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Rhubarb Upside Down Brown Sugar Cake | A seasonal French cake featuring rhubarb

Rhubarb Upside Down Brown Sugar Cake

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I’m jumping in a little late with this deliciously seasonal Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake shared by my Tuesdays with Dorie friends earlier this week. As the FFwD group concludes our journey, we continue to reflect on our years of cooking from Around My French Table and a Dorie recipe seemed apropos.

Rhubarb Upside Down Brown Sugar Cake- A seasonal French cake featuring rhubarb

Lessons from Cookbook Author, Dorie Greenspan

Today’s challenge was to share an “aha” moment and our top 5 recipes. I’m not certain I have one particular moment, but instead, some more lessons learned.

  • French cooking does not necessarily mean complicated. A simple layering of flavors can produce a masterpiece.
  • A reminder to cook seasonally. Dorie’s rhubarb cake is the perfect example as was her Roasted Rhubarb we cooked up for FFwD in 2011.
  • And, once again, use the best ingredients. You may need to reinvent your planned recipe when you see what’s available at the market.


Rhubarb Upside Down Brown Sugar Cake - A seasonal French cake featuring rhubarb

Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake

The French know how to make a presentation. Think of a Tarte Tatin. Like this rhubarb upside-down cake, it’s flipped to serve and who isn’t awed by those slices of sugar-glazed apples over pastry? Dorie had us whip up an orange zest and vanilla flavored sponge cake and pour it over caramelized rhubarb.

I baked half a batch (you know who doesn’t do rhubarb) in two 5-inch diameter spring-form pans. They needed more time than the 25 minutes called for in the full recipe, so beware if you intend to try this recipe. Served with sweetened cream and berries, I got my fix of rhubarb without any competition! This recipe can be found on page 24 of Baking Chez Moi. On occasion, Dorie shares some of these recipes on her blog, but this one is not available on-line as of yet.

Rhubarb Upside Down Brown Sugar Cake - A seasonal French cake featuring rhubarb

My Top 5 French Fridays with Dorie Recipes

There are SO many recipes I loved—these are just a few unforgettable favorites:

Salmon Tartare | An exquisite Dorie Greenspan recipe featuring avocados, raw salmon and tomatoes

Salmon Tartare

Tuna and Mango Ceviche

Tuna and Mango Ceviche (are you seeing a trend???)

Garbure | an outrageously delicious peasant stew from Dorie Greenspan

Garbure (peasant stew with loads of flavor)


Dilled Gravlax

French Gruyere Souffle - a dreamy cheese souffle flavored with French Swiss cheese, nutmeg and a pinch of cayenne

Cheese Soufflรฉ

Honorable mentions go to Scallops with Caramel Orange Sauce, Shrimp Filled Zucchini Blossoms, Salade Nicoise and Tuna Confit with Black Olive Tapenade and Tomato Salsa. Yeah, where are the desserts, the raspberries??? I loved that this group gave me the excuse to explore some recipes and techniques that I’d typically skip due to the picky palates that surround me. So it was often the seafood, especially the rare or raw seafood, that left the most indelible impressions. Thank you, Dorie!!

Rhubarb Upside Down Brown Sugar Cake - glistening rhubarb atop a tender cake

Rhubarb Upside Down Brown Sugar Cake

A twist on the upside down cake utilizing fresh spring rhubarb.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Yield 8


Rhubarb Topping:

  • 1 1/4-1 1/2 cups rhubarb, trimmed and rinsed (peel if stems are tough)
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided (1/4 cup to caramelize)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • Zest of one orange, finely grated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted


  • Leftover rhubarb syrup
  • Strawberry jam


  • 2 cups of strawberries, leaves and hulls removed, then cut in half
  • 8 ounces creme fraiche


Cut the stalks into 1 inch lengths and toss them with ½ cup sugar and set aside for 30 minutes.

Drain the rhubarb and reserve the syrup to make the glaze.

Butter a 9 inch round cake pan with sides at least 1½ high. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat then stir in the sugar. When the sugar has melted and is JUST changing color add the rhubarb. Stir sparingly for about 3 minutes or until the sugar is slightly caramelized. Scrape the rhubarb and syrup into the cake pan and leave to cool.

To make the cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees .

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs and brown sugar together until thick and smooth. Whisk in the zest and vanilla.Pour in the butter in 3 additions. Whisk well.

Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions whisking gently.

Scrape the batter into the pan over the rhubarb and put the pan onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake the cake for about 25 minutes, rotating it after 12 minutes. My small version took more than 25 minutes.


Bake until it is golden brown, springy to the touch and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer to serving plate.

To make the glaze, bring the reserved rhubarb syrup to a boil then reduce to a simmer until it reduces and becomes syrupy. Add a few spoonfuls of strawberry jam and stir well. Gently spoon the glaze over the top of the cake.

To serve the cake, add strawberries to the cake plate, dollop with Crème Fraiche and serve.


I made a half batch in 5-inch springform pans. They took longer than 25 minutes to fully cook.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 419Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 180mgCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 2gSugar: 46gProtein: 5g


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51 comments on “Rhubarb Upside Down Brown Sugar Cake”

  1. I love an upside down cake but this is the first one I’ve ever seen with rhubarb. So pretty!

  2. You know, I STILL have yet to try this wonderful rhubarb. I do know that I love upside-down cakes a bunch, though–I just saved this, thanks for the great share!

  3. awesome, simply damn delicious tangy upside down rhubarb cake!!!

  4. This cake sounds great! Mine wouldn’t be as pretty using green rhubarb, but still tasty I’m sure:@)

  5. Yummy! I would have it with some vanilla ice cream..

  6. I was kind of hoping you ‘d have Bill give us HIS top 5 recipes…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Liz, it’s so interesting to hear of your aha moments and your favourite (all savoury!) recipes. Yes, agree with Mardi would be fun to hear of Bill’s faves. Must be so hard to choose from such a wealth of delicious recipes. This rhubarb tatin cake looks so tempting – what a glistening photo of it!

  8. Oh boy… you know you have slacked off on French Fridays – and general blogging – when you see a top 5 list of AMFT recipes you haven’t MADE. Gorgeous job with the rhubarb USD cake. Makes me jealous about only getting frozen rhubarb around these parts.

  9. Oh Liz!!! I love this rhubarb upside down cake! The rhubarb is stunning!!! Beautiful!

  10. Taking this trip down (culinary) memory lane is fascinating. it’s wonderful to see what everyone has chosen as favorite recipes and how different the choices are. I couldn’t possibly make a list, but I love that you’ve got so much fish on yours – hooray! And your rhubarb cake looks gorgeous! xodorie

  11. Wow – all of these recipes look so delicious! My rhubarb is ready, the dill is growing, and the tuna and mango ceviche has my mouth watering. So glad I checked out this post before my grocery shopping trip today :)!!!

  12. So many gorgeous photos!!

  13. Your rhubarb cake looks so pretty; I’m glad you were able to get your rhubarb fix.
    I’m not a member of FFwD but have cooked from the book and followed the members’ adventures. Your top 5 favourites look fabulous!

  14. I’ve never seen an upside down cake with rhubarb either. Looks so good!

  15. I think I’m going to have to put my computer down until after dinner. Looking at all these gorgeous meals I’m just getting hungrier and hungrier and dinner is still hours away! So much fun, though, to see how different our choices have been so far. Though, having said that, any of the ones you picked could have landed on my list as well.

  16. I love that line about French cooking…all because it’s French doesn’t mean it’s complicated. You have proven exactly that Lizzy ๐Ÿ™‚

    I can’t seem to find rhubarb any place yet which bums me out because I have been wanting to try it for years now. Mom and I are going to have to plan a weekend trip to the farmer’s markets out East this summer.

    Your cake looks so good and so perfect! ๐Ÿ˜€


  17. I have never baked an upside down cake with rhubarb. Your cake looks scrumptious, Liz.

  18. Oh my that cheese souffle was amazing… don’t just want to keep changing your top five after you read a post… this is maddening, but fun!

  19. It is such fun to see everyone’s favorites and top contenders. You have a way of making everything look absolutely delicious and wonderful. I am waiting eagerly for Bill’s Top 5 List! Your rhubarb cake looks wonderful. I am loving all the rhubarb that is coming in my CSA basket this spring

  20. Liz, I think I may have to update my list after reading your post! I loved the Gravlax and the Cheese Souffleโ€ฆboth winners in my house! Great post and gorgeous photos, as always! Happy Friday!

  21. Choosing these recipes is harder than cooking them. You made some great selections and looking back now, I’m sorry I did not choose some of them too. I love your rhubarb cake, it turned out

  22. All recipes looks mouthwatering but I love rhubarb and this cake takes … the cake! I almost passed out though when I saw how much it was being sold for last week.

  23. Beautiful! All of it is beautiful. Isn’t that Rhubarb Cake wonderful?!

  24. It’s been a terrific series and it’s a shame it’s coming to an end. It’s true the French are excellent with presentation and this rhubarb upside down cake is no exception. It looks so pretty xx

  25. Okay, you just made me hungry again!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Have a great weekend, Liz. ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Beautiful photos as always! Love the lessons learned. I will keep those in mind for the future. ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. The rhubarb has just come up in my garden. I’ll have to try this upside down cake. I love your Top 5 and honorable mentions. As I predicted, now I’m wanting to remake so many recipes in the book. So many choices!

  28. Your cake looks gorgeous. I can see a fishy theme in your favourites. My theme was meat and fruit.

  29. That rhubarb upside down cake would be number one for me!

  30. I can sure see why you selected the recipes you did, Liz, they are my favourites too! I lick my lips as I scrolled through and saw the salmon tartar, tuna ceviche and the gravlax, totally my cup of tea, so to speak.
    Your cake reminds me a little of the rice cooker cake I recently posted about, great minds…

  31. I love rhubarb and this cake is just stunning! You’ve outdone yourself once again, Liz.

  32. Hi Liz, your presentation is absolutely gorgeous, love rhubarb. Have a great week-end!

  33. Glad you were able to make that rhubarb cake, it was delicious. Nice list, very different from mine. Our palates are very different as I don’t eat rare or raw fish. I would fit in with your picky crowd:) See you next week.

  34. A great round up of favorites! I’d love to see Bill’s list too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Count me in for wanting to see Bill’s list! You were much more disciplined than I was in choosing your favourites and reading everyone’s posts only wants me to make my own list longer. The souffle especially brings back great memories, as I presented it to a table full of family when I made it.

  36. Still a bit sidetracked by your rhubarb upside down cake. It looks amazing (and the roasted rhubarb made my short list!). I love your choices! Very interesting. I did pause at my photos of the cheese souffle. I think one of the really fun things about this assignment is that we get to see what others choose! Very cool!!

  37. This cake is stunning Liz! So creative, I’ve never seen an upside down cake with rhubabrb before and love this idea! So so beautiful!

  38. Awh YEAH, Liz…. This rhubarb upside down cake looks phenom. Rhubarb is delicious and super cheap too. I always leave your site feeling hungry, heading to the fridge now to see what I can whip up. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you’ve had a good weekend. xo

  39. Liz, what a beautiful rhubarb dessert! We just love rhubarb! I’ve been giving a lot of mine away this year since I can’t possibly use it all. Love the photos that you’re sharing of your new little puppy — so precious! Hope you’re having a great Sunday!

  40. By the time I reached the end of your list, Liz, I had figured out what you were doing —- choosing all those delicious meals that aren’t family friendly with yours. At least you could have thrown a few raspberries into the mix to remind us that this really is the Skinny Chick’s blog. The dilled gravlax is one of my favorites also. I was so proud of myself when we made that recipe. My favorite Skinny Chick recipes are the White Chocolate Monster Munch and your Kahlua Bundt Cake. What can I say? I am a shallow person.

  41. I loved this rhubarb cake, and you’re little one looks just lovely (and you had such red rhubarb!). I’ll have to try out some your FFwd faves (hello cheese soufflรฉ!)..I haven’t made nearly enough from that book.

  42. What a beautiful upside down cake, I love rhubarb especially at this time of the year! What a great collection of recipes and what fab new skills you must have learnt along this great foodie adventure!

  43. WOW I must have missed your cheese souffle post – that monster looks amazing!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I thought for sure a chocolate something would have made your list! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Love your picks!

  44. It has truly been a joy to see everyone’s selections and reflections. As we have learned along the way we have so often had similar experiences and reactions, regardless of our personal taste preferences. Not to mention those of our taste testers ๐Ÿ™‚ Learning that the French cooking does not have to be difficult, trusting to try new techniques (how about cooking with Saran Wrap – LOL) and of course, learning about each other and who likes to style with raspberries and such ๐Ÿ™‚ It has been a joy ~

  45. The soufflรฉ does look sensational, Liz…As does the rhubarb upside down cake…Oh, and everything you listed of course! Thanks for the link to the how-to on making rhubarb glisten on my cakes =0

  46. That Rhubarb Down Cake surprised me with how good it is! I plan to try it with cherries and then try it with peaches too. We loved it! Your list is a pretty sophisticated bunch of recipes Liz.I wonder want Bill’s list looks like:)

  47. Somehow, I don’t think too many of your top five were Mr. Bill approved ๐Ÿ™‚
    I love reading everyone’s round up. So much good food that I forgot about!

  48. It’s been so long since I’ve had rhubarb that I don’t remember the taste. This lovely little cake would make a great refresher course!

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