Recipe: Rhubarb and Ginger Upside-Down Cake

We’ve got a fruit patch in our garden, some years we have more fruit than we can cope with, but other years are a bit of a let down. Last autumn we planted some rhubarb. Rhubarb was always growing in my childhood garden and we used to frequently eat this sour fruit in crumbles or stewed with ice cream. I had different plans for our first crop, I wanted to make a Rhubarb and Ginger Upside-Down Cake.

Upside-Down cake is so wonderfully retro. It’s usually made with pineapple, but I thought some lightly poached rhubarb stalks would look lovely, flavoured up with stem ginger and orange it was a real tea time treat. I suspect this will be our new go-to recipe for our homegrown rhubarb, it somehow feels like a waste to just turn it into a crumble.

Recipe: Rhubarb and Ginger Upside-Down Cake

Rhubarb and Ginger Upside-Down Cake


For the poached rhubarb layer –
Rhubarb, 5 or 6 stems cut into lengths
50g sugar
200mls of orange juice
1 piece of stem ginger, finely diced
1 dessert spoon of stem ginger syrup

50g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar

For the cake batter –
150g butter or baking margarine
150g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of baking powder
150g self raising flour
2 tablespoons of the poaching syrup from the poached rhubarb, cooled

I baked my upside-down cake in a 20cm square tin, I thought the rhubarb would look better laid out in the square tin, but use what you have.

To begin with I cut my rhubarb into lengths which would fit the tin, I knew I would use any smaller lengths to fill in any gaps and I had almost exactly the right amount for my tin.

In a saute pan, put in the orange juice, rhubarb, stem ginger and syrup and 50g of sugar. Lightly poach the rhubarb over a gentle heat. You want the stems to be softening but not floppy or collapsed. Once cooked, remove them from the pan and leave them to cool a little. Turn the heat up in the pan and reduce the liquid by around half so it turns into a rhubarb, orange and ginger syrup.

Recipe: Rhubarb and Ginger Upside-Down Cake

While your rhubarb is cooling a little, cut out a piece of baking parchment to fit the bottom of your baking tin. Grease the tin and put the parchment in the bottom.

Beat 50g of unsalted butter and 50g of sugar together and spread that on top of the baking parchment, this will add more delicious flavour to your rhubarb topping.

Carefully arrange your rhubarb in the bottom of your baking tin. I decided to do lengths of colourful rhubarb, but you can arrange yours in whatever pretty pattern you like. Remember that when you turn your cake out, the bottom will be the top, so making it pretty is worth a few minutes of your time.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°.

Once your rhubarb is in position, make your cake batter. Beat your butter or baking margarine together until fluffy, add the eggs, baking powder and vanilla extract and combine. Finally, carefully mix in the flour and add two tablespoons of the rhubarb syrup leftover from the poaching earlier and mix well.

Pour your cake batter over the rhubarb and smooth it off. Bake in your pre-heated oven for 35 minutes. Once baked I like to leave the cake in the cooling oven for 10 minutes or so with the door slightly open.

Once baked, leave the cake to cool in the tin for 5 minutes or so and then carefully turn it out. My cake came out after a couple of seconds upside down on the board. The baking parchment I’d put it on made sure all the fruit came out in one layer.

It’s best served warm with ice cream or custard, but it’s still delicious cold.

Recipe: Rhubarb and Ginger Upside-Down Cake

Given how love/hate rhubarb can be; both my 8 year old nephew and my 7 year old son loved it and both asked for seconds. It’s such a simple cake and it looked so pretty with its pink and green stripes. It’s a subtly beautiful cake and one which I’m going to bake over and over again. I just need my rhubarb plant to up its game a bit.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like my lemon and ginger drizzle cake.

Recipe: Rhubarb and Ginger Upside-Down Cake