Rhubarb lovers will go nuts for these Fresh Rhubarb Upside-Down Baby Cakes. Raid your rhubarb patch and bake up these rich, buttery gems!

These individual servings of a seasonal Rhubarb Cake are a fun spring dessert that you don’t have to share!

Fresh Rhubarb Upside-down Baby Cakes on a white ceramic tray

Why You’ll Love this Upside Down Cake

  • The recipe makes just 8 babycakes (or 4 if you cut the recipe in half)!
  • Everyone loves their own mini dessert.
  • It’s perfect for the first of your spring rhubarb!
  • The rhubarb is baked along with dark brown sugar, pecans, and butter!! You can’t beat this combo that becomes the caramel topping.

April was such a rainy month, I didn’t expect to find anything in our garden beside puddles. But, lo and behold, there was rhubarb! My little patch did not offer up enough for these Fresh Rhubarb Upside-Down Cakes, but instead, was a sure signal that winter was finally over. I found some in the market instead…the timing was perfect.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Baby Cakes?

Baby Cakes (or babycakes) are just small, single-serving cakes. Cupcakes are baby cakes.

What Kind of Pans are Used to Make Baby Cakes?

To make baby cakes, you can use a cupcake tin, ramekins, custard or creme brulee dishes. Use your recipe as a guide. This Dorie Greenspan recipe specified baby cake pans with 4-inch diameters.

How Do You Know When Rhubarb is Ripe?

When shopping for rhubarb, look for crisp bright cherry red stalks and green leaves. If the leaves are wilted and the stems are blemished, they may have passed their prime and the quality may be affected.

A single rhubarb baby cake on a square white plate

How to Make this Rhubarb Dessert

The recipe wasn’t difficult; it just involved a number of steps.

  1. First up was making the caramel topping by melting brown sugar and butter with a touch of brandy.
  2. This was divided between my pans with a sprinkling of chopped pecans.
  3. Next, sliced rhubarb was arranged over the caramel…and then an utterly wonderful butter cake batter was spread atop the fruit.
  4. The batter took a bit of care to make. The butter and sugar had an extended creaming time, then after the eggs were added, the creme fraiche and dry ingredients were alternately added with a light hand. This technique prevents the structure created by the sugar, butter, and eggs from breaking down according to recipe creator, Johanne Killeen.
  5. I don’t own baby cake pans per se, but I used some Le Creuset flan Dishes for my miniature upside-down cakes, and they released perfectly with a nice spray of Bakers Joy.

This was one terrific spring rhubarb dessert. The hubby won’t eat rhubarb or pecans, so I didn’t alter it at all. I planned to take it to the friends I’d be volunteering with over the weekend along with a handful of forks. But first, I dug into one myself. The cake was moist and tender, and shallow enough that the caramel infused its way into the top half…mmmmmm.

The rhubarb was sweetened by the boozed-up caramel, plus the crunch of the pecans gave a nice contrast in texture. I grew up with a big rhubarb patch in my backyard…and have to make at least one rhubarb treat each spring. And this one is worth repeating next year!

Tips for Making Rhubarb Baby Cakes

  • Vary the fruit according to what’s in season. Try using mangoes, apples or pears, apricots, plums, or bananas, and vary the liqueur or flavoring to match the fruit.
  • If the urge to bake these lovely cakes strikes and you haven’t a set of baby cake pans at hand, make these in muffin tins or custard cups, or make the recipe as one large cake.
  • The batter is perfect for an eleven or twelve-inch cast-iron skillet or a twelve-inch round cake pan. It will also make an impressive statement! Bake for 45-50 minutes and make sure to test for doneness with a toothpick.
  • It’s simple to cut this recipe in half and make only 4 babycakes.
  • The cakes can be kept wrapped in plastic at room temperature overnight.
  • Serve with sweetened whipped cream, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or even a simple sprinkle of powdered sugar just before serving.
  • I used cute Le Creuset shallow, scalloped baking dishes to make my cakes, but I won’t even link to them as they’re now $30+ dollars EACH!

Ingredients for rhubarb baby cakes

Ingredient Notes

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder – Make sure to check the expiration date. If you’re unsure, add a spoonful to a bowl of hot water. If fresh (active) it will bubble vigorously.
  • Salt – preferably kosher or fine sea salt, though I use table salt, too.
  • Vanilla Extract – Never use artificial vanilla. There is no substitution for real vanilla extract.
  • Crème Fraîche – May substitute sour cream.
  • Butter – I use salted butter. Bring it out of the refrigerator at least an hour before you start mixing to bring it to room temperature.
  • Dark Brown Sugar – If you only have regular brown sugar, add 1 1/2 teaspoons molasses to 1/2 cup brown sugar and mix well until the molasses is well dispersed.
  • Bourbon – Alcohol is a flavor enhancer and most will evaporate during the cooking process.
  • Pecans – Toast first by warming the nuts in a frying pan, shaking frequently, until you smell a nutty aroma. This enhances their flavor by releasing their essential oils.
  • Rhubarb – Use fresh rhubarb. Frozen will be too juicy.
  • Sugar – Regular granulated white sugar works best.
  • Eggs – Large eggs. Bring them to room temperature by pulling them out of the refrigerator early or putting them in a bowl of very warm (not boiling) water. This allows them to incorporate more easily into the batter.

More Spring and Summer Desserts:

Overhead view of a rhubarb baby cake on a square white plate

Fresh Rhubarb Upside-down Baby Cakes Recipe

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Yield 8

Single serving upside-down cakes topped with rhubarb and pecans in a caramel sauce. Adapted from Baking with Julia.

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (double if using unsalted butter)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crème fraîche (or sour cream)
  • 3/4 butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans (toast first for best flavor)
  • 6 or 7 stalks (12 ounces) fresh rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature

Instructions

      1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray 8 mini- or baby cake pans, each 4 inches across and 1 inch deep, with a light coating of non-stick baking spray.

      2. Whisk or stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together just to blend; reserve. In a separate bowl, stir the vanilla into the crème fraîche and set aside until needed.

      3. Melt the 1/2 stick of butter in a heavy skillet. Add the brown sugar and bourbon and cook over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the sugar melts.

      4. Stir in the pecans to coat with caramel and turn off the heat. Divide the caramel evenly among the pans, working quickly to get it to the edges of the pans before it sets (cooked sugar cools rapidly). Arrange the rhubarb in circles over the sugar, and set aside while you make the batter.

      5. Put the remaining stick of butter and the granulated sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or use a hand-held mixer, and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

      6. The butter and sugar must be beaten until they are light, fluffy, and pale, so don’t rush it – the process can take 3 to 4 minutes with a heavy-duty mixer and 6 to 8 minutes with a hand-held mixer.

      7. Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

      8. Working with a rubber spatula, carefully fold in the dry ingredients and the crème fraîche alternately – 3 additions of dry ingredients, 2 of crème fraîche. You’ll end up with a thick batter.

      9. Spoon the batter over the rhubarb and smooth the tops with an offset spatula. Put the pans on a jelly-roll pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. (Test a couple of the cakes to be certain.)

      10. As soon as the cakes are removed from the over, turn them out of their pans onto a rack.

Notes

Baby cake pans are 4-inches in diameter. This cake can also be made in one large cake pan.

This recipe easily divides in half if you'd rather make 4 instead of 8 babycakes.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1 baby cake

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 390Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 554mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 2gSugar: 27gProtein: 6g

Thatskinnychickcanbake.com occasionally offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although thatskinnychickcanbake.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe. Also, many recipes on thatskinnychickcanbake.com recommend toppings, which may or may not be listed as optional and nutritional information for these added toppings is not listed. Other factors may change the nutritional information such as when the salt amount is listed “to taste,” it is not calculated into the recipe as the amount will vary. Also, different online calculators can provide different results. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information obtained is accurate.

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Fresh Rhubarb Upside-down Baby Cakes on a white dessert plate with a red handled fork
Photo from the original post, May 2013.