Old fashioned is new again with this Old Fashioned Rhubarb Cake; made with simple pantry ingredients, and served only with a dusting of powdered sugar and a scoop of good vanilla ice cream, this cake is the epitome of all early summer desserts!
I love rhubarb! It’s always been a part of my life. Even as a little boy, I can remember the tart and bitter taste of raw, uncooked rhubarb. My dad used to take the time to care for and harvest the rhubarb that he grew just beside our house. Even still, he has a nice patch of rhubarb that he cuts several times each season. I never get any of his rhubarb though, because he loves it just as much as I do and he makes it into jam for himself.
When I was a kid, growing up in Newfoundland, rhubarb was a very common and well-loved product of the summer months. Like I said, my dad grew some rhubarb, but I particularly remember one family who grew the biggest rhubarb I had even seen – even to this date, I haven’t seen rhubarb so large or taste so good.
I have told you this story before, Dear Reader. In fact, you can read all about it in my Glazed Streusel Rhubarb Muffins post. But, since it’s such a great story, I’ll tell you all about it again.
This particularly large rhubarb that I’m speaking of, might have had a wickedly sinful reason just why they tasted so good in the first place. I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying that the heart wants what it can’t have? Well, I think the same thing can be said for what the belly craves!
Like I said, this family’s rhubarb was extremely large. It was a fenced-in patch of rhubarb that had to be about twenty or thirty feet square. It was located right behind their house, which made it most difficult to steal.
Yes, I said steal. Us kids would often slip our arms through the fence and pull out a stalk or two. It was a perfect snack on a hot summer day. Oftentimes, we would just so happen to be passing by when the owners were cutting down the rhubarb and they would always happily give us some. I’m not sure why we thought we needed to steal it; had we had knocked on the door and asked, I’m sure they would have given us a stalk and send us on our way.
I guess it’s just the kind of thing the kids in the 80’s did. It wasn’t just the rhubarb! A nearby family grew crab apples and cherries, also inside a fenced-in yard, but we managed to get in there too, even if we did have to wait until after dark. It’s been many years since I’ve been back to the small town where I grew up. And, if I were to go back now, I’d still look for the familiar sights that were childhood favourites.
Both of the owners of these tempting gardens have passed away now. But my memories of their delicious fruits still vividly remain. Rest in peace Mr. & Mrs. Martin and Mr. & Mrs. Tilley. It’s recipes like this one that remind me of you and keep my fond childhood memories alive.
Speaking of eating rhubarb right out of the ground, have you tried that? I swear, it’s good! It’s certainly not for everyone, and I probably wouldn’t do it now, but back in the day, those tart stalks of crisp rhubarb, dipped in sugar, was the be all to end all! Yes, Dear Reader; here’s how: trim the root end and cut off the green top. Then, just dip the tip of the rhubarb stalk into plain old white sugar and munch away. I cannot tell you how many times we ate this as kids!
As I’m thinking back on it, I’m remembering how gritty the sugar felt on the tongue, but that sweet and sour combo was so delicious! But, make no mistake about it, it was never as delicious as my Old Fashioned Rhubarb Cake. This cake is one that you can make in no time and perfect for an afternoon social tea. (Sorry – I’m re-watching Downton Abbey!)
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Old Fashioned Rhubarb Cake
- 1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon white vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups rhubarb, diced about 1 cm thick
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 10 inch cake pan by liberally greasing with non-stick spray. Set aside.
- With a hand-held mixer, blend together the butter and sugar until well combined.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and incorporate into the butter and sugar mixture.
- Next, add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. With the hand-mixer set to a low speed, incorporate the ingredients well.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients, and once again with the hand-mixer set to a low speed, incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just mixed through.
- Lastly, stir in the rhubarb with a rubber or wooden spatula.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and even spread the batter around the pan. Tap the pan firmly on a hard surface to help rid the batter of any air bubbles and to ensure the batter is into the corners of the cake pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool in the cake pan for 15 minutes before turning the cake out onto a wire cooling rack.
- When completed cooled, dust with confectioner's sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream. (Optional)
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