Foodstuff: Rhubarbian Rhapsody

Taking advantage of the fruit king of Spring

The author's summer cake takes advantage of peak rhubarb season.
Courtesy photo

The river is rising, the leaves are greening, and spring has sprung in the Roaring Fork Valley! I don’t know about you, but I felt this winter in every inch of my bones. It was a long one, so I have welcomed any signs of the great thaw, including the rampant pillaging of friends’ homegrown produce.

I recently received an email from a friend, alerting me to an obscene amount of rhubarb in her garden, so I grabbed my gloves and headed right over. She knows I love to cook, and I was ready to get in the kitchen and take advantage of this sour, shocking-pink treat. I make this streusel-topped cake all summer long, using rhubarb, then transitioning to peaches* in the later summer months (both variations are excellent). I have baked A LOT of trial-and-error versions of this recipe, as it was tricky to get it right at first with the altitude. This cake is a take on a recipe I got from but required quite a bit of tweaking to get it right at our elevation and climate.

This recipe also yields an absurd amount of cake, so it would be perfect for a barbecue, picnic, or other party full of hungry people who have a sweet tooth. If you’re just making it for yourself (as I do, because single people deserve sheet cakes, too),it lasts a few days covered, and it also freezes nominally well, so you can treat yourself long after the growing season.


Serves 12

Yield one 9×13-inch cake


2C all-purpose flour plus 3T

1 1/4C white sugar

1/2t baking soda

1/2t salt

3 eggs, beaten

1C sour cream

4C diced rhubarb (about 6-8 large stalks)**

1t baking powder

Streusel Topping

1/2C white sugar

1/2C brown sugar

1/4C butter, softened

1/4C all-purpose flour

3/4t ground cinnamon***

Preheat the oven to 375°. Grease and flour a 9×3-inch baking pan.

Make the cake. Stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the beaten eggs and sour cream until the mixture is smooth, then fold in the diced rhubarb. Pour into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly.

Make the streusel. Stir together the white and brown sugars and butter in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir in the flour until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the cinnamon. Sprinkle the streusel mixture evenly on to the top of the cake batter.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes.


*If you cook this with peaches, bake it on the longer side, as they yield more moisture than the rhubarb.

**I slice the rhubarb about ¼ inch thick.

***The recipe originally called for 1/4t of cinnamon, but I like it, so definitely add more to taste if you like it, too!

The friend who generously gave me a crack at her garden has a bumper crop of rhubarb right now, and it’s almost all green, which initially threw me for a loop. Fun fact (after some googling and taste testing): There’s no discernible flavor difference between green and red rhubarb! So, while the pink stuff is pretty, don’t worry too much if you can only find green stalks. Who knew?

Katherine Roberts is a mid-Valley based writer and marketing professional who is probably at the Aspen Saturday Market as you’re reading this. She can be reached via her marketing and communications firm, Carington Creative, at

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