Tender, buttery, and loaded with brown sugar streusel, this rhubarb coffee cake is an easy way to use up spring's bounty. Try this recipe with any seasonal fruit: berries, peaches, sour cherries, plums, or apricots. See this recipe for a gluten-free and/or dairy-free coffee cake variation.
Synchronicity is a funny thing. Like the time I got into a friend's car to find him playing Tom Jobim's Aquas do Março, a classic Brazilian bossa nova song I'd been, unbeknownst to him, obsessing over for the past month.
Or the summer I ran into my high school art history teacher in a tiny church in a little-known French town which we had studied in his class.
Or a few weeks ago when a friend messaged me that she was bringing rhubarb coffee cake to a potluck when I'd spent the day looking for just the right recipe. Her coffee cake was nothing short of spectacular; my only complaint was that there wasn't ten times more! The piece I devoured at said potluck, huddled outside in the cold so as to hoard it all to myself, only made me hunger for more.
So I set out to make a rhubarb coffee cake – one that I wouldn't have to share (without having to huddle outside, but rather lounge in my cozy apartment on the couch/ in the bath/ on the kitchen counter). I sat down with a stack of coffee cake recipes that I'd made over the years, muddled them together, and ended up with something which I was torn between wanting to hoard and conversely wished to run up to strangers shouting, 'I made this!' and shove a piece in their mouth. (I did a bit of both.)
Crafting My Best Rhubarb Coffee Cake Recipe
Like most things food-related, I have some preconceived notions about coffee cake. My ideal coffee cake combines a buttery yellow cake with chunks of meltingly tender fruit and plenty of salty, crisp streusel in every bite.
The fruit should melt into the cake, which should bubble up through the streusel. The cake should be rich, but not so buttery as to be heavy or leave a greasy mouthfeel. It should be moist, but not so wet that it takes hours to bake (I've been there.)
It should be delicate enough to crumble under the pressure of a fork, yet sturdy enough to travel well. It should be tall enough to cut into generous cubes. It should not be so sweet as to dissuade you from making it breakfast, but decadent enough that you wouldn't feel cheated having it for dessert, preferably with a warm beverage either way.
This coffeecake is all those things and more; I even witnessed if not a converting of than at least a tolerating by former rhubarb haters and some of the pickiest eaters I know. (After taking several bites: 'Why did you tell me there were vegetables in here? Now you've ruined it.' Takes another bite. Takes another. Finishes piece. Accepts offer of another.)
This rhubarb coffee cake recipe is mainly adapted from Martha Stewart's Sour Cherry coffeecake. I doubled the streusel, and used yogurt and a bit of half and half (which I almost always have in the house) in place of the sour cream (which I rarely have around) which gave it a pleasantly light texture. I baked it in a 9" square pan rather than a tube pan, omitted the glaze, and used chunks of rosy red rhubarb tossed with sugar in place of the cherries.
Coffee Cake All Year Round
It is quite a straightforward recipe, with easy-to-remember quantities. I'm looking forward to trying it with other fruits throughout the seasons, such as berries, peaches, sour cherries, ripe pears (with cardamom), plums, or apricots. You could add sliced almonds or chopped, toasted pecans to the topping if you're a nut lover.
Looking for more rhubarb recipes? Try these:
- Low-sugar strawberry-rhubarb jam with maple & chia
- Rhubarb Crisp (gluten-free & vegan options)
- Brown Butter Rhubarb Squares
- Apple Rhubarb Crisp (gluten-free & vegan options)
- Rhubarb Chèvre Galettes
- Rhubarb Crumb Bars
- Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler with Ginger Oat Scones
- Strawberry Rhubarb Galettes (gluten-free option)
- Apple Rhubarb Cobbler (gluten-free option)
- Rhubarb recipes from TBG archives!
More Coffee Cake Recipes:
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
- Gluten-Free Coffee Cake with Berries
- Gluten-Free Apple Coffee Cake with Brown Butter and Hazelnuts
- Gluten-Free Banana Cake with Chocolate Ganache
*Bojon appétit! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest, purchase my gluten-free cookbook Alternative Baker, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make this rhubarb coffee cake recipe, I’d love to know. Leave a comment and rating below, and tag your Instagram snaps @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet.*
Rhubarb Streusel Coffee CakePrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 stick butter, softened but cool (6 tablespoons)
- 1 stick butter, softened, plus a bit more for the pan
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup yogurt
- 1/4 cup half and half (light cream) or whole milk
- 3-4 large stalks rhubarb, in 1/2" slices (2 1/2 cups or 250 g)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
For the streusel:
- Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the butter, and work with your fingers or paddle on low until the mixture begins to clump together. Set aside at room temperature.
For the cake:
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350º. Grease a 9 x 9 x 2" square pan generously with butter.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (or a bowl with a wooden spoon if you are badass) cream the butter and sugar together on medium until light and fluffy, 3 - 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each, then stir in the vanilla.
- While the wets are doing their thing, sift the dries into a medium bowl. Toss the rhubarb with the tablespoon of sugar and set aside. Stir together the yogurt and half and half.
- With the mixer on low, alternate adding the dries and the dairy in three parts, beginning and ending with the dries and mixing until just combined after each addition. Give the batter a fold with a rubber spatula to make sure it is homogenous.
- Spread a little more than half the batter in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the rhubarb evenly over the top. Cover with the rest of the batter, and sprinkle with the streusel, squeezing into almond sized clumps if necessary.
- Bake the coffeecake for 50-60 minutes until it is golden brown, beginning to pull away from the sides, springs back to the touch, and passes the toothpick test. Let cool for about 1 hour. Cut into 16 squares.
- The coffeecake is best the day it's baked when the streusel is crisp, but will keep for several days at room temperature, or in the fridge for up to a week (but I would warm it up in a toaster oven before eating).
HI! I know this is an old blog post of yours and you might not ever see my comment but I wanted to tell you that I made this today for a church brunch. I have not yet eaten it but I am sure it will be great!! We always have an over abundance of rhubarb in my mother in laws garden that she gives us so I googled and found this. I liked reading this as well. You have a way with words. :) And I will also say the photos are great too. I have a part time portrait photography business so I can appreciate good photographs! I love to bake and cook and have thought about blogging on my photography blog recipes that I have tried. I might just have to do that now! Thanks for the recipe and I am sure it will go over very well at church!!!
Thank you for the kind words! I'm glad the coffeecake seems to have turned out well. Judging by your portraits, I'm sure your food photos will be exquisite. Happy blogging!
This was really good! I made it as written, Thanks for posting this recipe. My family ate up one yesterday, and it was nice to have the second one handy this morning for a fast breakfast. I'll definately be making this one agian.
Glenda Ponroy says
Please, oh please could you give the butter quantities in grams? We don't buy butter in sticks in Europe and measuring butter in cups or spoonfuls is so awkward.
Looks like a great recipe, though.....
Hi Glenda, I do that in newer recipes here, and in my forthcoming book. 1/2 cup = 115 g.
Kerry Llewellyn says
Sorry, that still doesn't explain how much a "stick" of butter is, to those of us not in the USA ! Also, what is "half & half"?
A stick of butter is 113g and "half and half" is used for coffee in the US; it's half full cream and half milk. So basically any cream with less fat than whipping cream should work.
Steph MacDonald says
Hi! You may not see this, but how much rhubarb? I have stalks that are literally three feet long and fat, and stalks that are one foot long and skinny.
Hi Steph, I would say enough to cover the batter in a single layer. Smaller stalks will probably be more tender. LMK how you like it!
I just updated the rhubarb portion of the recipe with cup and gram measurements! :)
Yes PLEASE!! The amount of rhubarb by cups. Saying how many stalks is too vague as they come in all sorts of variations of thickness and length!
I just updated the rhubarb portion of the recipe with cup and gram measurements! :)
Any try this recipe with frozen rhubarb? did it turn out?
I haven't tried it but I'm 99% sure it will work just fine!
Growing up my mother use to make a similar cake. She would get so mad when her aluminum pans would be ruined. The acid in the rhubarb would eat holes in her pans. The solution was found using a glass pan.
This looks amazing. Can't wait to try it with some of the glut of rhubarb we have in our garden. Being English, I expected there to be coffee in the cake mixture - doh! I suppose in the US it is a cake to eat with a drink of coffee? Thanks for the education :-)
It's a confusing name for sure, just like tea cake! ;)
Wonderful recipe! I have a really nice but not overwhelming amount of rhubarb this year and I look forward to making some delicious goodies with it soon. I loved reading this full post and want to say "thanks for wonderful recipe."
Aw thank you for the sweet note! Hope you love the coffee cake. :)
I've just made this recipe for my daughter who has a wheat allergy and substituted the regular flour with Pamela's All Purpose flour. Hopefully it turns out as good as it looks.
How did it turn out?! I've actually been working on a gluten-free version of this made with my own blend of flours. Let me know if you'd like to test out the recipe - I'd be happy to email you a sneak peek! :)
I would like to make this in a 9x13 pan. Do you think multiply everything by 1.5 would work?
That sounds right to me, or you could double the recipe for a taller cake. Let me know what you try!
Joan Parker says
Used sour cream and buttermilk and this Rhubarb coffee cake is one of the best I have made. The cake is so light and fluffy and moist all at the same time. Definitely one that will be added to my recipe book. Thanks....
Yay, I'm so glad you liked it!
Laura Wickett says
When you increase/double the recipe using the serving setting, the measurements in parenthesis do not increase.
I know, it's an unfortunate feature in the system plug-in. I wish it weren't the case.
Diana Hall says
Hi would love to make this cake but stuck on the ingredients, I don't understand quarter cup of half and half, half and half or what , bit thick i know but got me beat
Hi Diana! Thanks for the great question and my apologies for the confusion. In the US "half and half" is sort of a light cream that many people use in their coffee because it's richer than milk, but thinner than heavy cream. It's actually more similar to 3/4 whole milk and 1/4 heavy cream. I'll add more detail into the recipe! But you can just use light cream or a nice, rich whole milk. Please let me know if you try it!
I give this a rating of 2 because the consistency of the cake was good... but that 's the only thing I can say about this recipe. The topping lacked flavor and sweetness.. as did the cake. The cake didn't have enough rhubarb in it for our taste... but with the small amount of sugar it too lacked sweetness. I don't like overly sweet things for breakfast... but this was lackluster. I will never make it again.
In the meantime I am looking for a Great Rhubarb Coffee cake. If anyone has a better recipe... please share. it.
Hi Ann, Thanks for trying my recipe and for the note. I'm sorry that you found this lacking in flavor. If you like the cake otherwise, you can absolutely boost the flavor by adding more rhubarb, sugar, salt, vanilla, and/or cinnamon. Or you could add in other flavors of your choosing such as lemon, orange, or tangerine zest, other baking spices (cardamom, nutmeg, ginger), or play with using more flavorful flours in the recipe (try swapping in 25-50% rye, spelt, or other whole grain flour). It's a pretty forgiving recipe!
You might also like the rhubarb almond olive oil cake I posted recently. The recipe is gluten-free by default (because I can't tolerate gluten anymore - sadface) but you can use all-purpose wheat flour in place of the rice, oat, and millet flours that I use (although those GF flours add nice flavor, so you might enjoy them as well!)
I also have a rhubarb buckle recipe here that uses lemon zest as well as more rhubarb.
And you can check out all my other rhubarb recipes here!
Becky clausen says
Love this recipes made it and it turned out great thanks for it
Ariana Figueroa says
As with all of your recipes, I adore this one. I actually love that it is not super sweet... it's plenty sweet enough I think. Only one problem, my brother in law has requested this cake as a birthday cake because he loved it so much when I made it in the spring. However, I can't find any rhubarb. What fruit would you choose as a substitute? Quince? Tart apples? I think you're brilliant at flavor combos, and so would love your ideas.
Truly appreciate you so much!
Hi! Aw this makes me so happy! I'm so glad you both love the recipe.
In terms of substitutions, you could definitely use poached quince (I have a recipe here if you're looking for one!). I think they would be less tart than rhubarb but they'd have that beguiling floral flavor. You could use tart apples too - would you cook them first? I think they'll be more dry than rhubarb so the cake might not need to bake as long.
Raspberries also come to mind because they're tart-sweet and have that brightness similar to rhubarb. You could use frozen if you don't have fresh ones available where you are. Any berries would work, I think. Plums or pluots would also be nice and tangy if they're in season near you. Tart cherries would be amazing if you could find frozen ones. Cranberries could also work well since they're sour!
Please let me know what you try!