Old-Fashioned Rhubarb Cake: Easy and Delicious Recipe

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Our Grandma’s Rhubarb Cake recipe is a great way to enhance the sweetness of this fruit. This classic cake requires no boxed cake mix, making it easy to whip up without needing to run to the grocery store. Rhubarb is an edible stalk that can be tart but can be cooked to bring out its sweetness.

Rhubarb is one of the first crops of the spring season, starting in March. Rhubarb season is well before the farmer’s market season kicks off in Iowa, but you can still get your rhubarb fix by purchasing straight from us here at Pleasant Grove Homestead through early summer, until around June! Use seasonal rhubarb to make this delicious rhubarb cake. Don’t forget to get your farm fresh eggs from our farm store to use in this recipe too!

Rhubarb is an edible stalk known for its vibrant color and sour taste. The rhubarb plant also contains leaves and roots that are poisonous to eat. The leaves and roots contain oxalic acid which is not safe for human consumption, so be sure only to consume the brightly red/green-hued stalk. Don’t worry if you are purchasing from your local farmer, we always cut off the harmful leaves (to use as compost) and will give you the fresh edible stalk! 

Close up on a slice of rhubarb cake

Rhubarb Uses

Rhubarb is very tart and sour, which makes it the perfect addition to jams, pies, and cakes to balance out the sweetness from the sugar or other sweet fruits. Rhubarb also makes a wonderful Barbecue sauce, check out our Rhubarb BBQ Sauce recipe here for all of your summer grilling needs! This BBQ sauce pairs great with pork or chicken, and also has canning instructions. 

Many recipes pair tart rhubarb with strawberries, but this recipe highlights rhubarb all by itself! This old-fashioned rhubarb cake recipe comes straight from grandma’s original recipe collection and uses ingredients you likely already have at home. This recipe is easy to make and only uses one mixing bowl for easy clean-up! The sweet flavor of the cake pairs perfectly with the rhubarb which is a bit sour making the perfect dessert for summer. Bring to a family BBQ or picnic to enjoy with your family. 

close up on cooked rhubarb cake

How to freeze Rhubarb 

Do you have extra rhubarb or want to purchase abundance from your farmer? Rhubarb is very easy to freeze and enjoy all year long, with no blanching required! Follow these simple steps to preserve and freeze for future use. 

Step one: Wash the Rhubarb stalks and then cut into 1-inch pieces. 

Step two: Add rhubarb pieces into a freezer bag or freezer-safe container and add to your freezer. Rhubarb does not need to be flash frozen or blanched, it will easily break apart in pieces from a ziploc bag!  

Step three: When you’re ready to enjoy, pull out the frozen rhubarb and thaw.

Use rhubarb from your freezer to make this easy rhubarb cake any time of the year to enjoy the summer flavor! 

Simple Recipe for Rhubarb Cake

This wonderful recipe uses diced rhubarb and other simple ingredients you likely already have at home. No box mix is required! You only need to use one bowl and after combining the wet ingredients, you can add the dry ingredients directly into the bowl and mix! Then you’ll add tart chunks of rhubarb and nutmeg on the top of the cake and bake. It’s simple to put together and requires minimal time in the kitchen. Whip this simple cake up for an easy homemade dessert. 

Side view of slice of rhubarb cake

Buy the ingredients needed for this recipe in bulk from Azure Standard to stock up on your baking needs. This bulk organic delivery service has the highest quality ingredients, making eating from home a treat! Their vanilla extract will make any sweet treat that much more divine. Go ahead and order it in bulk!

Tools you’ll need for this recipe

This recipe is super simple and doesn’t need any fancy equipment! Use a 9×13 baking pan and a wooden spoon to mix. No stand mixer is required! if you are feeling fancy, you could use a hand mixer to combine the wet ingredients or a cake pan for a round cake. 

See all of our recommended kitchen tools in this blog post. 

close up on uncooked rhubarb cake

Ingredients you’ll need

 For the cake:

  • White sugar – gives the recipe the perfect sweetness to pair with the tart rhubarb
  • Sour cream or yogurt – gives this recipe a hint of tanginess and creates a moist cake 
  • Baking soda – the leavener to help the cake rise
  • Vanilla – use real vanilla for the best flavor
  • Farm-fresh eggs – beaten
  • All-purpose flour – get in bulk from Azure Standard for all your baking needs

Topping ingredients: 

  • Fresh Rhubarb – chopped into bite-sized pieces (or you can use frozen rhubarb that has been thawed)
  • Nutmeg – the flavor of the nutmeg pairs perfectly with the rhubarb 


The first step is to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

bowl of wet ingredients

Next, use a mixing bowl and combine the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream. Mix together until it is fully combined. 

Add the flour and baking soda directly into the mixture and stir to fully incorporate. You want to mix ingredients well, but be sure not to beat ingredients together. Being gentle with the batter will help yield a tender cake. 

Take a 9 x 13 pan and grease with butter or oil. Pour the batter into the pan.

uncooked rhubarb cake

Take the chopped rhubarb and sprinkle it on top of the cake batter, carefully to evenly distribute evenly. Then take the nutmeg and sprinkle on top to finish. 

Add to the preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes up clean when inserted into the center of the cake. 

Rhubarb cake cooked

For best results, serve when warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

To store, cover with plastic wrap or put in an airtight container. You can leave it at room temperature for 1-2 days, or in the fridge for 4-5 days. You can serve the cake cold or room temperature, or pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds for a fresh out of the oven feel! This is especially yummy when paired with vanilla ice cream so the ice cream will slightly melt into the cake. 

Rhubarb cake cooked

Grandma’s Rhubarb Cake

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream or yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 cups raw rhubarb chopped
  • 2 cups flour
  • dash nutmeg


  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Mix together the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream.
  • Add flour and baking soda, stirring gently.
  • Mix well but make sure not to beat the mixture.
  • Pour batter into a greased 9 x 13 pan.
  • Sprinkle chopped rhubarb and nutmeg on the top.
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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