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Dessert, Cake /Breakfast: Grandma's Rhubarb Cake


This is a sitting-around-the-kitchen-table-with-coffee-and-chit-chat, too-good-for-frosting, after-school-with-an-icy-glass-of-milk kind of recipe.
When I was growing up, Grandma would ask me every November what kind of birthday cake I would like for her to bake. One year, when I turned ten or maybe eleven or twelve, my wish was for a rhubarb birthday cake. Well, rhubarb cake is a coffee cake, it has no peaks of fluffy frosting or tall moist layers. It wasn't a recipe ever intended to anchor bright pink happy birthday candles. Grandma made it from the long red and green rhubarb stalks she collected from her backyard garden in the late spring. It was not a fruit (or vegtable??) you can easily find in late autumn. So, Grandma understandably made me a pretty yellow layer cake with creamy fudge frosting instead. But I will always remember she also surprised me by baking a second birthday cake; rhubarb. With it's top crackle of cinnamon and glittery white sugar, and sweet-tart chunks of stringy, pink rhubarb, it was perfect.
When I was newly married she gave me the recipe for her rhubarb cake with the words, "with love to Lynnie and Bill" handwritten on the top of the recipe card. Every time I sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the batter or glance at her handwriting to check exactly how much buttermilk, I remember her and what a wonderful grandma she was.

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  • topping:
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, if desired
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups finely cut up rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


Servings 9
Cooking time 45mins


Step 1

Cream brown sugar, margarine and beaten egg. Add vanilla, sift together flour and soda and add alternately with buttermilk and blend well. Fold in rhubarb. Pour into greased and floured 9x13 cake pan. Sprinkle cinnamon topping mixture over top of cake batter.

Bake in 350 degree oven about 45 minutes.


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