Rye & Rhubarb Anytime Cake

May  7, 2021
13 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 8 to 10
Author Notes

Inspired by Bon Appétit's Chocolate Rye Crumb Cake: Jampel

What You'll Need
  • For the rhubarb compote:
  • 1 pound rhubarb (about 4 large stalks), roughly chopped into small pieces (about 1/4-inch big)
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar (use less sugar if you want a more tart cake)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • For the cake:
  • 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (3 5/8 ounces) rye flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Juice from 1/2 an orange, plus enough milk to equal 1 cup total of liquid
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)
  1. Make the compote. Combine all of the compote ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the rhubarb has mostly broken down, the raisins are fat, and most of the liquid has absorbed. This can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes (or more) depending on heat of your burner and your impatience. If your mixture starts to get dry, add a small amount of water. When the compote is finished, set it aside and make the cake batter.
  2. A note about the rhubarb compote: When I first made this at home, I cut the rhubarb stalks into 1/4- to 1/2-inch chunks and cooked the compote for 15 to 20 minutes, uncovered, so that most of the liquid evaporated. The texture was more jammy than soupy—it was thick and I had to rap the spoon with some force to transfer it onto the cake batter. If your compote looks liquidy but has been cooking forever, put it through a fine mesh strainer to separate any excess liquid. And if your compote is still very liquidy, you might not want to use all of it on the cake—the excess moisture might make your cake gooey on the inside (which is delicious, but not to everyone's taste). In this case, use half of it.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350° F and butter an 9-inch springform pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: all-purpose flour through salt.
  4. In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or creaming vigorously with a wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the almond extract and mix to incorporate.
  6. With the mixer on low, add 1/3 of the flour mixture. Once it is just incorporated, add 1/2 of the orange juice and milk mixture. Add another 1/3 of the flour, the remaining milk, and then the last of the flour. Mix just to combine.
  7. Use a spatula to transfer the batter to the pan. Spoon the compote over top of the batter, then swirl it in, leaving some big compote clumps.
  8. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the cake is golden brown on top and the edges are starting to pull away from the sides. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack, then turn it out onto a plate and then invert it once more. Serve it warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Callan Carow
    Callan Carow
  • Gretchen @ Backyardnotes
    Gretchen @ Backyardnotes
  • Lindsay Christians
    Lindsay Christians
  • Sarah Marx
    Sarah Marx
  • Sarah Jampel
    Sarah Jampel

41 Reviews

Lynn D. February 5, 2022
I wonder how this would be with buckwheat flour? Rhubarb and buckwheat are related.
SPark0101 May 7, 2021
Tasty, but very rich and sweet. I think I'll try again with less butter and sugar.
Callan C. April 21, 2021
I made this cake to take advantage of rhubarb season, and it did not disappoint! The cake itself had a nice light crumb, with great flavor from the rye and rhubarb.
I made a few changes to the rhubarb compote - left out the raisins since I didn't have any, and substituted the white wine with 1/4 cup fresh orange juice + 1/4 cup orange liqueur + 1/2 cup water. I also reduced the sugar in the compote to 2/3 cup because of the sweetness from the orange liqueur. I cooked the compote for a full 30 minutes to get it to a jammy consistency (it also thickened slightly as it cooled). If I made this again, I think I could maybe reduce the amount of liquid in order to achieve the same result. I only swirled about half the compote into the cake because I was concerned it might all sink to the bottom, but in hindsight I think I could've easily used it all!
Beckista May 23, 2019
Just made it this afternoon and had it with some cardamom coffee, a total win! I did drain the compote as indicated (and poured the remaining syrup onto some fresh strawberries for dessert) which worked wonders. The resulting cake is moist but not gooey. Baked it for 60 minutes at 190°C (my oven runs a bit cold). It was hard not to eat any after taking it out of the oven!
Sarah J. May 23, 2019
kaleandsalt May 29, 2018
This cake was wildly popular in my household - between the two of them, my partner and our roommate ate over half the cake in under half an hour. I was worried it would turn out liquidy from the other comments (even though I had a nice stiff batter), so I baked for 65 minutes and think it came out a little dry - I'll definitely pull it about 10 minutes earlier next time, and maybe be a little more generous with the compote. I think I'll leave out the raisins, just because they didn't add much for me, and maybe sub in some fresh strawberries for a brighter flavor. Overall, absolutely delicious and a total keeper.
TAM September 18, 2017
This was excellent! I did futz with the compote a bit (frozen raspberries instead of raisins), so was grateful for point 2/the compote note, and wish I had read Spatzl's comment and thought to put a baking sheet underneath the pan to catch the few drips I had, but this is definitely going in the keeper file.
Spatzl June 11, 2017
I thought the batter a little thin to put in a springform, but I did any way. I lost about 1/4 cup of batter to the oven. I swirled but perhaps not enough as the whole compote layer sunk into the cake. I thought a crumble on top of the compote might be nice and that too disappeared into the cake. Now I'm 45 min into baking time. and the edges are nice and brown but the centre is nowhere near set. *fingers crossed* 😉
Sarah J. June 11, 2017
Seems like your cake is probably finished now! But you can definitely cover the edges with foil and keep baking if the inside is not cooking as quickly. I'd also recommend letting the cake cool completely, for several hours!, before you slice. Hope it's good!
Spatzl June 11, 2017
Had to bake it for 65 min. The top was a beautiful brown and wonderfully crispy from the sugar. The compote had mostly sunk to the bottom - almost an upside down cake. ;-) Wonderfully moist! Lovely flavour! I am not a fan of raisins & rhubarb so I switched them out for dried cherries with a vanilla bean when cooking the compote. Very good! Loved the touch of almond in the cake! I might cut back on the liquid a little or perhaps use sour cream instead of milk to make the batter a little thicker. Definitely a keeper. :-)
Spatzl June 12, 2017
I take back what I said about reducing the liquid. After it cooled it was still very moist, but the second day the texture is perfect! This cake recipe presents unlimited possibilities. Bitter orange marmalade, apple, spice, pumpkin. The rye adds a nice mellowness. Lovely!
Sarah J. June 12, 2017
Bitter orange marmalade sounds delightful!
Bakezoid July 22, 2015
Just made this for the second time. Substitutes chopped dates for raisins, brown sugar for turbinado and white for brown. I live in a rural area and work with what I have and what's available. The up side is plenty of. Homegrown rhubarb! Found the recipe easy to follow (thanks for the flour by weight) and the cake delicious.
Albert July 20, 2015
I am using a pound of rhubarb.
David Y. June 6, 2015
Just wondering if it matters whether you use sweet white wine like german white wine or a dry white wine ???
Z May 28, 2015
Is it okay to substitute the turbinado sugar with another? Could anyone recommend which would be most suitable? Maybe dark or light brown or golden caster? Thanks.
Sarah J. June 1, 2015
I think golden caster sugar would make the best substitute.
Z June 1, 2015
Thank you! I made it today and it turned out beautifully. Will definitely make it again!
Sarah J. June 1, 2015
So glad to hear it!
Jacqueline S. May 26, 2015
Don't worry about the recipe so much. Improvise. That is half the fun!
Gretchen @. May 26, 2015
I agree with rpkc15–something is missing here. I did follow the recipe exactly, with the exception of the compote–I used all but 2 cups as it seemed too much for the cake batter. The cake baked for 60-65 minutes, tested done within 2-3" of the center but was runny with cake batter in the center when cut. (The cake looked beautiful when removed from the oven, just like the photo accompanying the recipe. I used an 8 inch springform pan) The overall flavor was good and I will try it again using only 1 cup of the compote. And the compote itself is delicious; I added a spoonful to my yogurt this morning!
Sarah J. May 26, 2015
Hi Gretchen,

I commented on the compote in the article on the cake. When I first made this at home, I cut the rhubarb stalks into 1/4- to 1/2-inch chunks and cooked the compote for 15 to 20 minutes, uncovered, so that most of the liquid evaporated. The texture was more jammy than soupy—it was thick and I had to rap the spoon with some force to transfer it onto the cake batter. If your compote is much more liquidy, you might not want to use all of it on the cake—the excess moisture might make your cake gooey on the inside (which is delicious, but not to everyone's taste).

You might also try halving the compote!
Gretchen @. May 26, 2015
Thank you, Sarah, for your comments.
I too, cut into approximately 1/2" pieces and cooked until very thick and jammy consistency and used a little more than half of the compote. so not sure where I went wrong, but as I said will try it again. And it should work with just about any type of preserved fruit, I think.
Gretchen @. May 26, 2015
P.S. Two people at the table last night were happy to take home the leftover cake! They liked the gooey consistency.
Sarah J. May 28, 2015
I also like the gooey consistency! But when I've made it, cooking down the rhubarb compote eliminates this gooeyness issue!
Lindsay C. June 8, 2015
I had exactly the same issue. Cake overflowed the pan and got really gooey inside. And even though I cooked my compote for a fairly long time, enough to make it much less liquidy, it turned out to be too much for the cake.

The flavors were wonderful, though. I blame the problems I had with me not trusting my own instincts about both the amount of compote and the size of the pan.
Lindsay C. June 8, 2015
I mean the same issues as below (rpkc15).
rpkc15 May 25, 2015
This recipe clearly needs correction. I didn't use 2 pounds of rhubarb (but about 1 1/2 pounds) and I still had a huge amount of compote. The cake batter & compote do NOT fit in an 8 inch round pan. I should have used my common sense and tried a springform pan. Lots of good ingredients but quite a mess. I might try again if a correction is posted. First recipe I've had a big issue with on this site.
Sarah J. May 26, 2015
Hi rpck15,

So sorry about your trouble! The cake should be baked in a 9-inch springform pan—I'm so sorry about the mistake and am correcting the recipe! I've also made the cake successfully with half of the compote in a standard 8-inch pan.

Please read my note about the compote in the article and in response to Gretchen, above.
Lindsay C. May 25, 2015
I've got four large stalks of rhubarb -- but it's only a pound. Thinking to add raspberries (fresh) at the end for a little more fruit flavor and hope for the best?
rpkc15 May 25, 2015
does this really use 2 pounds of rhubarb? I'm still chopping and that's way more than 2 stalks. No one has commented on it, so I'm going to assume it's correct, but it seems like a lot.
Chris G. May 24, 2015
I'm guessing that this cake is made with the dark rye flour(?), instead of the light rye flour that is normally used in ("light") caraway rye bread??? Or would it make a difference?
Jane May 23, 2015
Can you use regular or brown sugar instead of turbinado?
Judy K. May 20, 2015
I made this cake using coconut flour instead of rye and pomegranate berries instead of rains. That's What I had. like also topped it with chopped pecans. After cooling I chilled it and took to an office luncheon. The entire staff couldn't stop talking and raving about the incredible cake. I'm still passing out this recipe and they asked for it again this week.
Sarah M. May 13, 2015
What a great idea to put rye flour in a cake! And now I have a reason to purchase those ungainly stalks.