Rhubarb-Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake

Rhubarb might be the new upside-down cake queen.

Rhubarb-Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake
Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Christine Keely
Active Time:
15 mins
Bake Time:
50 mins
Cool Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins

When you think of an upside-down cake, you probably picture a layer of pineapple rings, accented with glossy maraschino cherries. While we love a classic pineapple upside-down cake, our recipe for Rhubarb-Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake is here to prove that upside-down cakes hold infinite possibilities.

'Tis the season for all things rhubarb. Rhubarb only grows a few weeks out of the year, but we cherish the short season when this tart stalk is at its peak by making this Rhubarb-Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake. In this recipe, tender vanilla cake is crowned with soft and tangy rhubarb stalks, lightly enhanced with strawberry jam. Many upside-down cake recipes use brown sugar to create a caramelized topping when the cake is inverted, but this one is made with granulated sugar and strawberry jam to preserve the rhubarb's vibrant pink color.

A dollop of crème fraiche adds the perfect amount of tang to finish the cake, and enhances the flavor of the buttermilk in the batter. The final result is a single-layer cake that might just be the prettiest dessert we've ever seen.


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 2 ¼ cups granulated sugar, divided

  • ¼ cup seedless strawberry jam

  • 4 large rhubarb stalks, trimmed and cut into 2¾- x ⅓-inch pieces (about 60 pieces total, 8 oz.) 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 large eggs

  • ½ cup canola oil

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 1 ½ cups whole buttermilk

  • Crème fraîche, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13- x 9-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper. Drizzle butter evenly over bottom of parchment paper in pan, and sprinkle evenly with ¼ cup of the sugar. Place jam in a small microwavable bowl. Microwave on HIGH until melted, 30 to 45 seconds. Brush jam over sugar in pan. Arrange 4 or 5 rhubarb pieces, skin side (pink side) facing down, horizontally in 1 corner of pan. Arrange 4 or 5 rhubarb pieces vertically next to first section. Repeat process, alternating between horizontal and vertical positioning, to create a grid pattern.

  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and remaining 2 cups sugar with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low, and beat in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Pour batter evenly over rhubarb in pan. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

  3. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cake cool 10 minutes. Carefully invert cake onto wire rack; remove parchment paper. Let cake cool on wire rack at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature with crème fraîche.

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