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Rhubarb Ginger Upside Down Cake

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Rhubarb Ginger Upside Down Cake is pretty, old fashioned, and baked in a cast iron skillet just like my grandma used to do. It’s easy to make and you don’t need any special tools, not even a mixer. The pairing of ginger with rhubarb has an exotic, yet old-fashioned flair to it. This isn’t your run of the mill rhubarb dessert. A slice of rhubarb ginger upside down cake being served.

Rhubarb can sometimes be tricky. You never know how tart your rhubarb might be and this cake is easy to doctor up if it turns out your rhubarb is so tart it makes your tongue twist. See below for my tips for a tart cake! 

Rhubarb is one of those things that most people love or they absolutely hate. I like it a lot. It’s a nostalgic thing for me. My grandma used to grow it in her garden and she’d make us a dessert she called frog eggs and pond scum. Maybe sometime I’ll have to share that too. It’s a deal.A slice of rhubarb ginger upside down cake on a white plate.

This upside down cake is pretty simple. It reminds me of a kuchen, a simple cake with fruit baked on top and it makes a supremely moist cake. I’ve made mine in cast iron skillet, but you can also just bake it in a 9 inch cake pan

Tips for too tart rhubarb. If your rhubarb cake turns out too tart, here’s what you can do to fix it! 

  • Serve it with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. 
  • Brush the top with warmed strawberry jelly, honey, or corn syrup! 

Making the cake:

  1. You’ll start by melting butter in your cast iron skillet. Add some brown sugar and a few teaspoons of ginger and heat it until the sugar dissolves. (Note: The cake in the photos was made with dark brown sugar as it was all that was available at the store at the time I took photos. Dark brown and light brown sugar will both work, though in this recipe I prefer the light brown sugar because I think it looks nicer on the finished cake.)A cast iron skillet with melted butter, ginger and brown sugar.

2. Next you’ll carefully add fresh chopped rhubarb that’s been cut into 1 inch pieces. Remember, your pan will still be hot! Arrange them in an even layer over the sugar mixture. Chopped rhubarb goes on top of the sugar topping.

3. That’s it for the rhubarb topping, now onto the cake! We’ll whisk together buttermilk, eggs, oil, vanilla extract and the remaining brown sugar and ginger. The dry ingredients get added to the same bowl, but just give the top of the dry ingredients a stir before mixing them into the wet. A mixing bowl full of cake batter.

4. Spread the batter over the chopped rhubarb and into the oven it goes! This cake takes about 30 minutes to bake. You’ll know it’s done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let your cake cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before carefully turning it out of the pan onto a serving platter. The cake batter is spread over the rhubarb.


Rhubarb Ginger Upside Down Cake on a silver serving platter. *A note on turning the cake out. If you have weak wrists, you might want to use a regular cake pan instead of a cast iron skillet. Sometimes it gets a bit tricky trying to turn a cake out of those heavy skillets. Safety first!

A slice of rhubarb ginger upside down cake on a white plate.

Rhubarb Ginger Upside Down Cake

Yield: 8 slices
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Rhubarb ginger upside down cake makes a simple and sweet, but stunning dessert with an old fashioned flavor.


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 3 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter in a 9 inch cast iron skillet or cake pan. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 teaspoons of the chopped ginger. Heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. If using a cake pan, place the butter into the cake pan and then put the cake pan in the oven the butter has melted. Stir in the butter and the sugar and then return to the oven for a few minutes until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Carefully add the chopped rhubarb to the pan in a single layer. Set the pan aside.
  4. In a medium sized mixing bowl add the buttermilk, eggs, oil, remaining brown sugar and the rest of the ginger. Whisk until well combined.
  5. Add the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda to the mixing bowl. Very lightly stir just the top of the dry ingredients to disperse the baking soda, baking powder, and salt in the flour. Then whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
  6. Smooth the cake batter over the rhubarb with a spatula or the back of a spoon, making sure that the cake batter completely and even covers the rhubarb.
  7. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack before carefully turning the cake out of the pan onto a serving plate.
  9. Serve warm or cold.

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Rhubarb ginger upside down cake makes a simple and sweet, but stunning dessert with an old fashioned flavor.

If you love this easy cake recipe, you might also enjoy these. 

Blackberry Kuchen

Peach Kuchen

Molasses Skillet CakeA slice of Molasses Skillet Cake with whipped cream sits next to a cast iron skillet.

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