If you’re looking for an easy rhubarb dessert with a fun presentation, try this rhubarb upside-down cake! It combines lots of fresh rhubarb, plenty of orange zest and bakes up beautifully in a cast iron skillet. Delicious with strawberry ice cream!
Hey friends! I know some of you are well into rhubarb season, but here in Newfoundland it’s only just ready to harvest (well, in our little backyard garden anyway).
I was super excited to pluck our rhubarb and I knew I had to make something special; so, I made this easy and delicious rhubarb upside-down cake!
On top of trying to stay with the seasons here, let’s get into a little nerdy talk …
The new season of Stranger Things is back on Netflix today! If you are a fan of that science fiction show, like me, then you know all about ‘the upside down’. And, if you’re like ‘what the heck is Dawn talking about??’ I won’t bore you with the details, LOL.
So, geeking out here, how fun would it be to share an upside down cake recipe for the start of a new season? Still with me?
Like rhubarb desserts? Check out this strawberry rhubarb crisp!
What is Upside Down Cake?
Upside-down cake is like any other cake, except it has a layer of fruit in a sugar syrup on the bottom. After it’s baked, it’s inverted (turned upside down) so that the bottom becomes the top of the cake.
Pray to the baking gods that everything comes out beautifully when you tip that baby over and, when it does (because it will), do a happy dance right in the middle of your kitchen!! Seriously, though, this is one easy dessert!
Did ya know that rhubarb is actually a veggie, not a fruit?
How to Make Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
This cake is super simple to make. Dare I say too easy?? Basically:
- Melt some butter in a skillet.
- Add sugar.
- Stir sugar, mixing to combine with the butter. Sugar won’t fully be dissolved at this point.
- Add chunks of rhubarb.
- Stir rhubarb, coating in butter/sugar mixture. Cook for a few minutes. As it cooks, it will release a little liquid and the sugar mixture will dissolve.
- Ensure the rhubarb is in an even-ish layer on the bottom of the cast-iron skillet. Let sit for a little while you are preparing batter.
- Place flour in a bowl and stir in baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
- To flour, stir in orange zest. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, blend some butter and sugar.
- Blend in vanilla extract.
- Next, blend in orange extract.
- Blend in eggs, one at a time.
- Blend in half of the reserved flour mixture.
- Add half of the milk. Continue with remaining flour and milk, and blend until just combined (and there are no streaks of dry flour left).
- Scoop cake batter on top of the rhubarb mixture.
Tip: An ice cream scoop is helpful here. If you don’t have that, though, no biggie; use a spoon!
- Using a spatula and gently spread out batter in an even layer. Bake!
- Once baked, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Run a butter knife along the edge of the cake to loosen any stuck on bits, if there are any.
- Carefully place a plate or platter (that’s a little bigger than the skillet) on top of the skillet and invert (quickly turn over).
- Now the cake is out of the skillet. Yay!
- Portion and enjoy as is or with ice cream!
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What to Serve with this Cake
- Ice cream (I highly recommend strawberry. SO good with rhubarb). If you’re looking for something homemade, I have a couple of delicious options for ya: Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream (no eggs) from Champagne Tastes or Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream (using eggs) from My Wife Can Cook. You gotta have options, am I right??
- Whipped cream
- Fresh mint
- Sprinkle of extra orange zest for extra orange oomph
- White, dark or milk chocolate shaved over top
More Tips & Variations
Use the STALKS ONLY of the rhubarb. The leaves are poisonous!
Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes before inverting.
Not into orange? Try lemon zest instead!
When inverting (tipping over) baked rhubarb cake, select a plate or platter that is just slightly larger than the skillet. You want to be able to still have a good grip on the skillet when turning.
Speaking turning that skillet over, it will still be hot so I like to wear good, grip-able gloves.
More Delicious Desserts
Hope you love this rhubarb upside-down cake as much as we do!
If you make this rhubarb cake recipe, be sure to leave a comment below. Love to know how you enjoyed!
Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake (with orange)
- ¾ cup unsalted butter , divided
- 1 cup granulated sugar , divided
- 3 cups rhubarb stalks , cut into about 1-inch chunks (stalks only), about ¾ pound
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange zest ('heaping' tablespoons, from about 2 to 3 oranges)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup milk (I used 2%)
- Baking spray (to grease skillet)
- Melt butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium low heat.
- Add ½ cup of sugar, stirring with melted butter.
- Add chopped rhubarb, stirring to coat in butter/sugar mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Turn off heat and allow to sit while preparing batter for cake. Try to get an even-ish layer of rhubarb covering the bottom of the skillet. I like to spray a little baking spray around the top of the skillet at this point too (so the cake doesn't stick as it bakes). Preheat oven at this time to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and orange zest. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a bowl with a hand mixer) blend (on medium-high speed) remaining ½ cup of butter with remaining ½ cup of sugar for about 2 to 3 minutes until combined and creamy (stop, as necessary, to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula).
- Add vanilla extract and orange extract and blend about 30 seconds.
- Reduce speed and add eggs, one at a time, blending until just combined (mixture may not look combined and creamy and that's okay).
- Alternating between reserved flour mixture and milk, add to the bowl of the stand mixer, blending until just combined and no streaks of dry flour remains.
- Scoop batter on top of the rhubarb. Use a spatula to gently spread out, being carefully not to move around the rhubarb too much.
- Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Carefully remove the cake from the oven and let sit 10 minutes. Run a butter knife or small offset spatula around the cake to ensure no bits are stuck to the skillet.
- Place a serving platter (a little bigger than the skillet) over top of the cake. Then, carefully and confidently turn over so the cake comes out of the skillet. Be careful as the skillet will still be hot! Enjoy as is or with ice cream!
- Use the STALKS ONLY of the rhubarb. The leaves are poisonous!
- Not into orange? Try lemon zest instead!
- When inverting (tipping over) baked rhubarb cake, select a plate or platter that is just slightly larger than the skillet. You want to be able to still have a good grip on the skillet when turning. Also, skillet will still be hot so I like to wear good, grip-able gloves.
Nutrition (ESTIMATE ONLY)
Nutrition estimate (if provided) is based on 1 Serving.
Nutrition information (if provided) is provided as a courtesy and should be considered an estimate only. Ingredients can vary and Girl Heart Food makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
A note on times provided: appliances vary, any prep and/or cook times provided are guidelines only.