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Rhubarb season sometimes arrives unexpectedly. It can make an appearance during that period when it is officially Spring, and yet there are days so chilly that you wish for your Winter coat.

And so it was this year. My phone's weather app is sending me frost warnings in May, but a friendly local farmer gifts me free rhubarb, so I head to the kitchen. I have a stack of rhubarb recipes, but this is the best coffee cake. The recipe come from Canadian Living (2005). They posted it online with a few changes.

Food Bloggers of Canada has shared 36 rhubarb recipes that are not crumbles or crisps. Check it out if you are enjoying a bounty of rhubarb. Don't forget - you can freeze rhubarb and many recipes (like this one) invite you to add the rhubarb frozen - not thawed.

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Getting Ready:

  • preheat oven to 350 F degrees
  • grease/butter 9” or 10" spring form pan
  • bring eggs and butter to room temperature
  • chop rhubarb - I do 1/3" to 1/2" pieces
  • measure out buttermilk - or "make substitute" if there's none on hand (see Notes)

½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup chopped hazelnuts, or sliced almonds (see Notes)
1 TB all purpose flour
½ tsp cinnamon
2 TB melted butter    

The topping is the last thing you need, but I like to prep it right away and then things move along very quickly.

Combine dry ingredients. Stir in butter until blended and crumbly. By the time you need the topping it may have set a bit, but is is easy to crumble.


2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 t baking powder
½ tsp salt

Whisk together in separate bowl. Set aside.


½ cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla    

Beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, and beat in vanilla. (In truth, I don't always find that the butter + sugar gets light and fluffy as it should - no idea about the physics on this - so I add one egg and it does get light and fluffy and then I add the other egg.) Don't forget the vanilla, or try 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond extract.


1 cup buttermilk (don't have any? See Notes)

2 cups chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen - see Notes)

Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, (3 flour, 2 buttermilk)

Fold in chopped rhubarb. Sprinkle with topping

Bake in the centre of your oven preheated to 350 F until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. The original recipe says about 1 ¼ hours (using a 9" pan), but I use a 10" and check at 50 minutes. It has always been done by 55-60 minutes in my experience. Let cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes. Remove side of pan. Serve warm or cool.


Notes and Tips...

  • Baking pan - recipes often call for a 9" spring form. I have two spring forms, but they are both 10" - not sure I have ever seen a 9"! Anyhow, the fact that I use a 10" pan may explain why my bake time is shorter
  • Buttermilk - If you have none on hand then add 1 TB of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk and let it sit for at least 5 minutes.
  • Rhubarb - Fresh or frozen; frozen should not be thawed first.
  • Nuts - I tend to use almonds since often have them on hand, but hazelnuts are great. In the online version of this recipe they suggest using a combo of both - and in fact they double the amounts - 1/4 cup each of almonds and hazelnuts.
  • For KB Recipe Attribution Practices please click here.

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