Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce


Everyday Culinary Delights 👩‍🍳


Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce is a delightful dessert that has garnered affection from bakers and sweet tooths alike. Its unique combination of tangy rhubarb and creamy sauce makes it a standout at any gathering. Whether you’re hosting a casual picnic or a formal dinner, this cake promises to be a showstopper.

The appeal of this dessert lies in its simplicity. Using everyday ingredients, this cake offers a high reward for minimal effort, making it ideal for those last-minute dessert needs. The process involves a one-bowl method that is both time-efficient and beginner-friendly. For anyone looking to explore the culinary use of fruit in desserts, this cake is a perfect starting point. Learn more about rhubarb’s culinary uses.

Additionally, this Rhubarb Cake is versatile. It can be dressed up for special occasions or served plain for a comforting treat. The butter sauce, a simple mix of butter, sugar, and cream, is what sets this cake apart, draping it in a silky, indulgent layer that enhances the natural tartness of the rhubarb. For those interested in exploring other fruit-based desserts, the Rhubarb Dessert Recipes on Pinterest provide a wealth of creative options.

In conclusion, Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce is not just a dessert. It’s a bridge between novice bakers and confident kitchen prowess, a testament to the joys of simple baking. Whether served at a potluck or savored at home, it leaves a memorable impression, inviting everyone to enjoy a slice of sweet tradition mixed with a tang of innovation.

History and Origin of Rhubarb in Desserts

The use of rhubarb in desserts dates back centuries, with its origins rooted deeply in the culinary traditions of Asia and Europe. Initially cultivated for medicinal purposes, rhubarb’s sharp tartness was quickly recognized as a perfect counterbalance to sweet dishes.

In the United Kingdom, the vegetable became a popular pie filling during the 19th century, earning the nickname “pie plant.” Its vibrant red stalks and tangy flavor made it ideal for sweets, contrasting beautifully with sugary syrups and pastries. The history of cakes further reveals how rhubarb transitioned from a medicinal plant to a beloved dessert component.

Today, rhubarb is celebrated in a variety of desserts from pies to crumbles, and its compatibility with strawberries has become particularly renowned. These combinations harness rhubarb’s potential to add complexity and a refreshing zest to recipes.

One classic example is the Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce, where the sharpness of rhubarb perfectly complements the sweet, rich butter sauce, creating a harmonious blend of flavors. For those looking to explore rhubarb further, Pinterest offers an array of Rhubarb Dessert Recipes that showcase its versatility in baking.

Ingredients Breakdown

Understanding the ingredients is crucial when baking a Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce. Here’s a detailed breakdown, including potential substitutions for dietary preferences:

  • All-purpose flour: The base of the cake, providing structure. For a gluten-free version, substitute with an equal amount of gluten-free all-purpose flour.
  • Granulated sugar: Adds sweetness that balances the tartness of the rhubarb. If you prefer a less refined option, coconut sugar is a great alternative.
  • Baking powder: A leavening agent that helps the cake rise. Ensure it’s fresh for the best results.
  • Salt: Enhances the flavors of the other ingredients.
  • Rhubarb: The star of the show. Use fresh for the best texture and flavor, but frozen can also be used. Make sure to thaw and drain well to avoid a soggy cake.
  • Milk: Adds moisture. Dairy-free milk like almond or oat can be substituted.
  • Butter: For richness. Vegan butter works as a substitute for a dairy-free version.

Each ingredient plays a pivotal role in the cake’s texture and taste. The rhubarb should be diced into small pieces to distribute evenly throughout the cake, ensuring that each bite has a good balance of tart and sweet.

For further reading on the ingredients commonly used in desserts and their substitutions, visit the Wikipedia page on dietary substitutions in baking.

When it comes to the Butter Sauce, simplicity is key:

  • Butter, heavy cream, and sugar combine to create a lusciously smooth topping. For a lighter version, half-and-half can replace heavy cream, though it will be less rich.

As you gather these ingredients, consider exploring Gluten-Free Dessert Ideas on Pinterest for more inspiration on how to adapt recipes to various dietary needs.

Step-by-Step Baking Guide

Creating a perfect Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce involves a few crucial steps that ensure a delicious outcome. Here’s a detailed, step-by-step guide:

  1. Preparation: Start by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C) and greasing a 9×13 inch baking pan. This size is ideal for ensuring that the cake cooks evenly.
  2. Mixing the Dry Ingredients:
    • In a large mixing bowl, sift together 4 cups of all-purpose flour, 2 cups of granulated sugar, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Sifting not only combines these ingredients but also aerates the flour, making the cake lighter.
  3. Adding the Rhubarb and Wet Ingredients:
    • To the dry mixture, gently stir in 2 cups of milk and 6 tablespoons of melted butter. Mix until just combined to avoid overworking the batter, which can make the cake tough.
    • Fold in 4 cups of diced rhubarb, ensuring it is evenly distributed throughout the batter.
  4. Baking the Cake:
    • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
    • Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The right baking time is crucial for a moist cake; overbaking can lead to dryness.
  5. Making the Butter Sauce:
    • While the cake bakes, prepare the butter sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 1/2 cup of butter.
    • Stir in 1 cup of sugar and 3/4 cup of heavy cream. Bring to a boil and let it boil for 1 minute, stirring frequently. This creates a thick, glossy sauce that’s perfect for drizzling.
    • Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly, which thickens the sauce further.
  6. Serving:
    • Once the cake is done, allow it to cool slightly in the pan before cutting into pieces.
    • Serve each piece warm, generously drizzled with the warm butter sauce. The sauce can be reheated if it thickens too much upon cooling.

For those interested in baking techniques, the Wikipedia page on Baking offers valuable insights into how different methods can affect the outcome of your desserts. Additionally, if you are exploring vegan options, check out Vegan Rhubarb Recipes on Pinterest for dairy-free adaptations of this cake.

Common Mistakes and Troubleshooting

Even experienced bakers can encounter issues when making Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce. Here are some common pitfalls and their solutions to ensure your dessert turns out perfectly every time:

  • Overmixing the Batter: This is a frequent error that can make the cake dense and heavy. To avoid this, mix the dry and wet ingredients until just combined. It’s okay if there are a few lumps; they will dissolve during baking.
  • Using Too Much Rhubarb: While rhubarb is the star of this dessert, overloading the cake with it can result in a soggy bottom. Measure the rhubarb carefully and ensure it is evenly distributed throughout the batter.
  • Not Preheating the Oven: Getting the oven to the right temperature before baking is crucial. An oven that’s not fully preheated can lead to undercooked cake, especially in the middle. Use an oven thermometer to verify the temperature.
  • Skipping the Sifting Process: Sifting the flour and other dry ingredients helps to aerate the mixture, promoting a lighter, fluffier texture in the cake. Skipping this step can result in a tougher cake texture.

If you encounter problems like a cracked top or the cake sticking to the pan, here are some quick fixes:

  • Cracked Top: This often happens if the oven temperature is too high. Make sure to bake the cake at the recommended temperature and position the rack in the middle of the oven.
  • Cake Sticking to the Pan: To prevent sticking, generously grease the baking pan and consider lining it with parchment paper for easy removal.

For more detailed advice on baking and troubleshooting, the Baking Techniques Wikipedia page provides extensive information. Additionally, those looking for creative presentation ideas might find inspiration in the Cake Serving Ideas on Pinterest, which offer numerous ways to enhance the visual appeal of your desserts.

Variations of Rhubarb Cake

Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce is wonderfully adaptable, allowing for various modifications to suit different tastes and dietary requirements. Here are some popular variations:

  • Vegan Version: Replace the dairy milk with almond or coconut milk, and use vegan butter in both the cake and the sauce. To enhance the vegan cake’s richness, add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the milk to mimic buttermilk.
  • Gluten-Free Version: Swap the all-purpose flour for a gluten-free flour blend that includes xanthan gum, which helps to mimic the texture of glutenous cakes.
  • Sugar-Free Version: For a lower sugar version, substitute granulated sugar with a granulated sugar substitute like stevia or erythritol in both the cake and the sauce. Adjust the quantity to taste, as these substitutes vary in sweetness.
  • Strawberry-Rhubarb Variation: Add sliced strawberries to the rhubarb mixture for a classic flavor combination that adds sweetness and color to the cake.
  • Spice Infused: Introduce spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom to the flour mixture to add warmth and depth to the cake’s flavor profile.

Each of these variations allows you to personalize the cake based on your dietary preferences or simply to try something new. The key is to maintain the balance between the tartness of the rhubarb and the sweet, creamy texture of the sauce.

For those interested in further culinary exploration, the Culinary Use of Fruit in Desserts Wikipedia page provides a broader perspective on how different fruits can be incorporated into desserts. Additionally, exploring Vegan Rhubarb Recipes on Pinterest can offer more inspiration for those looking to make plant-based adaptations.

Pairing and Serving Suggestions

Properly pairing and presenting Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce can enhance the overall dining experience. Here are some expert tips for serving this delightful dessert:

  • Temperature: Serve the cake warm to maximize the richness of the butter sauce. Gently reheat the sauce if it has thickened or cooled, ensuring it drizzles smoothly over the cake.
  • Beverage Pairings:
    • Coffee: A strong, black coffee provides a robust contrast to the sweet and tart flavors of the cake.
    • Tea: A lightly spiced chai or a refreshing green tea can complement the tanginess of the rhubarb.
    • Dessert Wine: A sweet dessert wine, like a Riesling or Moscato, pairs beautifully with the cake’s flavors, echoing its sweetness and acidity.
  • Additional Toppings:
    • Sprinkle a light dusting of powdered sugar or cinnamon on top for a touch of elegance.
    • Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream to soften the intense flavors and add a creamy texture.

Incorporating these serving suggestions will make Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce not just a dessert, but a memorable part of any meal. For creative presentation ideas, consider exploring Cake Serving Ideas on Pinterest, which can inspire you to elevate your dessert presentation to the next level.

Health Benefits of Rhubarb

Rhubarb is not only a unique ingredient in terms of flavor but also offers various health benefits that make Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce a slightly healthier dessert option. Here are some notable health advantages of incorporating rhubarb into your diet:

  • Dietary Fiber: Rhubarb is a good source of dietary fiber, which helps in maintaining digestive health and regularity. Fiber also aids in managing blood sugar levels, making it beneficial for diabetes management.
  • Vitamin K: This essential nutrient is abundant in rhubarb, playing a crucial role in bone health and blood clotting. Regular consumption can help in maintaining strong bones.
  • Antioxidants: Rhubarb contains several compounds that have antioxidant properties, such as anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins. These antioxidants help in fighting free radicals, reducing oxidative stress, and potentially lowering the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Calcium and Vitamin C: While it is not a primary source, rhubarb does contribute a modest amount of calcium and Vitamin C, which are important for skeletal health and immune system function, respectively.

To learn more about the nutritional benefits of rhubarb and other fruits used in desserts, visit the Culinary Use of Fruit in Desserts Wikipedia page.

Including rhubarb in desserts like this cake not only adds a unique flavor profile but also contributes to a more nutritious meal, making it a worthwhile addition to your dessert repertoire.


Q1: Can I use frozen rhubarb for this cake?

  • A1: Yes, you can use frozen rhubarb. Just ensure that it is thawed and well-drained to prevent excess moisture from making the cake soggy. Do not squeeze the rhubarb; let it drain naturally.

Q2: What are some good substitutes for sugar in the butter sauce if I’m watching my sugar intake?

  • A2: For those looking to reduce sugar, consider using a sugar substitute like stevia or erythritol. You can also reduce the amount of sugar and add a bit of honey for natural sweetness.

Q3: How long can I store Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce?

  • A3: This cake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The butter sauce should be stored separately and warmed up before serving.

Q4: Is there a dairy-free alternative for the butter sauce?

  • A4: Absolutely! Use coconut cream and vegan butter as substitutes in the butter sauce to make it dairy-free. The consistency and flavor will be slightly different but still delicious.

Q5: Can I add other fruits to this recipe?

  • A5: Yes, adding strawberries or apples can complement the tartness of the rhubarb and bring a new flavor dimension to the cake. Adjust the quantity of rhubarb accordingly to balance the moisture and flavor.

Q6: What is the best way to serve this cake for a formal event?

  • A6: For a formal event, present the cake on a decorative cake stand, and use a fine mesh sieve to dust the top lightly with powdered sugar. Serve the butter sauce in a graceful pitcher or gravy boat for guests to add as they please.

Q7: Can this cake be made in advance?

  • A7: Yes, you can bake the cake a day in advance. Keep it covered at room temperature. Make the butter sauce fresh on the day of serving to ensure it has the best texture and flavor.
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Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce

  • Author: Naomi
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 15 servings


Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce is a delightful treat that combines the tartness of rhubarb with the sweet, creamy richness of butter sauce. This recipe offers a twist on traditional desserts, incorporating the vibrant flavors of rhubarb into a simple yet elegant cake that’s perfect for any occasion.


4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups diced rhubarb (fresh or frozen and thawed)
2 cups milk
6 tablespoons melted butter
Butter Sauce:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream


Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add diced rhubarb, milk, and melted butter. Stir just until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
To make the butter sauce: In a saucepan, combine butter, sugar, and heavy cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat, boil for 1 minute while stirring frequently. Let cool slightly.
Serve the cake warm with a generous drizzle of the warm butter sauce.


  • Ingredient Quality: For the best results, use fresh rhubarb when in season. The freshness of the rhubarb significantly enhances the flavor profile of the cake.
  • Baking Pan: A 9×13 inch baking pan is recommended for even cooking. Ensure the pan is well-greased to prevent sticking, or line it with parchment paper for easier cleanup.
  • Oven Calibration: Ovens can vary, so it’s a good idea to use an oven thermometer to ensure accurate temperature settings. This will help prevent overbaking or underbaking.
  • Sauce Consistency: The butter sauce should be smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If the sauce is too thin, continue boiling for an additional minute. If too thick, thin it out with a little more cream.
  • Serving Suggestion: For an extra touch of sophistication, garnish the cake with a sprinkle of edible flowers or finely zested citrus peel before serving. This not only adds color but also a hint of fresh aroma.
  • Storage: Store leftover cake covered in the refrigerator. Reheat slices gently in the microwave, and warm the sauce separately to maintain the best texture and flavor.
  • Dietary Modifications: Refer to the variations section for substitutions that cater to vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-conscious diets. Adapting the recipe to these needs allows more guests to enjoy this delightful dessert without compromise.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Cake
  • Cuisine: American


  • Calories: 363 kcal per serving

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