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Rhubarb Breakfast Cake Recipe

There is something special about a piece of warm rhubarb breakfast cake and a cup of hot coffee or homemade dandelion root tea on a spring morning that starts the day right.

Rhubarb breakfast cake in a loaf pan on a wooden counter.

The rhubarb stands on its own in this delicious cake, taking it a step above the ordinary muffin or bar. Instead of enjoying our gluten-free cinnamon rolls or whole wheat scones for a breakfast treat, we like to use fresh rhubarb when it’s in season.

This easy rhubarb breakfast cake recipe doesn’t need a strawberry or blueberry addition to be delicious, although adding them in can create a delicious flavor combination. You get to choose to add in the extra fruit or let the rhubarb be the star ingredient. 

Why I Love This Recipe

Rhubarb, this beautiful wonder plant that arrives at the first sign of spring, can thrive and provide for up to sixty years. The amazing health qualities of this perennial plant date back to the Chinese around 2700 B.C. 

Our winter garden prep for a better spring garden keeps the rhubarb coming back year after year, stronger and more nutritious than ever. 

Our family likes rhubarb; we can eat it year-round because our rhubarb plants are prolific. This hardy plant can be eaten fresh right out of the garden or preserved using methods such as canning, freeze-drying or dehydrating. If eating fresh, be sure not to consume the leaves as they are toxic.

We often think of rhubarb paired with strawberries in a holiday pie, canned strawberry rhubarb jam, a quick and easy cobbler or this easy fruit leather recipe, but ultimately our family enjoys rhubarb in this delicious rhubarb breakfast cake recipe. 

The soft, moist cake, with a sweet and tart rhubarb filling and topped with a tasty crumble, describes why I call it rhubarb breakfast cake. It has a few more ingredients than some coffee cake recipes, but it is well worth the extra effort. 

Rhubarb keeps well in the refrigerator when prepared correctly and freezes great for desserts and other recipes. Hence, it’s ideal for year-round baking and other recipes I share in our Silver Homestead Membership.

Magazine cover for In the Homestead Kitchen rhubarb edition.

In the Homestead Kitchen

This recipe was featured in issue no. 7 of In the Homestead Kitchen Magazine: Rhubarb Edition. If you’d like access to more recipes like this, you can subscribe here.

With your subscription, you will receive a beautifully designed monthly digital magazine full of recipes, DIY tutorials, and homesteading tips and stories to guide and inspire you in your kitchen.

As a bonus, this affordable subscription also offers access to hundreds of Homesteading Family’s in-depth instructional videos to teach and support you as you learn essential homesteading skills. 

Subscribe today, and together we will fill our pantries, feed our families, and change our culture!

A man's hands harvesting rhubarb.

Is Rhubarb Good For You?

Rhubarb has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes with its high vitamin C and fiber content. It was documented for saving the lives of Canadian fur traders in the 1700s, preventing them from digestive issues and scurvy.

Ways to Serve Rhubarb Breakfast Cake

Rhubarb breakfast cake isn’t just for breakfast. Although we love it with homemade yogurt on the side. You can also top it with vanilla ice cream for dessert. We serve it as an afternoon snack with a glass of fresh raw milk or enjoy it on a family picnic with homemade kombucha.

Rhubarb breakfast cake in a loaf pan on a wooden counter.

Supplies Needed

  • Three Medium-Sized Mixing Bowls – This recipe works best when there is a bowl for the crumble topping, one for the seasoned rhubarb and one for the cake ingredients.
  • Measuring Cups – You will need various sizes to measure several ingredients accurately.
  • Measuring Spoons – Tablespoon and teaspoon measures of various sizes are best for this recipe.
  • Stand Mixer – One with a whisk attachment works best; a hand mixer with electric beaters works well too. If these aren’t available, good ole fashioned elbow grease will do the job.
  • Pastry Cutter or Fork – I enjoy using my fingers to work in the butter pieces, but a fork or pastry cutter works too.
  • Baking Pan – I prefer a 13×9 baking pan for this recipe, but you can divide it between two or three loaf pans for more of a rhubarb quick bread. 
  • Rubber Spatula – I make sure to get every delicious drop of cake batter into the baking pan with a rubber spatula. It also works well to spread the batter evenly in the baking pan.
Cut rhubarb on a wooden deck.

Ingredients Needed

Crumble Topping

  • Flour – All-purpose flour works best, but wheat flour or gluten-free would also work.
  • Cornmeal – Store-bought or fresh ground adds a nice crumbly texture.
  • Sugar – I use organic evaporated cane juice.
  • Brown Sugar – Light or dark brown will do, whatever you have in the kitchen.
  • Baking Powder – Check the expiration date for the best quality and be sure to remove any lumps.
  • Salt – I use Redmond Real Salt; just make sure your salt has no additives. (Using that link for Redmond Salt will automatically give you 15% off your order!)
  • Chilled Butter – Store bought will do, or learn how to make butter at home. Cut it up into small pieces so it mixes evenly.
  • Whole Egg – Whisk the egg lightly before adding it to the crumble recipe.

Cake:

  • Butter (room temperature) – The butter creams well when it is at room temperature.
  • Flour – All-purpose, unbleached flour works well in this recipe.
  • Fresh Rhubarb – Washed, trimmed and sliced into 1/2” pieces.
  • Additional Fruit (optional) – You can substitute up to two cups of the fresh rhubarb with another fruit such as sliced strawberries or blueberries. 
  • Ground Ginger – The ginger works so well with the cinnamon for the perfect spiciness to this cake.
  • Ground Cinnamon – A great spice to add warmth to this cake recipe.
  •  Granulated Sugar – Again, I use organic evaporated cane juice, but use what you have on hand. You could use an alternative sweetener, but it may change the crumb texture of the cake.
  • Cornmeal – This adds a great texture to the cake.
  • Baking Powder – Make sure it’s not expired; it gives the cake its rise.
  • Salt – Salt brings out the flavor in food; use a good salt like Redmond Real Salt.
  • Buttermilk – If you don’t have it on hand, whole milk works well too. Homesteading Hack: A good replacement tip if you don’t have buttermilk is half and half (or whole milk) with a teaspoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, allowing 5 minutes to “sour” before using it in the recipe.
  • Plain Whole-Milk Yogurt or Sour Cream – Either one adds the creamy tartness and moist density to this cake.
  • Brown Sugar – I use light brown, but dark brown is also fine; it adds a more molasses flavor which works well with the ginger and cinnamon.
  • Egg Yolks – Don’t throw away the egg whites. They can be kept in the refrigerator and used for another recipe. Homesteading Hack: Freezing eggs is a great way to preserve them for later use.
Rhubarb breakfast cake in a loaf pan on a wooden counter.

How to Make Rhubarb Breakfast Cake

Make the crumb topping: 

  1. Whisk the sugar, cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt thoroughly in a medium bowl and set aside. 
  2. Using your fingers, a fork or a pastry cutter, work in butter pieces until the crumbs are the size of small peas.
  3. Using a fork, stir in the whisked egg until the mixture comes together. Cover and chill. This can be made up to 3 days in advance.

When you are ready to make the cake: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour a 13×9 baking dish or two loaf pans.
  2. Toss the rhubarb (and optional fruit), ginger, cinnamon, and 1⁄4 cup of granulated sugar in a medium bowl and set aside while preparing other ingredients.
  3. Whisk cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup of flour in a medium-sized bowl, and set the flour mixture aside. 
  4. Whisk buttermilk and yogurt (or sour cream) in a smaller bowl and set aside.
  5. Using a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the remaining sugars and 1⁄2 cup butter until light and fluffy. 
  6. To the butter and sugar mixture, add egg yolks one at a time, beating well between additions.
  7. Reduce speed to low and slowly add dry ingredients, alternating with milk mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
  8. Fold in rhubarb mixture. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the crumble topping liberally over the cake batter.
  9. Bake the cake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. 
  10. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly before serving.

And that’s it! You now have a delicious way to use up that fresh spring rhubarb. And make sure to harvest any rhubarb you can’t quite get through to make this recipe throughout the year. Or, try making the rhubarb filling and topping it with this homemade cobbler recipe. Delicious!

If you’re looking for more ways to use up your rhubarb, try replacing cranberries in any recipe with it – you’ll be amazed. 

And talk about abundance! No more expensive, spindly little bundles from the store because a few established plants will bring you years of fabulous eating.

Did you make this recipe? If so, please leave a star rating in the recipe card below. Then, snap a photo and tag us on social media @homesteadingfamily so we can see!

Fruit cobbler in a serving dish with spoon.
Rhubarb breakfast cake in a loaf pan on a wooden counter.

Rhubarb Breakfast Cake

Looking to deviate from the typical strawberry rhubarb muffins? Try this healthy and easy recipe for rhubarb breakfast cake. Served up with a cup of hot coffee it's the best spring morning treat.
3.77 from 147 votes
Print Pin
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 20 servings
Calories: 221kcal
Author: Carolyn Thomas

Ingredients

Crumble Topping

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons butter chilled
  • 1 whole egg lightly beaten

Cake

  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature
  • 1 cup flour
  • 5 cups rhubarb can substitute up to two cups with another fruit
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup yogurt or sour cream
  • 4 large eggs added one at a time

Instructions

To Make the Crumb Topping

  • Whisk the sugar, cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt thoroughly in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Using your fingers, a fork or a pastry cutter, work in butter pieces until the crumbs are the size of small peas.
  • Using a fork, stir in the whisked egg until the mixture comes together. Cover and chill. This can be made up to 3 days in advance.

To Make the Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour a 13×9 baking dish or two loaf pans.
  • Toss the rhubarb (and optional fruit), ginger, cinnamon, and 1⁄4 cup of granulated sugar in a medium bowl and set aside while preparing other ingredients.
  • Whisk cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup of flour in a medium-sized bowl, and set the flour mixture aside.
  • Whisk buttermilk and yogurt (or sour cream) in a smaller bowl and set aside.
  • Using a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the remaining sugars and 1⁄2 cup butter until light and fluffy. 
  • To the butter and sugar mixture, add eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions.
  • Reduce speed to low and slowly add dry ingredients, alternating with milk mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
  • Fold in rhubarb mixture. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the crumble topping liberally over the cake batter.
  • Bake the cake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. 
  • Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly before serving.

Notes

If you’re looking for more ways to use up your rhubarb, try replacing cranberries in any recipe with it – you’ll be amazed.

Nutrition

Calories: 221kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 280mg | Potassium: 189mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 306IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 89mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?We want to see! Tag @homesteadingfamily on Instagram.
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