This Rhubarb-Ginger Coffee Cake Is 100% Relationship Goals

A cup of joe is all you need to go with.

May 21, 2019
Photo by Ty Mecham. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.

Strawberries and rhubarb have a relationship that I imagine all other produce are jealous of. Together they’re an incomparable couple. Simply put, they’re the fruit world’s version of #relationshipgoals.

But what you might not realize is that rhubarb, like its more popular counterpart, is just as good on its own as it is in a pair.

In order to give ‘barb it’s moment we need to do some conscious uncoupling. Sorry, berries. (It’s not you, it’s me. See you on a shortcake.)

Now, you may not be able to pick a stalk of rhubarb out of the ground and take a big bite like you would a ripe strawberry (I tried this as a kid and, trust me, it’s not great). But with a little assistance, rhubarb can assume the role it’s long deserved as the star of its own dessert.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I like to make my Mom's rhubarb coffee cake, with sliced rhubarb added to the sweet cake batter, but I am going to try it with that ginger-cardamom crumble instead of the usual cinnamon streusel!”
— Noreen F.

Since rhubarb is naturally very tart, it requires plenty of sugar to make it palatable. It’s also a vegetable (technically not a fruit) high in water content, which needs to be taken into consideration when baking with it.

So, to get things started, I cooked down my rhubarb haul into a jam with plenty of sugar and a touch of cornstarch. Once thickened and cooled, the blush sauce is just as tart as it is sweet, making it the perfect addition to a classic coffee cake.

I realize that a fruit component isn’t typically common in a coffee cake, but I find that adding a bright jammy layer to the buttery rich base makes it even better than the original (not to mention it gives it a killer pink hue).

When it comes to coffee cake, the crumbier, the better—in my crumble opinion. To complement the flavor of the rhubarb, I swapped the traditional cinnamon-y crumb with a version that’s spiced with ground cardamom and ginger. The ginger adds warmth while the cardamon gives the crumb an almost lemony twist that pairs perfectly with the jammy rhubarb layer. I also doubled up on the crumb layer because, in this instance, “crumby” is a good thing.

The end result is a beautifully balanced cake, toppling with crunchy spiced crumb that brings out the best in rhubarb—not to mention a great excuse to eat cake for breakfast.

A cup of coffee is all you need to go with.

What's your favorite thing to cook with rhubarb? Let us know in the comments below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • delicia.sampson.7
  • jpriddy
  • Noreen Fish
    Noreen Fish
  • Eric Kim
    Eric Kim
Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning producer, recipe developer and food writer. His favorite food is chocolate chip cookies (with salt.)


delicia.sampson.7 May 27, 2019
Baked this last night to have this morning. I had to make it in a 10” pan, so I shortened the baking time to 45 minutes. Also the store that I went to did not have buttermilk, so I used Kefir instead. I enjoyed the cake very much.
I have some ideas I’ll try next time I make it. I’m thinking to add sliced almonds to the crumble topping, and to the batter add some crystallized ginger.
jpriddy May 25, 2019
My favorite use of rhubarb is rhubarb tart—no other fruit. A short crust, rhubarb with sugar, a bit of yogurt, eggs. I sprinkle the top with a tablespoon of sugar and grill it till it bubbles and barely wants to caramelize.

For a pie with crust, I prefer raspberry/rhubarb. I have four rhubarb plants in my garden. When I put one in my mother's garden (she hated growing edible food!) she became so fond of its enormous leaves that she about had a fit when I pulled four stalks for a pie. The plants was not noticeably smaller.
Noreen F. May 22, 2019
I like to make my Mom's rhubarb coffee cake, with sliced rhubarb added to the sweet cake batter, but I am going to try it with that ginger-cardamom crumble instead of the usual cinnamon streusel!
Eric K. May 22, 2019
This was SO delicious, Grant. I adore rhubarb.