Rhubarb cake is the perfect combination of sweet and tart and soft and slightly crunchy cake. This quick rhubarb crumb cake has a moist batter with sour cream that gets topped with stewed, tangy rhubarb, and a layer of sweet and salty streusel topping. It is a great expression of contrasts that will keep you coming back for more.
Rhubarb is a gorgeous pink and red and its flavor is equally as bright. That's what makes this rhubarb coffee cake so delicious. It pairs the tart stewed rhubarb with a sweet crumble topping that you just can't resist.
Rhubarb is one of the first plants to grow in Spring, so I always get so excited to bake with it. It means that we're finally out of the cold winter months and warm, long nights are on their way!
If you're just here for the streusel topping, you'll also love this Apple Streusel Coffee Cake, Cinnamon Apple Crumble Muffins with Oats, Cinnamon Coffee Cake Cookies, Pumpkin Sour Cream Coffee Cake or Dutch Caramel Apple Pie with Crumb Topping.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Rhubarb - This is one of my favorite fruits, which is actually a vegetable! It has a unique, sharp acidity that mellows when cooked down with sugar. It also has a beautifully vibrant red and pink color that shines through when cooked.
Crumb topping - Who doesn't love streusel? It is rich, sweet, salty, and a little bit crunchy. It takes any ordinary cake or bar and makes it extraordinary in both flavor and texture.
Unique - This rhubarb crumble cake is like a traditional coffee cake with a special twist. Instead of a cinnamon swirl, there is a jammy layer of cooked down rhubarb in between the cake and the crumb topping.
- Rhubarb. Fresh, brightly colored rhubarb is used in this recipe. Look for very red stalks.
- Lemon. Lemon juice gets added to the rhubarb compote to add even more brightness and acidity.
- Sugars. Both light brown sugar and granulated sugar is used within the components of this recipe.
- Sour cream. Room-temperature sour cream is used in the cake batter to provide moisture.
- Milk. Room-temperature milk is also added to the cake batter for extra fat and moisture.
- Vegetable oil. Creamed into the butter and sugars to create an extra-moist cake.
See recipe card for full ingredients list and quantities.
Substitutions and Variations
- Substitute half of the rhubarb with diced apples to mellow the tartness.
- Add half strawberries for a classic strawberry rhubarb version.
- Add half raspberries for an extra kick of berries with extra tang.
- Add a touch of ground cinnamon to any of the components of the recipe for a warmed spiced version.
- Use buttermilk in place of the combined volume of the milk and sour cream.
How to Make This Recipe
One: Mix together the butter, sugar, flour and salt with a fork until crumbles form. Set aside.
Two: Add the chopped rhubarb, lemon juice, and sugar to a pan over medium heat.
Three: Cook until softened, then add the cornstarch and water and stir in until thickened. Add the vanilla and set aside to cool.
Four: Mix together the butter and sugars for a few minutes until combined.
Five: Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla and beat until smooth.
Six: Whisk together the milk and sour cream, then alternate adding the dry ingredients and wet ingredients.
Seven: Beat until smooth and combined.
Eight: Add the cake batter to a prepared springform pan and smooth it out evenly.
Nine: Add the cooked rhubarb and gently spread to meet the edges. Don't push it down into the cake batter.
Ten: Sprinkle the crumble topping all over the rhubarb layer, getting to the very edges. Bake until completely set, then cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Allow the rhubarb filling to cool prior to adding it on top of the cake batter.
- Don't over-mix the batter. Only mix it until the flour is just incorporated and you can no longer see swirls of flour.
- The warmer the cake, the more difficult it will be to slice. However, it is the most delicious warm!
- Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper for easy cake removal.
Yes, you can, but you should never eat the leaves as they contain dangerous toxins. Make sure to only utilize the stalks. Most leaves will be already be cut off in versions you find in the grocery stores, but they may be left on at farmers markets.
Yes, this cake freezes well. Flash freeze the cake whole or in slices, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place into an airtight container. Unwrap and thaw in the fridge.
Rhubarb can be found in many grocery stores from May through July and is often stocked at farmers markets. This produce is incredibly seasonal and typically cannot be found outside of these months. You may be able to find sliced, frozen rhubarb outside of its growing season.
The tartness becomes nicely balanced with the sweetness of the cake, and it softens during the bake time into a jammy consistency.
Store the cake covered at room temperature for 3-4 days or in the fridge for one week. To freeze, wrap the cake or slices tightly in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, and freeze for up to two months.
Unwrap completely and thaw at room temperature.
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Rhubarb Crumble Cake
- 9-inch springform pan or 8x8 inch square pan
- Mixing bowls
- Stand mixer with paddle attachment, or handheld mixer
- Large skillet
- 3 cups diced rhubarb ~5 large stalks
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 6 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar packed
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ cup light brown sugar packed
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
- ¼ cup full-fat sour cream room temperature
- ¼ cup whole milk room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 350℉/180℃. Grease the entire pan, then line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper. Alternatively, use an 8x8 inch square pan line with parchment paper.
- Wash and dice the rhubarb into 1cm pieces.3 cups diced rhubarb
- Add the rhubarb, lemon juice, and sugar to a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook for about 3 minutes until the rhubarb begins to soften slightly.2 tablespoons lemon juice, ¼ cup granulated sugar
- Mix together the cornstarch and water and stir it into the rhubarb. Cook for thirty seconds, stirring the whole time.1 tablespoon corn starch, 2 tablespoons water
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside while you make the streusel and cake batter.1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- Melt the butter, then use a fork to mix it together with the flour, sugars, and salt until medium-sized crumbles form. Set aside.6 tablespoon unsalted butter, ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, ½ cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.1½ cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars on medium high speed for five minutes, then scrape down the sides.6 tablespoons unsalted butter, ½ cup light brown sugar, ½ cup granulated sugar
- Add the eggs, oil, vanilla and mix on medium speed for one minute. Scrape down the sides again.¼ cup vegetable oil, 2 large eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
- Mix together the sour cream and milk. With the mixer running on low, add half of the flour mixture then half of the milk mixture. Repeat with the remaining wet and dry ingredients.¼ cup full-fat sour cream, ¼ cup whole milk
- Mix until the flour is just combined, and use a rubber spatula to finish folding in any flour on the sides of the bowl.
- Add the cake batter to the prepared pan and spread it to meet the edges.
- Spread the rhubarb filling evenly over the top of the cake batter.
- Sprinkle the crumb over the top, getting it the whole way to the edges.
- Bake the cake in the center rack of the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes until the center is no longer jiggly and a toothpick inserted down into the cake layer comes out clean.
- Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes, before slicing. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.