

    I remember making strawberry rhubarb pie a long time ago. Lost the recipe but will definitely be trying this cake very soon!

  20. I ‘ll be haunting the grocery stores and Farmer’s Market hoping that Rhubarb shows up soon. I grew up in South Dakota and Mom made all sorts of things with rhubarb. There was so much of it that the neighbors didn’t mind when the neighbor kids broke off stalks and not only took it home to dip in sugar as we ate it but we also had some fierce swat fights with it, leaving our skin red and inflammed. Thanks for the memories!

  21. Can’t wait to try this recipe. I have a 15 year old rhubarb plant that is quite prolific. I’m always looking for new, easy and tasty ways to fix it. Thanks so much. I so look forward to your blogs in my inbox. Please keep it up!

  22. Cindy Smith says:

    My mother lives in IN and grows rhubarb. As people pass by her home they see the rhubarb and stop to ask if they can pick some. She always shares. She has met some wonderful people this way. I think I will mail her the recipe and maybe when I’m home for a visit in June she’ll bake this cake for me.
    Thank you for sharing, I love your blog.

  23. I too love rhubarb and am going to make this gluten free so I can share with my friend who also loves rhubarb. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Jeanette Duke says:

    OH, yum, yum, yum!!!! I love rhubarb and so happy to see this! Can’t wait to make it!! Thank you, Ann for sharing it.

  25. Ann – your rhubarb cake recipe is so similar to one that I have and it is so moist and good! I grow rhubarb and it is just starting to appear, but I am quite a bit further north than you. I so much want to get outside and start working in my yard, but must wait a while yet. Big hugs!