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Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Servings 8 servings


For the caramel base:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons salted butter

For the cake:

  • 5-6 stalks of fresh rhubarb see notes
  • 5 Tablespoons salted butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large or extra large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk I used reduced fat
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9" cake pan with cooking spray.
  2. Melt the 1/2 cup brown sugar and 4 Tablespoons of butter in a small sauce pan until sugar dissolves and mixture has fully combined. Do not cook or bring to a boil. You just need the sugar and butter to melt and combine. Remove from heat and pour into the prepared cake pan, tilting it back and forth to cover the entire bottom evenly.
  3. Decide how you want to arrange your rhubarb and cut it appropriately. I decided on a blossom design and cut enough 3" stalks to make it around the edge of the pan. Then I just chopped up enough to fill the center. I cut the chopped pieces about the same thickness as the stalks which was about 1/2-3/4" thick. That way, everything laid pretty evenly in the pan.
  4. Arrange the rhubarb pieces in the pan on top of the caramel sauce layer.
  5. Make the cake batter. Melt the 5 Tablespoons of butter in a large microwave safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high for 1 minute or until butter is melted. Add sugar, stirring with a whisk. Add eggs and whisk to combine.
  6. Whisk in buttermilk and next four ingredients (buttermilk through baking soda.)
  7. Add flour and stir just until blended (do not over stir.) Carefully pour the batter into the pan on top of the fruit layer.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Cool for just 1 minute in pan. Place serving dish upside down on top of the cake pan and invert the cake onto the plate. Cool completely. Serve.

Recipe Notes

*You could use 1/3 to 1/2 cup of prepared caramel sauce instead of melting the brown sugar and butter together. The original light recipe calls for 1/3 cup of fat free caramel topping drizzled in the bottom of the pan. The homemade version makes the fruit sink in a bit more, but I don't mind that at all and the flavor is so much better.

*Do not allow cake to fully cool in pan before flipping or you will have difficulty getting the cake to come out. Just let it cool for a minute then flip it out onto a serving plate where it can finish cooling.

*The amount of rhubarb you need will depend upon how you "design" your top and the size of your stalks. I cut enough "sticks" to go around the perimeter of my pan and then chopped up the rest in 1/2" slices to fill in the middle. You can chop yours up in whatever design you choose, or just chop them all up into chunks and scatter around the bottom of the pan randomly.

*For those that would prefer to make a more traditional pineapple upside down cake, click this link for that recipe. Or just arrange pineapple and cherries in your desired design, patting them dry with paper towels first to absorb any excess moisture.

*If you do check out the pineapple version, you'll notice that the rhubarb cake looks a bit denser. The rhubarb likely released more moisture than the other fruit. It made for a moister top...almost pie like, but we enjoyed it just the same. Cake adapted from Cooking Light, August 2001 Issue

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