This easy, Healthy Rhubarb Cake is a quick, delicious and healthy dessert that can be made with fresh or frozen rhubarb. This cake is loaded with a whole pound of rhubarb and every bite has heavenly pops of juicy, sweet and sour rhubarb goodness. This is hands down my favorite early summer dessert and I make it the second the rhubarb in my garden is ready for picking!
This rhubarb cake is winning in every way: it’s super easy to make, it comes together in no time and it is filled with super healthy rhubarb. It is fantastic with tea or coffee and a perfect dessert for a May or June BBQ outside. Be warned: it disappears so fast, you may need to make two.
Growing up in Poland, we had seasonal fruit cakes like this one on rotation all summer long. This sponge cake made with oil (I use light olive oil) is the perfect canvas for any fruit but works exceptionally well with berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries), peaches or rhubarb. You can mix and match your favorite fruit but, I have to say, rhubarb is by far my favorite mix in for this cake. I just love the perfect balance of sour rhubarb, light sweet cake, cinnamon and the dusting of powdered sugar on top.
Make sure to also check out my Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Smoothie Bowl for another creative way to use up rhubarb from your garden.
Health benefits of rhubarb
Is it a fruit? A vegetable? A weed? Is rhubarb good for you? I gathered some facts about rhubarb below. Bottom line is that rhubarb is healthy and delicious.
- Though rhubarb is technically a vegetable, the USDA classifies it as fruit. Because it’s usually used in desserts, I think of it as fruit.
- Rhubarb is a good source of fiber and vitamin K.
- It is very high in antioxidants which can help prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes and premature aging.
- Only rhubarb stems are edible. The leaves are toxic and should be discarded.
- Rhubarb has long been used for medicinal purposes, especially in Chinese medicine.
- Rhubarb is good for digestion and prevents constipation.
- If you’re interested, here are more health benefits of rhubarb.
Now that you know all the wonderful rhubarb’s benefits, let’s make the rhubarb cake!
Rhubarb: use fresh or frozen rhubarb stems. If you pick your own, cut off the bottoms and the leaves. No need to peel the stems - just give them a wash. If you're using frozen rhubarb, see my note below.
Coconut Sugar: less refined than regular sugar and gives the cake a nice golden color and slightly caramely flavor. If you prefer a more traditional version, you can use other sugar, such as organic cane sugar or just plain old regular white sugar.
Eggs: free range and/or organic eggs are best. Make sure your eggs are at room temperature for this recipe. That will ensure that the cake rises evenly. See my note below on how to bring eggs to room temperature quickly.
Light Olive Oil: this is what gives the cake its moist texture. Light olive oil has a very neutral flavor which is why I like using it for cakes. However, you can use any other neutral tasting liquid oil you like, such as grape seed oil, avocado oil, liquid refined coconut oil or vegetable oil.
All-Purpose Flour: use fresh, unbleached all-purpose flour for best results. I like King Arthur’s unbleached all-purpose flour.
Almond Flour: I like to add some nut flour to cakes whenever I can - to make them a little healthier and enhance the flavor and texture. If you don’t want to use almond flour, replace it with equal part of all-purpose flour.
Vanilla: use real vanilla extract. I buy mine at Costco.
Cinnamon: it complements rhubarb very well.
Baking Powder & Baking Soda: to help the cake rise.
Equipment used in this recipe
How to make healthy rhubarb cake
Step 1: Beat together eggs and sugar. You can use a standup mixer such as KitchenAid or a hand mixer. Beat on high speed until thick, light in color and stiff, 8-10 minutes.
Step 2: Add oil & vanilla. Don’t stop the mixer while you’re pouring in the oil in a slow stream.
Step 3: Sift all dry ingredients. Using a sieve or flour sifter, sift all purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon into a bowl and mix well with a spoon. Almond flour might get a little clumpy – just use a spoon and press any clumps into the sieve to sift it through.
Step 4: Add all dry ingredients. Now that your flours and rising agents are sifted and mixed, you can add them to the beaten eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla. Do this in 3 equal parts and beat on the lowest speed until just incorporated after each addition.
Step 5: Assemble the cake. Pour the batter into a 9-inch spring form lined with parchment paper (only the bottom). Place the sliced rhubarb on top and push gently with a spoon to distribute evenly throughout the cake. It will look like too much rhubarb – that's perfectly fine.
Step 6: Bake for 50-60 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Don’t open the oven before the 50-minute mark or the cake may not rise properly.
Step 7: Let cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Place the spring form on a cooling rack and let it cool for about 15 minutes. Run a spatula or a knife around cake edges to loosen from pan. Cool until room temperature or slightly warm and dust with powdered sugar.
Can I make this cake with frozen rhubarb?
If you have an abundance of rhubarb in your garden, don't let it go to waste but freeze it for future use instead. To do so, clean the rhubarb, cut off the ends and leaves, slice into chunks, place in a zip lock bag or an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
To use in this cake, take the bag out, place the frozen rhubarb on a sieve or colander over the sink or in a bowl and let it sit until it thaws completely. I recommend using the colander method to drain any excessive juice. Once thawed and drained, use it in the same way as fresh rhubarb following the directions in the recipe card below.
Storage and freezing tips
Rhubarb sponge cake can be kept out at room temperature for 36 hours or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To refrigerate, place it in an airtight container or wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.
To freeze, double wrap the cake in plastic wrap, place in an airtight container (or aluminum foil) and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw on the counter until it reaches room temperature.
Looking for more summer dessert ideas? Try this delicious Strawberry Apple Crisp.
Can I use fruit instead of rhubarb?
Yes! You can either replace rhubarb with other fruit, or use a mix of rhubarb and something else, for example strawberries. Fruit that will work in this cake include:
- berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
- stone fruit (pitted cherries, apricots or peaches cut into chunks)
- thinly sliced apples or pears
Other healthy desserts
- Banana Strawberry Oat Muffins
- Chickpea Blondies with Dark Chocolate Chips
- Healthy Banana Bread with Oats
- Flourless Banana Peanut Butter Cookies
- One Bowl Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins
If you try this Easy Rhubarb Cake, be sure to leave me a comment and give this recipe a rating. I would love to hear from you and see how it turned out for you! You can also share and tag me on Instagram!
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Healthy Rhubarb Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line the bottom of a spring form with parchment paper.
- Sift both flowers, baking powder, soda and cinnamon into a medium bowl. Mix well with a spoon.
- In a bowl of a standup mixer beat together eggs and coconut sugar on high until pale and fluffy, about 10 minutes. You can also use a hand mixer to beat the eggs and sugar.
- In the meantime, cut the rhubarb into ¼- ½ inch slices. Set aside.
- Pour the oil in the eggs and sugar mixture very slowly while the mixer is beating. Add vanilla extract.
- With the mixer on low speed add the sifted dry ingredients in 3 equal parts until just incorporated. It’s important not to overmix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared lined spring form. Add the rhubarb slices on top of the batter and gently push down with a spoon so the rhubarb is evenly distributed. It will look like a lot of rhubarb – that’s how it’s supposed to be.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes in preheated oven or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Let cool on a rack for about 15 minutes, then loosen the edges with a knife or thin spatula and open the spring form. Using a small sieve dust powdered sugar on top.