Stunning Sour Cream & Rhubarb Cake

Don’t you hate it when you underestimate how much cake batter you will have with a mixture and end up using a mixing bowl which is far, far too small for it. And then you end up battling waves of cake batter with your hands and a spatula, while simultaneously trying to hold the bowl still and getting batter all over your arms. AND THEN, a single strand of hair decides to start poking you in the eyeball and you’d attempt to blow it off your face and you think that it’d be so much easier if you could just brush it off using a hand but then that would mean that you end up with cake batter on your face and in your hair. And during all this, you’re berating yourself for not using a bigger mixing bowl but if you pull one out now then that will mean you have yet another dish to wash AS WELL AS ADMITTING DEFEAT TO THE CAKE.

*takes a deep breath*

Sure, the above may not have happened to you (probably because you, my darling readers, are not quite as abysmally stubborn or insane as I am), but you can put yourself in my shoes and be aware of the mindset that I was in when my sister, at that VERY moment when my baking world was drowing in sticky brown sugar cake batter, decided to waltz up to me and ask what I was making.

“Sour cream & rhubarb cake” was my grumbled response.

“Ewwww”, she replied. “I hate rhubarb”



Okay, so I didn’t mean to holler that bit, and felt a bit bad when she cowered slightly from the manic tone in my voice, but still – come on! Who hates rhubarb? How can you hate rhubarb?

Well, I might understand a dislike of rhubarb if someone at some stage convinced you to gnaw on a raw stalk, but when properly cooked, it’s one of those divine foodstuffs which can help create a wonderful sour balance to sweetness, akin the the powers of the almighty lemon.

*takes a moment to bow to the lemon gods*

After some Kitchen Wench-style interrogation, I discovered that my sister didn’t actually hate rhubarb, but that she had never actually eaten it before. Which actually brings me to a pet peeve of mine – saying you hate a food because you’ve never had it before. When it comes to something such as crumbed and deep fried sheeps brains, I can understand being a little hesitant, but rhubarb is a classic dessert foodstuff which can be so incredibly tasty when treated with the respect that it deserves!

As this was the case, I coerced my sister into enjoying a slice of the cake once it was out of the oven, with a big decadent dollop of double cream and this was enough to change her tune from “I hate rhubarb” to “Oh-my-god-this-rhubarb-cake-is-freakin-DELICIOUS!”

I can’t take any credit for the cake itself since the recipe comes from Australia’s own baking goddess, Belinda Jeffery, but what I can do is vouch for it’s fabulousness. The cake can be served almost like a pudding when taken straight out of the oven, or you can let it cool and firm up a bit, at which point it becomes this unctuous, incredibly moist and tender structure, with delightful chunks of rhubarb to balance the richness and sweetness of the cake itself.

It’s rather homely in appearance, but while I wouldn’t use this for a wedding cake, it’s the perfect sort of morsel that you’d enjoy around the kitchen table with a cup of tea, a little dollop of cream on the side and while enjoying a quiet, peaceful afternoon :)

Sour Cream & Rhubarb Cake
(recipe from “The Country Cookbook” by Belinda Jeffery)

350g (2 & 1/3 cups) Self-Raising Flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
330g (1 & 1/2 cups) firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
240g (1 cup) sour cream
440g (4 cups) rhubarb, cut into 1cm chunks
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
25g (1/3 cup) flaked almonds (not necessary, but it adds a nice aesthetic to the cake)

Pure cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C and grease a 26cm round cake tin (I just used non-stick baking paper as this ensures easy clean up). Then mix together the flour, salt, nutmeg and 1 and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon in a bowl with a whisk and set aside. Put the butter and brown sugar into a separate bowl and beat till the mixture resembles (and feels like) wet sand.

3. Once the butter is fully incorporated, add the egg and beat will till the mixture is fluffy and creamy and there are no more lumps of sugar.

4. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat in till well combined.

5. Mix in the flour on low speed till combined, then add your rhubarb chunks and stir briskly to make sure that the rhubarb is completely coated in batter. PLEASE use a large bowl like I did in the pictures, as if you don’t (like my first attempt at this cake), you will end up with a overflowing bowl of messy deliciousness that will go EVERYWHERE!!)

6. Once the mixture is combined, scrape it into your prepared cake tin and sprinkle the top liberally with flaked almonds, caster sugar and the remaining cinnamon. I didn’t have any almonds the second time I made this (as you can see in the picture), but I actually found that the top stayed nice and crunchy even longer without the almonds. Go figure!

7. Bake the cake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or till a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Now at this stage you can serve it as a pudding by scooping it out of the container with a large spoon and serving with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream…but if you wait till it cools down, it tastes even better as a luscious, tender cake with lashings of pure cream.

NOW! I’ve actually got a bit of rather exciting news for you, my darling readers! I’ve actually been asked to be a columnist for a new food magazine that is starting up this year, called The Gourmet Kitchen! As far as I’m aware, it will be published quarterly here in Australia, but the first edition is coming out in June and I hope that you’ll follow my adventures in print as well as here! And don’t worry, I’ll still be running this blog…it just means that you can find my inane ramblings elsewhere as well 😛

To anyone who is interested in reading the print articles when they come out, I’ll keep you posted closer to the actual publishing date, but I was so excited that I wanted to share the good news! And I also wanted to thank all my readers – for following my nonsensical utterings and stream-of-consciousness rants for what is now almost 5 years! Your comments and emails are what help keep this blog going, and it’s been a blast :) I can’t wait to see what else the future has to bring for us together!


  1. Deb in Indiana says:

    The proper answer to “Ewwww, “I hate ” is “More for me!”

  2. OMG!! I will try this recipe as soon as get the ingredients!! I personally loooove rhubarbs!! Thank you for posting this recipe! Btw, I meant to comment before too, but your eggs and butter look so much richer and darker. Here in the states, unless we get our eggs fresh from the farm we can’t get the yolk that yellow. Also with butter, when I bake I try to get the European butter b/c the American ones have less butterfat. Anyway, thx!!!

  3. spindrift says:

    UNGGHHH this cake ! that crackly top! the sour cream!

    brown sugar beat with butter in Singaporean temperatures is not likely to “wet sand” make, but i would try it (or make unreasonable demands for others to make it and share some) just to get some of that. cake. on. my. fork.

  4. Mmmmmmmmm, this cake looks SO good! I adore rhubarb…yum. :) Gorgeous pictures!

  5. Well done on the writing gig Ellie – so proud! And now I now what to do with the extraordinary amount of rhubarb I have in the backyard – YUM!

  6. I simply love rhubarb! Such a unique flavor, and well anticipated to enjoy when it’s in season! I look forward to giving this recipe a try! thanks!

  7. So far, i haven’t made anything with rhubarb but i must try this. It looks delicious!

  8. I hate it when people have a blanket ‘hate’ on things they haven’t tried before, they need to be a bit more open minded.
    Congratulations on the new job too. Good luck.

  9. Ingredients bought! Will let you know how it turns out when I bake it tomorrow!

  10. look forward to ur new text versions =).
    love your blog! love your writing

  11. I just made it! It turned out fabulously! Love it!!! Thanks for the great recipe and congrats on your writing gig 😀

  12. Yesterdays Ruhbarb Cake, the outside was a touch over cooked but pretty good seeing as it is the first cake in our new oven. Very tasty!

  13. There is no excuse for not loving rhubarb! I’ll keep this in mind for when spring finally comes around here.

  14. Congratulations on the column! As for the cake, it looks, just terrifyingly good. Terrifyingly.

  15. I know you said it’s not-wedding pretty, but I really like the look of this. It’s rustic and homey looking, perfect for a cosy afternoon tea snack.

    I personally have that too-small-bowl problem frequently. What is wrong with my spatial sense?

  16. @Deb in Indiana – hehehe, I’m glad we’re of the same mind! :)

    @YangHwa Pugsley – I’ve heard that before about our butter and eggs – and cheese as well! At any rate, I hope the cake turns out as well for you as it does for me :)

    @spindrift – I’ve heard that baking in Singapore’s humidity can be a bit of a challenge, but hopefully this recipe will still work in your climate! :)

    @sara – Thank you! :)

    @Lisa – Thanks Lisa! :)

    @Shelby – I agree, I adore rhubarb and think that it’s one of those ingredients which is very much under-appreciated! :)

    @Cakewhiz – Oh, I hope you give this a try as it’s quite marvellous!

    @InTolerantChef – Thank you!

    @Allan – Thank you!

    @Naoko – I’m so glad to hear that it worked out well for you! And thank you for the congratulations! :)

    @Rory Hart – Hurrah! Learning to work with a new oven always takes a little time, but hopefully the two of you will be baking flawlessly soon :)

    @anna – I agree! And as we’re approaching autumn here in the Southern hemisphere, hopefully your rhubarb isn’t too far off :)

    @Tori (@eat-tori) – hehehe, thank you! :)

  17. I have just discovered your blog in a search for a bulk recipe for *excellent* cupcakes…and stumbled upon a gold mine of gorgeous recipes, fabulous commentary and brilliant photos. Thanks for your passion and dedication – well worth it.

  18. That cake looks gorgeous! And I happen to loooove rhubarb 😀 Love the step by step photos as well.
    Heidi recently posted..Apricot Cookie Dough Bites

  19. Goodness me! That looks SILLY delicious!!! Perfect for summer!

    Great blog; happy I found you!

    Mary xo
    Mary @ Delightful Bitefuls recently posted..Happiness

  20. heh, the first paragraph of this post pretty much describes everytime I cook. I’m always ending up with batter on my face because of those peaky hairs that like to poke me in the eyes!

    This cake looks delicious, I love how crinkled the top looks, it makes it seem so tasty!

    Congrats on the column, that’s awesome!
    Taz recently posted..Basbousa

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who suffers from this! 😀 And thank you for the congratulations – except now I’m already up to my second deadline! EEP!

  21. Kay Bertholdt says:

    This was excellent…needed to do my conversions (but thanks for those you did for me!). I made my own self-rising flour. Thanks for a new use of rhubarb.

  22. Was yummy, however couldn’t see in the recipe where the left over 1/2 tsp of Cinnamon & the 1/4 tsp of Nutmeg was suppose to be added to ? So threw it into the caster sugar at the end before sprinkling over the
    flaked almonds… this right or was there a different step ?

    • Whoops sorry about that! The nutmeg is added to the flour along with the first amount of cinnamon, but there’s no reason that adding it to the sugar sprinkle wouldn’t taste as delightful :)

  23. hi ellie
    trying to make this cake and was curious about the conversions
    want to get it right as i am making it for my two best 88 year old girls
    Should the brown sugar be 330 =2.75 cups
    sour cream 240=2 cupps etc
    would love to know if i am bad at math conversions..

  24. johanna says:

    I am bad at math
    and the cake was a hit!

  25. This recipe looks great! Two questions: 1) I don’t have self-rising flour. Do I add baking power or baking soda? How much? 2) What is caster sugar?

    • Hi Martha, when I run out of SR flour I make my own by adding 1 tsp baking powder for every 1 cup of plain flour. Make sure to double sift the mixture to ensure that the baking powder becomes evenly distributed in the flour mix!

      As for caster sugar, it’s just regular white sugar that has been ground to a finer size. It terms of granular size, it’s halfway between regular white sugar and confectioners sugar :)

  26. Great cake for spring and rhubarb season! It was really luscious and very flavourful as I made it with molasses sugar. Thanks for sharing this recipe!
    Dalia recently posted..Grietininis rabarbarų pyragas

  27. Hi Ellie, I just wanted to let you know that I made this cake last week and the entire thing was gone within 48 hours. In a house of 4 people! My mum (a very petite woman who usually shows some dessert restraint) alone ate 4 slices and made me swear to keep the recipe so that I could make it again, sometime very soon! Thanks for the wonderful recipe :)

  28. Caitlin says:

    Hi Ellie,
    There is a cafe where I live that makes the best Rhubarb and Sour Cream Cake in the whole world. It is by far my favourite cake I have ever eaten.
    In the last few years I have been trying to replicate the cake. Your recipe is by far the closest and yummiest version that I have made so far!!
    Thanks you for the delicious recipe :)

    P.S My sister is also one of those people who says they don’t like Rhubarb and I actually don’t mind because it means more for me!!

  29. I made this and I was so impressed with how it turned out – amazing recipe, thanks Ellie!

    To go with, I added a few teaspoons of vanilla past and 1/2 tsp caster sugar to a few hundred ml of double cream. The resulting combination with rhubarb cake may be my new favourite thing ever.

    Thanks again, I will definitely be exploring other recipes on your site!

  30. Jaye
    Twitter: jayejaye

    Love this recipe, I made it with a bunch of rhubarb that I had in the fridge. It’s been a huge hit – thanks for sharing!
    Jaye recently’s to 2013

  31. Jessica says:

    I need to go buy sour cream and make this TODAY. I went pulled some rhubarb out of the garden yesterday and was just going to make a rhubarb crisp but this sounds so much better.
    Your sister sounds like mine, anything new she says she hates it and isn’t going to try it because she doesn’t like it. How do you know you hate it if you haven’t tried it?!?! We’re always arguing about that when it comes to anything I’m making that she “doesn’t like”. I just want to kick her sometimes. lol

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