Light, bright, and just sweet enough, this lemon rhubarb cake is the best spring dessert. Filled with pops of tart rhubarb, it's a simple lemon sponge base. Lemon zest is rubbed into the sugar before mixing with sour cream, vanilla, and oil, for a cake that's soft, moist, and packed with rhubarb and lemon flavour.

For more rhubarb recipes, try our easy rhubarb clafoutis, make a rich rhubarb bread, or whip up a batch of creamy rhubarb custard bars.

A rhubarb cake with one slice removed, topped with edible flowers.
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Ingredients

Lemon rhubarb cake ingredients with labels.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Oil: we tested with both neutral vegetable oil and olive oil. A neutral oil is best if you want a simpler cake, with the lemon and rhubarb coming through more strongly. If you like the taste of olive oil in baking, you can use olive. Any light oil will work well.
  • Rhubarb: you will need fresh rhubarb for this cake. Frozen or thawed rhubarb will make it soggy.
  • Sour cream: this makes for the lightest crumb and best taste, but you can substitute Greek-style yogurt.
  • Lemons: get unwaxed, organic lemons if possible and wash well before zesting.

Method

Lemon cake steps 1 and 2, adding wet ingredients to a bowl.

Step 1: rub the lemon zest into the sugar. This helps to distribute the lemon flavour more effectively.

Step 2: add the lemon juice and other wet ingredients.

Cake steps 3 and 4, wet ingredients mixed and batter with rhubarb added to it.

Step 3: whisk until well combined and no lumps are visible.

Step 4: add the wet ingredients and rhubarb to the flour mixture.

Rhubarb cake steps 5 and 6, finished batter and baked cake.

Step 5: mix until no streaks of flour are visible.

Step 6: transfer to a springform pan and bake until lightly golden.

Top Tips

  • Don't reduce the pan size: we tested in a 9-inch and 10-inch springform. A smaller tin will need a longer baking time and the cake will be over-baked on the outside and under-baked in the middle.
  • Stick with oil: don't be tempted to replace the oil with butter. When oil is used in cakes, it makes them more moist and light. For this cake you have sour cream and lemon adding extra flavour so you won't miss the butter – using it instead of oil will make the cake a little dry.
  • Keep the lemons: not only do they taste great in combination with the rhubarb, the added lemon juice helps the cake to rise. You could use orange zest and juice if preferred.

Recipe Notes

If you don't have a springform pan, you can probably use a standard cake pan (but make sure it's the right size). Line with strips of parchment paper so that you can carefully lift the cake out once it's cooled enough to handle.

While it's not as important for oil-based cakes that the ingredients are at room temperature, it will still make a bit of a difference. If possible, try to have the eggs at room temperature, but don't worry too much if you forgot to take them out.

How to Store

Storage: keep in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 2 days. For longer storage, the cake can be refrigerated. We don't recommend keeping it in a warm place as the rhubarb will spoil quickly.

Freezing: transfer the fully cooled cake to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature before serving. Note that the rhubarb pieces might be a little soggy after thawing.

If you make this Lemon Rhubarb Cake recipe or any other cake recipes on the Baked Collective, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more baking, follow along on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

A rhubarb cake with one slice removed, topped with edible flowers.
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Lemon Rhubarb Cake

Light, bright, and just sweet enough, this lemon rhubarb cake is the best spring dessert. Filled with pops of tart rhubarb, it's a simple lemon sponge base.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Yield: 10 servings

Equipment

  • Measuring cups and spoons or a digital kitchen scale
  • Microplane or other grater that will yield fine zest
  • Mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • Spatula
  • Springform pan

Ingredients

  • 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 medium lemons
  • cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons full-fat sour cream
  • ½ cup vegetable oil plus extra for greasing the tin
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ⅓ cups rhubarb washed, ends trimmed, and chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Lightly grease the inside of a 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil. Set aside.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl until well combined. Set aside.
    1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Use a microplane to zest both lemons into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar to the bowl. Use your hands to rub the lemon zest into the sugar until no white sugar remains.
    2 medium lemons, ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • Juice one of the zested lemons directly into the bowl of sugar (reserve the other zested lemon for another recipe). Add the sour cream, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract to the bowl. Whisk well to combine.
    ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons full-fat sour cream, ½ cup vegetable oil, 2 large eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Use a spatula to fold the flour in halfway, then add the chopped rhubarb. Continue to fold the cake batter until the rhubarb is well distributed and the flour is just mixed in (a few streaks of flour are okay).
    2 ⅓ cups rhubarb
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and use a butter knife to smooth the top. Place the tin in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top is golden and the edges pull away slightly from the sides.
  • Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Remove the cake from the tin and transfer it to the rack to cool completely. Serve with a light sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Notes

To use a 10-inch springform pan, reduce the baking time by 5 minutes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 275kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 171mg | Potassium: 168mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 197IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.

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