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Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

This cake has a crumb "topping" that actually ends up on the bottom. Each bite has a surprisingly crunchy texture.

  • Servings: 10
  • Yield: Makes one 9-inch cake
Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 2010


For the Topping

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Coarse salt

For the Cake

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for buttering pan
  • 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut on a very sharp diagonal about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the topping: Stir together butter, flour, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until moist and crumbly.

  2. Make the cake: Butter a 9-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep). Dot with 4 tablespoons butter (cut into pieces). Toss rhubarb with 3/4 cup sugar; let stand for 2 minutes. Toss again, and spread in pan.

  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Beat remaining stick butter and cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in zest and juice. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, until smooth. Spread evenly over rhubarb. Crumble topping evenly over batter.

  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and top springs back when touched, about 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake, and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.


On "Martha Bakes," Martha doubled the amount of crumb topping and used 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice instead of orange zest and juice in the cake.

Cook's Note

Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. The rhubarb will be too hot to handle safely right after baking. But if the cake sits much longer, it may stick.

Reviews (22)

  • srnhrrs 29 May, 2014

    Use a 9" springform pan! I would have never gotten my cake to invert out of the pan if I hadn't. Also, the larger capacity of a springform pan is better suited to this cake.

  • Katies Passion Kitchen 5 May, 2014

    Excellent recipe. Cake turned out beautifully. I plan to bake a few more before the rhubarb season ends. May try with a bit less sugar tossed with the rhubarb (?). The crumb "crust" on the bottom stayed crunchy, crisp and buttery. The fruit top was sweet and moist and the middle of the cake had a dense and moist texture. I used about 5 large rhubarb stalks, weighing in at 1 lb. after being trimmed and cut. It was exactly the right amount for the 9" pan (in case you're winging it without a scale)

  • RebaZ 7 Jun, 2013

    This cake was a hit in our house! Like others, I replaced the orange juice with lemon juice and omitted the zest. I used more rhubard than I probably should have, so it needed to cook an extra ten minutes. Came out perfect! One other thing I tweaked was to add about a Tbs of cherry jello to the rhubard/sugar to get a nice pink color. My rhubard is mostly green and this did the trick. Perfect presentation.

    Yes, the cake is heavy. Don't be surprised. It has a hint of cheesecake flavor to me.

  • Jurate M 1 Jun, 2013

    I love rhubarb and all kinds of dishes from them. I have baked this fantastic cake and I'm really happy - my choice was excellent! This is a very special seasonal and surely piquant cake. Thank you, Martha, very much, my "Rhubarb pies collection" already has one more wonderful recipe!!! :)

  • Cindy Pumphrey 29 Apr, 2013

    This is one of my all time favorite recipes, I make it every year, sometimes more than once during rhubarb season. I usually make it in a larger square pan as it makes a lot and I usually use more rhubarb and cut it in thick chunks, great with fresh whipped cream, yum!

  • beawebb 24 Mar, 2013

    I love this cake - it is moist, sweet, sour, crunchy and totally delicious. My family loves it too.

  • Dori2 12 Aug, 2012

    Very disappointed with this recipe. The cake turned out heavy and dense - almost like a cheese cake. There was too much batter for the recommended size of the pan. Not what I was expecting.

  • murphykami 12 Jun, 2012

    great!! i did it according the recepy and bake it in ceramic dish and it is great. I especially like the way how the rhubarb is cut. I t was not sure to me where to put the topping but after seeing the viedo it was clear.

  • AnjaH 22 May, 2012

    Delicious! Had to make several substitutions.
    1. left out zest
    2. instead of orange juice_added 1TBSP lemon juice (Real Lemon brand)
    3. instead of sour cream= 7/8 cup milk, 1TBSP lemon juice, 3TBSP butter
    used a 9x9x1.5 inch square brownie pan
    also I peeled my rhubarb, so my cake was light chartreuse not pink (next time I'll leave the skins on)
    1 hour was perfect!
    I will make it again!

  • LongtimeMarthaFan 14 May, 2012

    This recipie did not work for me. the cake was way to heavy. not sure what went wrong. it was disappointing because it looked beautiful but did not deliver.

  • Springform 5 May, 2012

    I was determined to thoroughly explore the possibilities of rhubarb this season and making this cake was the best way to start. Actually, I'm not sure I'll top this, it was that good.
    The only substitution I made was replacing the orange zest and juice with meyer lemon since I have 2 trees in my yard covered in them. I will be making it this way forever, no exceptions.
    The cake part came out perfectly moist and smooth at the recommended hour cooking time. 2 thumbs up, hands down.

  • glgh 8 May, 2011

    I made this for a Mother's Day Brunch and it was a MAJOR hit. It is sweet, salty, savory and fruity all at the same time. I had less rhubarb and reduced the amount of sugar by about half.

  • PenelopeRB 24 Apr, 2011

    Delicious! The primary rhubarb fan has a birthday in rhubarb season and this was his birthday cake last year. Very good.

  • MairiEvelyn 2 Aug, 2010

    I tried this cake twice. The first time I just added a pinch of the salt in both cases; the second time I followed the recipe, A DISASTER!. A pinch is more than enough. Otherwise , easy and very tasty..

    Evelyn Matheis

  • Romanowl 1 Aug, 2010

    This is a fantastic recipe, especially if you are a rhubarb lover! My rhubarb was on the green side, so the red color did not "pop" like in the picture. Highly recommend this recipe!

  • Romanowl 1 Aug, 2010

    This is a fantastic recipe, especially if you are a rhubarb lover! My rhubarb was on the green side, so the red color did not "pop" like in the picture. Highly recommend this recipe!

  • bjl63 6 May, 2010

    I love LouLou's very honest comment, and heartily agree - any recipe calling for rhubarb is better if it's made with something else! :-D Think how much tastier and prettier this would be if made with, say, sliced nectarines, or even sour cherries. . . mmmmm!

  • ibcrafter 5 May, 2010

    The taste was good, but sugars in recipe were overwhelming. Next time I would use Bisquick Velvet Crumb cake recipe with a sprinkling of sanding sugar. Or, the Bisquick shortcake recipe would be good on top of rhubarb with a garnish of Cool Whip or creme fraiche. Our stores do not have creme fraiche, so I make my own with one cup whipping cream and tbl. buttermilk. You can sweeten and add vanilla if you wish. Let sit on countertop overnight.

  • emilysophie 3 May, 2010

    This was REALLY delicious, I didn't have sour cream so I used Greek Yogurt and a little buttermilk and it was very moist and amazing. I'll pick up some farmer's market rhubarb and freeze some so I can make it later in the summer.

  • JoannaHogan 1 May, 2010

    Red food cloring drizzled over the rhubarb fixes the color if you don't have really "red" rhubarb. I did recipe exact except for about three times the orange zest and was very good. I didn't have a round, deep cake pan so I used a spring form. The juices leaked out into the oven with terriible resulting smoke; surprised the FD didn't show up. If you use a spring form cover with parchment, including the sides before locking the pan. It will create a tighter seal preventing a leak.

  • AnniePhillips 30 Apr, 2010

    I made this cake and thought it was very good. I grow my own rhubarb so I know it is fresh and great tasting.

  • loulou47 30 Apr, 2010

    problems with this cake i made today....10 mins too long to wait to turn out cake...rhubarb had little taste, had no color like pretty photo and did not come out of pan in one piece....crunchy base better if less floury tasting...cake time use less flour for crumb and use different fruit.,

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