Upside-down Rhubarb Cake Ronit Penso
Cakes, Cakes and Desserts, Food, fruit, Uncategorized

Upside-down Rhubarb Cake

Upside-down Rhubarb Cake Ronit Penso

Upside-down cakes got a bad reputation in the States, and it is no wonder why, when most of the recipes for it call for “a box of yellow cake mix, canned pineapples in heavy syrup and artificially colored red maraschino cherries”…
Yet, upside-down cakes are wonderful when prepared properly, with fresh ingredients; the sugar and butter at the bottom caramelize lightly, blending nicely with the fruit, and with the cake batter on top. Add to this the fact that the cake is very easy to make, and you can’t help but wonder why on earth anyone would consider ruining this nice cake with all those horrid ingredients. So, here’s a chance to redeem the cakes’ bad reputation.

As I found beautiful rhubarb at the store, I’ve decided to use it for the fruit layer – and it turned out to be a great match. The color pops up and the tangy flavor is the perfect balance for the sweetness of the cake.
I’ve also decided to use dark brown sugar for the bottom (i.e. top), instead of the traditional white sugar. The brown sugar adds another layer of flavor and creates an interesting contrast with the pale batter. Sprinkling spices over the sugar layer, added a wonderful aroma to the cake. The result was a cake I will most likely make again soo, and I’m sure you will too, once you’ll try it.

* White or golden sugar, can be used instead for the dark brown sugar I’ve used here.
* If you can’t find rhubarb, red plums, or any firm tart fruits, will work as well.

Makes: 6
Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 35 minutes

For the rhubarb layer:
1/3 stick (40 grams) soft butter
¾ cup dark brown sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
¼ tsp ginger powder
2 rhubarb stalks (see notes)
For the batter:
2/3 stick (75 grams) soft butter
¾ cup white sugar
2 L eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
Dash salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).
2. The fruit layer: spread the butter over the bottom of a 9½” (24cm) deep cake pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top, avoiding about ¼” (½ cm) from the sides (this will help in releasing the cake from the pan later on). Sprinkle the spices on top. Cut the rhubarb into 1” (2 cm) pieces. Arrange in circles on top of the sugar. Keep in the fridge until the batter is ready.
Upside-down Rhubarb Cake Ronit PensoUpside-down Rhubarb Cake Ronit Penso Upside-down Rhubarb Cake Ronit PensoUpside-down Rhubarb Cake Ronit Penso Upside-down Rhubarb Cake Ronit Penso
3. The batter: place the butter and white sugar in a mixer bowl, fitted with the mixing hook. Mix until combined. Add the eggs and mix again.
Upside-down Rhubarb Cake Ronit PensoP1000781
Add the milk and mix lightly (the mixture will seem “broken”- don’t be alarmed, it’s fine). Add the vanilla, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix to a smooth batter, scraping the sides of the bowl once.
4. Pour the batter over the rhubarb layer, from the center out, again avoiding the sides.
5. Bake for 35 minutes,  or until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Take the pan out of the oven and let it stand for 1-2 minutes in the pan.
Upside-down Rhubarb Cake Ronit Penso
6. Place a plate (the size of the pan or bigger) on top of the pan. Using oven mitts (remember, the pan is still hot!) hold both the plate and pan together, and turn the pan upside down over the plate. Place on a work surface and carefully remove the pan.
7. If there is still caramelized sugar at the bottom of the pan, scrape it gently and add to the top of the cake. Let cool to room temperature before cutting.
Upside-down Rhubarb Cake Ronit Penso

46 thoughts on “Upside-down Rhubarb Cake”

  1. It took me a while to understand what is needed to be done here to turn the cake upside done.
    It’s great you give so many detailed photos, as it makes the whole process clear, though I’m not sure an inexperienced baker will be able to do it.
    But of course it’s much better to have a homemade cake rather than buying an artificial industrious cake.


    1. I know it looks complicated, but I can assure you, it’s really much easier than it looks.
      Give it a try and you’ll see for yourself… 🙂


    1. Thank you and I’m glad you liked it. I too love rhubarb and plan to post more recipes with it. It’s so versatile. 🙂


  2. OMG! That hurts. *wink*
    Raised my kids on a farm in Michigan. ..with orchards, gardens & rhubarb! Every year making strawberry/rhubarb freezer jam. And pies. I don’t see rhubarb in Arizona 😦

    But this looks delicious & thanks. Because IF I do spot any…I’ll be making this recipe! ♥


    1. Thanks for your comment. I understand the frustration, but maybe you can bug the supermarket manager into getting rhubarb in season… sometimes it works… 🙂


  3. Hello, this is in the oven now, can I use your recipe for my blog and I will of course reference your blog and all that jazz, is that okay with you? John


    1. Wow, you are really quick! 🙂
      Of course you can use the recipe and thanks for the reference. I’ll be happy to see the results.. Ronit


  4. Great tip about not spreading the batter all the way to the edge!

    Butter – my favorite flavor – and dark brown sugar! I’m salivating! I use coconut sugar for coffee and granola, but haven’t tried it in baking. But only because I don’t bake any more (except pizza, of course!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks I’m glad the tip helps! 🙂
      I use coconut sugar every now and then, but it’s fairly pricey with a distinctive taste, so not in everything I bake. I do think it would be suitable in this cake, but as you don’t bake anymore, not sure it’s relevant! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

          1. I suppose, but I formerly made THE MOST delicious devil’s food cake using buttermilk and melted chocolate cubes. Oh my! I looked for my recipe for it the other day, but came up empty. Most of my recipes are in a box that I made in Home Ec class in high school. But no go. 😦

            Liked by 1 person

              1. It was one that my mother made all the time, so not printed anywhere. I thought sure I had it, but, over the years, I’ve looked in vain. I didn’t want to make it – just have it close at hand.

                Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank yo Susan! It is one of my “go-to” cakes, whenever I need something quick, tasty and still impressive. It goes with just about any acidic fruit, but this version with the rhubarb is my favorite. I hope you’ll enjoy the results. 🙂


  5. I love making upside down cakes, especially when they are fresh and from scratch. You did an amazing job of outlining everything that needs to be done, step by step. I’ve never had rhubarb before, it might just become my next baking adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

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