See. Touch. Smell. Taste

Best Rhubarb Cake Recipe: Bon Appetit’s Rhubarb Custard Cake

Best Rhubarb Cake Recipe: Bon Appetit’s Rhubarb Custard Cake

Rhubarb. Probably one of the least talked about vegetables. And yes, it actually is a vegetable. Originating from China, where it was used for medicinal purposes, rhubarb looks like pink/red celery and tastes…..not like celery at all! It’s many times thought of as a fruit because it is typically found mixed IN fruit in pies, cakes, or jams. It has a mild, sweet, tart flavor and needs sugar to make it sing. Strawberries are the most common pairing for rhubarb because together they have the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Rhubarb is in fact wonderful paired with most berries and can be made into a savory condiment like barbecue sauce or ketchup.

rhubarb custard cake lilchefchic

With the Rhubarb season only lasting a few short weeks, it is usually found fresh only in April and May. Look for sturdy stalks that are about 1 to 2 inches in diameter and are blemish free. The leaves are usually removed before they hit the market shelves due to the fact that they contain a highly toxic substance known as oxalic acid. So, should you find some beautiful stalks topped with a beautiful crown of leaves…give them babies a hair cut!

This recipe was in the latest addition of Bon Appetit Magazine, The Travel Issue 2018 and featured in the section “THE SEASON.” It can also be found online @ The recipe below is written verbatim from the website and credited to Bon Appetit Magazine.



4 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter, plus more room-temperature for pan
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
¾ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1½ cups sugar, plus more for sprinkling
¼ cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. dark rum
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
13 oz. rhubarb stalks


Special Equipment
A 9″-diameter springform pan



  • Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour pan. Whisk baking powder, salt, and 1 cup all-purpose flour in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, egg yolk, and 1½ cups sugar in a large bowl until very pale and thick, about 1 minute. Whisk in melted butter, sour cream, rum, and lemon zest. Add dry ingredients and fold in until batter is smooth; scrape into prepared pan.

  • Arrange rhubarb over batter however you like, trimming as needed. Sprinkle with more sugar and bake until cake is golden on top and browned around the sides, 45–55 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan 10 minutes. Slide a knife around sides of cake to loosen and unmold. Slide directly onto rack and let cool completely.
    rhubarb batter slices

    I followed the directions to a “T” making sure to whisk the eggs, yolk, and sugar until pale as described above. This ensures that air is being incorporated into the batter. Folding in the flour rather than stirring also keeps the batter from losing all that air magic you whisked in earlier.  Unlike the pics in the magazine I cut my rhubarb on the bias and made a pretty pattern on the top of the cake. I went to the website and read the reviews as well today and saw that many people had an issue with the rhubard kind of sinking into the cake as did I. I cooked mine for 5 minutes longer (all ovens vary) and did the toothpick test on him as well before pulling from the oven. The true test of when he is done is really the golden color it takes on when it is finished baking.


I would describe the texture as: if a sugar cookie and a pound cake had a baby. It was super moist and slightly tart. The magazine described the inside of the cake as gooey in a good way like a chewy macaroon. I found it to just be a little more dense in the center and deliciously moist.I even had a slice for breakfast the next day with my cup of joe! Would I make this cake again? Yes, yes, and yaaaaaaaaas!

I found this cool little video on youtube from a fellow blogger that gives you 5 different rhubarb ideas and she sums it up in like 3 minutes! Very efficient! Her links to the recipes are provided in the description and there’s even one for rhubarb bbq sauce!

What’s been your experience with rhubarb? Friend or foe? Or maybe you’ve never tried it?

16 thoughts on “Best Rhubarb Cake Recipe: Bon Appetit’s Rhubarb Custard Cake”

  • Those pictures! lol My mouth is watering already! Great simple recipe. Is it too much for me to send my girlfriend to this post? lol.

  • oooh, this looks real good! To be honest, I haven’t been a fan of rhubarb in the past, but the more I try it, the more I like it. And I think I could LOVE it in a pie like this! I actually think it tastes really good raw. Have you ever tried it like that? It’s weird, but it tastes a lot like lemon.

    Now, the tricky part is that I would have to veganize this pie. But that would not be a problem. We have all kinds of tricks up our sleeves! 😉 Plus, I love the challenge of doing that. Can’t wait to try it!

    • Lol. Veganize. Nope Christina, that would not be too hard to do with this dessert. And nope, I actually have not tried this raw but I’ve seen videos of people juicing rhubarb too..hmmmm. Sounds interesting? Thanks for the comment!

  • This looks devine! I love rhubarb pie. The tartness and the sweetness just makes my mouth happy!

  • Looks and sound delicious! Thanks for sharing this post.

  • Wow, What an interesting, informative and mouth-watering article! I think I may have had rhubarb pie once or twice when I was a kid and I don’t even remember if I liked it. Time to find out if I do with that scrumptious looking rhubarb custard cake! My husband is a BBQ sauce junkie so I know he’ll want to try that. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the read and the video as well. What sort of medicinal properties does rhubarb have?

    • Hi Sue! Please let me know how you guys like the bbq sauce-I’ve gotta try that one myself! The rhubarb was (and still is) used in Chinese medicine for mainly stomach ailments such as treating constipation but has also been shown to help get rid of jaundice and even infections in the body. Pretty amazing, huh? 🙂

  • Hello Jennifer,
    What can I say that you don’t already know…my mouth is salivating as I write this! LOL Great recipe. I love Rhubarb and I have made the jam – love it. I did not know that I could make a cake with it too. For sure. I will be experimenting with it. I grow Rhubarb in my garden. Thank so much for sharing.

    • Oh that’s awesome that you grow it! I’ve only seen it in the wilderness of my local grocery store. lol Enjoy the cake! My family sure did:)

  • You got me on this one never tried it before but I think my parents have eaten it in times past. The recipe sounds pretty simple to do I’m not sure I want to try it . Can the rhubarb be cut up in smaller pieces to make it blend in and cook easier? Just asking it would seem to be better or would it?

    • lol. Yes, Rhubarb can be a little intimidating to work with. It’s really a pleasant flavor in this cake. The cake is very sweet and the rhubarb lends a counter flavor of tartness. It’s really perfect in this recipe. Feel free to cut the rhubarb as small as you like. Tell yourself it’s strawberries! 🙂 lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *