The Fresh Loaf

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Rhubarb Custard Cake

Benito's picture

Rhubarb Custard Cake


This is an interesting cake, as it isn’t particularly cakey, instead it bakes up to be a firmish custard that is sliceable and made all the more tasty with a scoop of ice cream.  I’ve posted a fair number of rhubarb desserts here not only because I love tangy desserts but also because I’m lucky enough to have a close friend who has a large rhubarb patch and FedEx me rhubarb each year for the past couple of years.  So of course when we have them over I have to make a rhubarb dessert.  I didn’t have the time to make pie pastry so thought I’d try this Bon Appetite recipe instead.

Now my rhubarb is frozen and was sliced to 1.5-2” lengths.  This recipe calls for much longer lengths but this worked out none the less.  I allowed my rhubarb to defrost in the fridge overnight and because the rhubarb needs to stay at the top of the cake, I discarded the rhubarb water that came off the defrosted rhubarb but didn’t squeeze the rhubarb to remove anymore.


8 servings

For 9” springform pan

4 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter, cooled, plus more room-temperature for pan

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

¾ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. kosher salt

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1½ cups sugar, plus more for sprinkling

¼ cup sour cream

2 Tbsp. dark rum

2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

13 oz. rhubarb stalks, halved lengthwise if thick


Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour pan. Whisk baking powder, salt, and 1 cup all-purpose flour in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, egg yolk, and 1½ cups sugar in a large bowl until very pale and thick, about 1 minute. Whisk melted butter, sour cream, rum, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Whisk butter mixture into egg mixture just to combine. Add dry ingredients and fold in until batter is smooth; scrape into prepared pan. Chill 10 minutes to let batter set.

Step 2

Arrange rhubarb over batter however you like, trimming as needed. Don’t press fruit into batter—just place over top and let it rest on the surface. Sprinkle with more sugar and bake until cake is golden on top and browned around the sides, 45–55 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan 10 minutes. Slide a knife around sides of cake to loosen and unmold. Slide directly onto rack and let cool completely.


Do Ahead: Cake can be baked 1 day ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.


pmccool's picture

One of my favorite pies is a rhubarb custard pie, so this cake sounds especially appealing.  And it is a pretty as can be, too!  Well done, benito.


Benito's picture

Thank you Paul for your kind words.  It is a yummy cake if you love the tartness of rhubarb which I do.  I actually reduced the sugar for the batter and would reduce it further the next time I bake it.  Also I would bake a bit longer than the original recipe says.


HeiHei29er's picture

Sounds delicious Benny.  I've had strawberry rhubarb pie, but don't think I've had anything like this before.  Not sure what a custard would be like...  Similar to a cheese cake maybe?

Benito's picture

Thank you Troy, it is tangy yet sweet.  The texture is a bit unusual, not quite a cheesecake and not quite a cake.  The instructions say to allow it to cool and then depan letting it cool fully on a rack, there is not way that this could have cooled on a rack.  When I try this again, I will bake longer to firm it up a bit more.

gavinc's picture

Really good. We grow rhubarb in our back yard and love it. Green and red varieties. I must make this recipe as it look delicious.


Benito's picture

Gavin, if you like rhubarb give this a go, it is much quicker and easier than a rhubarb pie and the rhubarb flavour really stands out.


naturaleigh's picture

This looks like a piece of modern art, Benny!  The best part is it is edible (art) and, I'm sure, was delicious.  I've got a dark cherry/hazelnut recipe that is pretty similar that uses some hazelnut flour.  Your recipe, with the rum and lemon zest, sounds delightful...might have to incorporate some booze into that hazelnut cake as I'm sure it would be an improvement. I have bookmarked this so I can give it a try when rhubarb appears at the farmers market again (next year).  Lucky man to have such a good friend to Fed Ex you edible treasures! 

What a great recipe to post during this time of year...something a little lighter and more spring-like.

Benito's picture

Thank you Leigh, I think it would be even prettier with longer pieces of rhubarb, but of course when I processed the rhubarb for freezing I cut them the size I would use in a pie.  Either way, it is a tasty tangy treat which I admit I had for breakfast this morning, just don’t tell my patients.


happycat's picture

Rhubarb is a vegetable so it's a healthy choice for breakfast, right? Great looking top pattern.

You've made me nostalgic for rhubarb. Haven't had it in ages. I think the last thing I had was some kind of upside-down cake someone made, but I'd love to make a pie with it some time. I think I've come to appreciate sour, bitter and acidic flavours more with age and have started adding lemon juice to sauces.

Benito's picture

Time to make something with rhubarb David.  I’ve always enjoyed sour and as I get older really have bought into the balance of sweet, sour and salty in food.