Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

one 9-inch cake
35 min prep time
1 hr 35 min total time

Here in Vermont, everyone has a personal rhubarb source. Either it’s a backyard plant that came with your house or there’s one tucked away in your parents’ yard.  It’s customary to snap off a stalk in late spring and drag the ends
through a plate of sugar to eat crunchy and raw. It’s a pucker-y bite for those bravesouls willing to try it. Even if you do that, save a few stalks to luxuriate in the sweet embrace of this cake. The crème de cassis (black currant liqueur) gives it a pleasant kick that plays beautifully with the rhubarb. Making this cake from Zoë Bakes provides a perfect excuse to share a slice over the backyard fence, maybe with someone who’s short on their own rhubarb hookup.


1 cup Vermont Creamery Unsalted Cultured Butter - 82% Butterfat at room temperature, divided

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided

4 tablespoon crème fe cassis, divided

kosher salt

4 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature


  • STEP 1

    Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Generously grease a 9-inch/ 23cm springform pan, then line the bottom and sides with greased parchment paper.

  • STEP 2

    In a small saucepan over low heat, combine 1⁄4 cup / 55g of the butter, 1⁄2 cup / 100g of the sugar, 2 Tbsp of the crème de cassis, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, just until melted.

  • STEP 3

    Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, then arrange the rhubarb over the top and set aside.

  • STEP 4

    In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the remaining 3⁄4 cup / 165g butter on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute.

  • STEP 5

    Turn the mixer speed to low, add the remaining 1 cup / 200g sugar and the vanilla to the butter, and mix until incorporated. Then turn the speed to medium-high and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl often for even incorporation.

  • STEP 6

    Turn the speed to medium-low and add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined. Scrape the bowl after each addition.

  • STEP 7

    In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and 1⁄2 tsp salt.

  • STEP 8

    In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the buttermilk and remaining 2 Tbsp crème de cassis.

  • STEP 9

    Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing on low speed, just until combined. Add one-half of the buttermilk mixture and mix to incorporate. Repeat with another one-third flour, the remaining liquid, and then finish with the final one-third flour, scraping the bowl and paddle after each addition.

  • STEP 10

    Scrape the batter into the pan, covering the rhubarb, and smooth the top with a spatula. Gently tap the pan on the counter several times to release excess air bubbles. Set the pan on a baking sheet.

  • STEP 11

    Bake until the cake is golden and a tester comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and undo the side of the springform. Invert onto a serving plate, allowing the base to drop with the cake, and gently peel off the base and parchment. Serve the cake slightly warm.

  • STEP 12

    Around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, try this cranberry version, which is equally tart and
    wonderful but has an even more spectacular color. Replace the rhubarb with 4 cups / 400g fresh or frozen cranberries, swap the crème de cassis for Grand Marnier, and proceed as directed.

  • STEP 13


    If using rhubarb late in the season, it can have a tough outer layer that will need to be removed with a vegetable peeler.


In Zoë Bakes Cakes, expert baker and bestselling author behind the Magnolia Network original series Zoë Bakes explores her favorite dessert—cakes—with more than 85 recipes to create flavorful and beautiful layers, loafs, Bundts, and more. 

“Reprinted from Zoe Bakes Cakes. Copyright © 2021 by Zoë François. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House”