Brown Butter Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake


This spring was the first time I really tried rhubarb. I had tasted it before, overpowered by strawberries in a pie or two. Never on its own. I am usually a person with two speeds; “not interested” or “utterly in love with”. Feeling pure love for food is not something new to me. But feeling pure love for rhubarb was, and boy is it great.


So, with this new love of mine I wanted to let it shine (too far?) in every form I could. The pie, the crumble, the jam, the syrup, I had accomplished. I didn’t know what form I wanted to incorporate it into cake. I thought of a recipe I love from “A Cozy Kitchen” (she’s the best!), It was a brown butter sour plum upside-down cake. It completely made my whole week the first time I had made it. I thought that the rhubarb would work because it was almost at same tartness level. It ended up working very well. I did miss the rhubarb’s pink color. Seeing it brown is a little crazy. It’s similar to when you think you see someone you know when in reality it’s just a stranger looking at you weird.


The easy way to make this is in a cast iron skillet. I happen to not have one (gasp). It’s on my want list, but alas. I used a normal skillet to make the caramel topping and then transferred it to a cake pan. It is still very easy, just one more step. This recipe makes a dense lightly spiced cake with a buttery caramel that encases a tart fruit and totally transforms it. This would be brilliant in the fall with tart apples. I’m happy to be back blogging. I’m back with more consistent posts, I promise. I recently had some personal things going on. I’m sure I will divulge into them eventually. Until then, enjoy the sun and make this cake. Also, let’s all make popsicles because that’s all everyone is making online this month. Can someone bring me one? Thanks.


Brown Butter Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

adapted from A Cozy Kitchen

Serves 6-8


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup whole milk


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Scant pound of rhubarb, cut into 1 1/2 inch batons
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a larger bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla. Mix until smooth.
  3. To the sugar and butter mixture, add 1/2 of the flour mixture then the milk. Finally add the remaining flour, but be careful not to over mix. Just until it combines.
  4. In a skillet melt the butter over a medium heat for about two minutes, or until it turns a light brown. Add the brown sugar and salt. When it starts to bubble, remove from the heat.
  5. Transfer the topping to a 9 or 10 inch cake pan and spread it around the base evenly. Next, add the rhubarb any way you want. Pack them in. However, the rhubarb didn’t shrink the way plums or apples will. Pour the batter over the rhubarb and spread it until it’s even. Place on rimmed baking sheet because it might bubble over a little. Put into the oven for 25-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean (every oven is different).
  6. Remove cake from oven and allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes in the pan. To invert, run a butter knife or offset spatula along the outside of the cake. Next, get a larger plate or cake stand and put it on top of the cake and flip it over and lightly jiggle it to release.
  7. Enjoy warm or room temperature with whipped cream.

3 thoughts on “Brown Butter Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

  1. Seema

    I can’t wait to make this cake. I love rhubarb but it has been years since I used it in a dish. Hollie, Have you tried alternative flour recipes for any of your cakes before? I would love to try this with a wheat alternative, but I know it usually requires a combination of different kinds of flours to provide a similar texture or cohesion for cakes. I usually add tapioca or rice flour to achieve this, but I wondered if you had tried a successful alternative yourself. Thank you for such a wonderful idea!

      • Seema

        I’m sticking to your recipe first! I have so much nostalgia around baked goods with rhubarb. It will truly be a treat to try out. Thank you, again Hollie:)

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