Martha’s Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

There are recipes that I’ve found via internet, magazines or cookbooks that I feel compelled to share. And in the past there have been many times that I’ve read a recipe and can’t imagine what it’s suppose to look like or turn out to be. What I love about this little step-by-step blog I have is that I get to unfold those “hard-to-imagine” recipes in front of your eyes, showing you how easy it can be or how it’s supposed to turn out at the end, so it clicks and those who aren’t so comfortable in the kitchen can tackle it with success!


That’s exactly what happened to me when I first saw this recipe from Martha Stewart.  It called for rhubarb cut into sharp angles… I thought… Huh? Rhubarb is a stalk… how in the world would I cut it into sharp angles? I eventually figured it out, but I know that this can be a common problem when reading complex or multi-step recipes. So I’m happy to help! 🙂

Martha Stewart… maybe one day I’ll meet her? Maybe she will have me on her show? Does she still have a show? And if not what happened? But if she still does why can’t I find it?? Well Martha definitely knew what she was doing when she came up with the recipe for this cake. The only tweak I made was that I added a little vanilla and more orange zest into the cake batter. Vanilla always adds a little warmth, no?

First, here’s the skinny on this upside-down cake… ya ready?

Rhubarb: Tart and delicious.

Sour Cream Cake: Soft, spongy with a subtle tang.

Crumble Topping: Adds a little crunch for texture.

I mean c’mon really?

Here we have… the ingredients.

Toss the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt into a bowl.

Pour in the melted butter… I sure do love me some buttah!

Stir together until it forms clumps, and set aside.

Grab your rhubarb and give it a good scrub, then trim off the yucky ends and discard.

Hold your knife at a sharp angle and slice about a half of an inch thick working your way down the stalk… it doesn’t have to be precise… but definitely keep those little end bits too {they’re good for filling in the small empty spaces}.

Throw the sliced rhubarb in a bowl.

Toss them with the 3/4 cup of sugar and let them sit. The sugar will pull the juice out of the rhubarb.

Grease a 9 inch pie pan with butter, from top to bottom and lay it on thick! Then dot with a half stick of butter cut into pieces…

Ps… This is in no way a low fat recipe. Sorry… can we still be friends?

Lay the sliced rhubarb {red skin down} making a mosaic like pattern, using the dots of butter to hold them in place. I think Martha just dumps her rhubarb in, and you could do that too if you wish… but this looks way prettier!

Keep going and use the smaller pieces to fill in the small gaps.

Stop when all of the rhubarb is used up… it’s so Purrrrty!

Leftover in the rhubarb bowl is the some sugary rhubarb juice goodness.

Pour that over top and set the pan aside to work on the cake batter!

Whisk together the remaining flour, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt until combined.

Add a stick of butter {I know more butter} and sugar {and even more sugar} into a large mixing bowl. Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light in color and fluffy.

Meanwhile quickly zest an orange and add it to the butter/sugar mixture…

…squeeze a tablespoon of fresh orange juice and add that in as well.

Add in a teaspoon of vanilla… Mix on low until combined.

Next add in eggs, one at a time until mixed thoroughly, scraping down the sides in between.

Then alternately add a spoonful of the dry ingredients…

… And a spoonful of sour cream, until all ingredients are incorporated.

Yum and YUM.

Reserve the beater, leaving a little extra on it for a snack while the cake is baking… I’m tellin’ ya this sour cream batter is AMAZING… sweet, tangy with a subtle orange flavor!!

Pour the batter over top of the rhubarb and spread evenly.

Sprinkle the crumbles over top, breaking any extremely large ones into smaller clumps.

This will eventually become the bottom… ya dig?

Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 50-60, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and top sort of springs back when touched.

Remove and let cool for then minutes. I should also tell you that you may want to place it on a foil-lined sheet pan in case the juices bubble over.

Once it has cooled for the ten minutes; run a knife around the edge to loosen.

Invert on to your favorite platter or cake stand and let cool completely.

I wasn’t getting the pictures I wanted indoors… the lighting in my kitchen was weird that day… and it wasn’t doing this cake any justice what-so-ever.

So I sliced me a sliver and took it outside and then bingo-bango… the color popped!

This cake is desserty {is that a word?} and yet the leftovers are perfect for breakfast alongside a steaming cup of tea or coffee. The crumble bottom adds a surprising texture to this delicious spongy cake. Oh! And the rhubarb rocks!

It literally is heaven on a plate.

The end.


Martha's Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake



1 pound Rhubarb, trimmed and cut on a very sharp diagonal about 1/2 inch thick

3/4 cup Sugar


1 1/2 sticks Unsalted Butter, divided, at room temperature, plus more for buttering pan

1 cup Sugar

1 cups All-Purpose Flour

1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 1/2 teaspoons of Kosher Salt

1 teaspoon finely grated Orange Zest plus 1 tablespoon Fresh Orange Juice

1 teaspoon real Vanilla Extract

2 large Eggs

1 cup Sour Cream


4 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted

1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour

1/4 cup Sugar

A pinch of Kosher Salt

Admiringly Adapted From this Recipe


To Make the Crumble Topping: Start by stirring together melted butter, flour, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until moist and crumbly, then set aside.

For the Rhubarb: Toss prepared rhubarb with 3/4 cup sugar; let stand for 2 minutes.

To Make the Cake: Butter a 9-inch round cake pan at least 2 inches deep then dot with a half stick of butter that has been cut into pieces. Toss the rhubarb again, and place rhubarb {red skin side down} in a mosaic like patter, using the butter to hold it up.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the remaining cup of flour, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Beat remaining {one} stick of butter and cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until light in color and fluffy. Beat in zest and juice. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl in between. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, until smooth. Spread the cake batter over the rhubarb, then sprinkle with the crumble topping evenly over batter.
Place on a foil-lined sheet pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and top springs back when touched, about 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of the cake, and invert onto your favorite platter or cake stand. Let cool completely.

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25 Responses to “Martha’s Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake”

  1. #
    Allison at Novice Life — June 24, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Yum this looks good! I am afraid the Rhubarb is done for the season in my neck of the woods!

  2. #
    Laurie @simplyscratch — June 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Well that's a bummer Alison! 🙁

  3. #
    Stitchin' Sweet Sue — June 24, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Saving for next year, thx for sharing (rhubarb done here too). I enjoyed Martha's show, she's fled network tv and gone to the Hallmark channel on cable, drats…

  4. #
    Nichole — June 24, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Laurie – this is ONE of my favorite cakes that you have made – it was sooo good!!!

  5. #
    Erin — June 24, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    What a wonderful job with the step by step here – never would have figured out the angle, and filling the pan like that. Mine would have looks like a giant mess. Cake is a great way to start off any day, I say!

  6. #
    Pistachio and Rose — June 24, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    What a stunning cake that is, it looks so beautiful!!!

  7. #
    Munatycooking — June 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    I want some 😉 this looks great, have to try it. Thanks for sharing!

  8. #
    Katie Elizabeth — June 24, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Great post & I love that you took so many photos! I have always wanted to try making an upside down cake. They always look sooo good!

    xo katie elizabeth

  9. #
    Jennifurla — June 24, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    its gorgeous, when shall I be over?

  10. #
    Haley @ The Girly Girl Cooks — June 24, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Beautiful cake! I especially love the last photo…the colors just pop! I believe the Martha show is on the Hallmark channel now.

  11. #
    Savannah McQueen — June 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I just found your site and it is beautiful. Great job on the pictures and the design. This cake looks wonderful. I've a friend who was looking for rhubarb recipes and I am going to send her your way!

  12. #
    Pretend Chef — June 25, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    What a beautiful cake with vibrant colors. I miss watching the Martha Stewart Show with my mama. We would make fun of her on occasion but I thinks it's only because we were incredibly jealous of her craftiness. Haha! She's a rockstar and so are you for breaking down the steps for us. Thank you!

  13. #
    Mama.Mommy.Mom. — June 25, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    That looks delish! I don't think I've ever had rhubarb, but I've been seeing so many recipes for it lately… I might have to try it!

  14. #
    Ali — June 25, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    I love that you sliced them long instead of into chunks. It turned out so beautifully 🙂

  15. #
    sherri lynn — June 27, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    This looks so good! I don't think I've ever eaten rhubarb so I don't know if I like it, but this cake looks so delicious I might have to try rhubarb out!

  16. #
    Kay Heritage — June 28, 2011 at 4:49 am

    That's one purty cake, Laurie!!!

  17. #
    amanda — June 28, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    this looks so yummy! i haven't ever really cooked with rhubarb much before…this is motivating me to!:)

  18. #
    Emily — June 30, 2011 at 12:19 am

    Oh Martha! I would not have known about sharp angles either. This looks beyond amazing and after seeing your pictures the sharp angles make perfect sense. Got to hand it to Martha, she knows her stuff.

  19. #
    PFx — June 30, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Wow, so Chic and modern with obvious home made touch. The beauty of the layers and the crumble texturing, I am jealous. Hahaha

  20. #
    Susan Lindquist — July 3, 2011 at 12:10 am

    That Martha! She is a wonder, isn't she? Such a pretty cake and so gorgeously presented!

  21. #
    Sarah — July 4, 2011 at 2:25 am

    I made this cake a few weeks ago with very similar adjustments to yours and it really does just turn out so, so darn pretty! Plus that crumble bottom is pure heaven! Gorgeous photos too!

  22. #
    Lizzy — July 4, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Stunning cake! I never would have dreamed of cutting the rhubarb like that, but it makes for a gorgeous presentation!

  23. #
    Elaura — October 19, 2011 at 5:15 am

    I made this last year for a 4th of July gathering! It was a big hit! I don't think I realized that it was a Martha Stewart recipe at the time. I think I just saw it on foodgawker/tastespotting and went for it. YUM!

  24. #
    Tinia — August 17, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Hi, Making this for the first time. Unless I am misreading something, there are inconsistencies with ingredients and instructions. Baking Soda is listed in the pictured ingredients but not in the recipe at the bottom. Vanilla is also not in the written instructions. Hoping my cake turns out well inspire of missing a few ingredients!

  25. #
    Kathleen Davis — August 17, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    I have the cake in the oven now and hope it turns out for dinner tonight. I noticed discrepancies when comparing the recipes with the MSwebsite. She uses 1 1/2 cups flour in the cake and your site has 1 cup. This make me really nervous as I looked at the M Stewart site after putting the cake in the oven. Also there is no vanilla in the MS recipe and your recipe doesn’t say when to add it. it certainly smells good.

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