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Rhubarb Vanilla Pound Cake

Rhubarb Vanilla Pound Cake

I grew up with a rhubarb plant in the backyard. The perennial plant was more of a fuss than it was adored, as it hung heavy over the marigolds and outgrew its home in the garden. The large leaves spread out over the lawn, becoming a nuisance when it became time to mow the lawn. The rhubarb plant has been there as long as I can remember, sprouting just as the grass began to turn green. Though my family never used its gift of fruit, we would encourage the neighbors to take what they wished and cut off stalks for family friends.

It wasn't until I began baking that I started to appreciate the rhubarb plant for its tart stalks.

Rhubarb Vanilla Pound Cake Rhubarb Vanilla Pound Cake Rhubarb Vanilla Pound Cake

With a winter that overstayed its welcome, this year the rhubarb did not have a chance to sprout until late May. Though the season for rhubarb lasts all summer long, the vegetable is sweetest when the stalks are young and thin. I waited impatiently for the rhubarb to grow, desperate for a sign of spring, hoping that sharp taste would erase the endless snow and bitter wind. I had already drawn up a recipe list, finding ways to make the most of the stalks, and was simply waiting for my prize. Last week, I finally received my first batch fresh from the garden, hauled three hours to my doorstep by my younger sister.

Unapologetic, the rhubarb was as tart as my winter dreams had dared.

Rhubarb Vanilla Pound Cake

Rhubarb is often buried beneath other flavors, playing second fiddle to fruits like strawberries. Spiced with a pinch of ground ginger or mixed with vanilla bean seeds, the vegetable can stand alone and shine. My love for sour and tart foods refuses to drown out the tartness of the rhubarb with cloying amounts of sugar, and it shows in this pound cake. This cake is a compromise between the tart rhubarb and sweet cake, a simultaneous play on both flavors.

With a dozen stalks remaining in my crisper, you can count on a few more rhubarb recipes appearing in the next couple weeks.

Rhubarb Vanilla Pound Cake

Rhubarb Vanilla Pound Cake is a heavy, dense cake in the most delightful of manners. The cake has a sweet, creamy quality which contrasts with the tart rhubarb pieces scattered throughout. Before baking, sugar is sprinkled over the batter which creates a crackly, sweet crust when it emerges from the oven. The cake is best served by itself, or with a glass of milk or mug of coffee.

One Year Ago: Coconut Nutmeg Pudding and Lavender Lemonade
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Three Years Ago: Bittersweet Chocolate Sherbet with Coconut Rum Sauce

Rhubarb Pound Cake

Yields 1 loaf (or 3 mini loaves)

2 cups (240 grams) rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup (115 grams) butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
1/3 cup (75 grams) sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Lightly grease a loaf pan.

In a medium frying pan, mix the cut rhubarb with 1/4 cup sugar. Over medium-high heat, cook the rhubarb until it is fork tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes. The rhubarb needs to be able to hold its shape or it will get lost in the cake batter. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well between additions. Mix in the vanilla bean paste, sour cream, and salt until uniform. Stir in the flour until just incorporated. Gently fold in the rhubarb pieces and any juice remaining in the pan.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with a tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Serve warm or room temperature, with a cup of tea or spoonful of strawberry jam.

Reader Comments (35)

This sounds wonderful! I love trying rhubarb in various baked goods, but haven't made a pound cake yet! Yum!
I apprieciate rhubarb since two years ago when I had my first rhubarb pie (I know it's late). It's amazing that something do thick can get so sweet and delicious.
What I would give for a loaf of this right now with a mug of coffee on the side! YUM.
Yum! I love rhubarb - this looks really delicious! :)
06.6.2013 | Unregistered Commentersara
Those are such lovely cakes!
I just browsed through your blog for the 1st time- and I am speechless with the beauty if these photos!
06.7.2013 | Unregistered Commentercara
sounds delicious - I love rhubarb & also sweets that are also a little tart :)
06.7.2013 | Unregistered CommenterVickie
Looks delicious. I don't think I've really tried rhubarb but I've been seeing a lot of recipes. I think it's time I try something new :)
i could never get enough of your perfectly beautiful and exceptionally wonderful blog
06.8.2013 | Unregistered Commenterpetal and plume
Utterly delicious use of rhubarb!!
I agree with the above comments; I love your style - your blog (out of the gazillion blogs I read) is one of my favourites. You are very smart when putting flavours together, and I love that. Rhubarb is my favourite and I cannot wait to try this cake. Thanks for this post :)
06.9.2013 | Unregistered Commenterheather
This looks really delicious, I've only just started to bake with Rhubarb and I can't wait to try new recipes such a this one.

I just made this this afternoon and it's SO DELICIOUS! I'm about to share it on my blog, actually. (With credit linking back to your original recipe, of course.)

Thanks for the yummy recipe! I look forward to trying out more of your stuff!
06.9.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristina
I can NOT wait to make this....I think the margarita cake will come right after!!!

So happy to find your lovely blog.

Greetings from France!
06.10.2013 | Unregistered Commenterfleaingfrance
Awesome. Pinned for later!
06.10.2013 | Unregistered Commenterfrancesca
You could try forcing your rhubarb, like we do in the UK -you get long, lipstick pink, sweeter stems. They don't seem to force here in France which surprises me. It's easily done - cover one of the rhubarb crowns with an upturned trash can or length of wide piping with a cover to exclude light. Do this next spring just as the the plant starts back into life. Don't cover all the crowns as forcing should be done every other year as it depletes vigour. Forced rhubarb requires very little cooking and isn't at all stringy.
Lovely photographs btw
06.10.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Beattie
Just made this- currently in the oven and smelling delicious!
06.10.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTara
This was delicious! My neighbor constantly gives me rhubarb when it's in season, and I had to try this
recipe. I was hesitant because it didn't call for baking powder/or soda but it was fantastic. This recipe is
a keeper!
06.10.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarol
Can this pound cake be frozen?
06.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMary Jacobs
Mary Jacobs-- Yes, it should freeze just fine!
06.11.2013 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
They look so good...
Your cake looks fantastic!
06.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLooking FANCY
I see so many good recipes now with rhubarb. I am so distressed that I can not grow it here. Lived in MN at one time and I loved it!!
06.15.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoan
looks yummy! great use of rhubarb.
06.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDina
Looking wonderful.. I will try it this week!
06.17.2013 | Unregistered Commenteraysegul
What if I subsituted the sour cream for greek yogurt and do you have any suggestions for using something other than all that sugar?
06.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterApril Hamilton
Sounds amazing. How long would you bake the mini loaves? Thanks.
06.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDeb T
April-- Substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream should work just fine! If you want to cut down on sugar, I might eliminate 1/4 to 1/2 of a cup. The texture of the cake should be fine, but the rhubarb will be tart!

Deb T-- To be honest, I didn't keep track. I believed they baked somewhere between 30-40 minutes, but mini loaf pans vary in size quite a bit so I would go 25 minutes and check every 5 minutes thereafter.
06.17.2013 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
My daughter-in-law baked me this pound cake, put it in the mail in CA. & it arrived in Utah a few days later. It stayed moist with just the right amount of tartness. Fabulous recipe & fabulous daughter-in-law.
06.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Char
This is a great recipe. I made a full-sized loaf and didn't change a thing about the recipe. I sliced it when it was hot out of the oven because I was excited about it and it was good, but didn't blow my mind. Then I let it cool overnight and had a slice the next morning and it was fantastic. I ate most of the loaf on my own before the sun went down. The texture changed and became dense and moist and the rhubarb mellowed out a little. It tasted like a dense little angel-food cake with tasty little pieces of mellow rhubarb. This recipe is an absolute keeper. I'm going to play around with it in mini loaf pans and maybe muffin tins. I also think these will freeze well. What a great way to use an abundance of rhubarb. Thank you for sharing!
06.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStefanie
I am new to your blog - discovered it thanks to pinterest a few days ago.
Each post I've read to date had been beautifully presented - the photography and the set up are amazing, not to mention the tempting recipes themselves - kudos! And the choices of quotes!
Regarding the Rhubarb Vanilla Pound Cake - do you think it will be disastrous if rather than cooking the rhubarb I let it sit for a while in sugar and lemon? I don't feel like soiling another pot..
07.1.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHannah
I made this for my husband earlier in the week, and the whole family fell in love with it. Such a wonderful way to let the rhubarb shine, all in its own glory. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. :)
07.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
can I use frozen rhubarb? I got some for my mom and she didn't get around to using it due to health issues.
07.29.2013 | Unregistered Commenterkathleen dean
This is one of the best baked goods I've made in a while. I'm looking forward to rhubarb season just to make it again. Seriously perfection!! everyone go make it!
09.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTar Mo
This is a delicious loaf. I used coconut oil in place of butter and only 1/2 the sugar. I substituted the sour cream with kefir. Very moist and not too sweet.
10.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarla

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