Upside Down Rhubarb Cake (Gluten-free)

It is the giving of attention – that keeps us awake. 
Mark Nepo
In Spring, one of the first things to poke their arms out of the ground are the rosy colored stocks of rhubarb. Their tart stocks surprisingly have many uses in the kitchen- but what they are most known for, is pie.  Rhubarb is also called the “pie plant”- and paired with strawberries, berries, or apples, rhubarb is often thought of as a fruit – but in actuality rhubarb is a vegetable, in the same family as sorrel.

Rhubarb’s flavor and aroma hint of tart apples, berries, and more subtler notes of water and fresh green grass. In this flour-less upside down cake, I resisted the temptation to add berries or other fruit, in order to highlight rhubarb’s true flavor. The bright liveliness of the rhubarb is front and center, the sourness mellowed slightly with vanilla and butter, while the base of the cake, made entirely of almond meal and no flour, whispers of cardamon. To my palate, the combination delights.


It starts with four cups of fresh rhubarb stocks, cut into ½ inch cubes.
In a heavy bottom skillet, melt butter, and add rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir until combined and sugar has dissolved, but do not cook the rhubarb, it will cook in the oven.


Make the batter.

Separate the yolks from the whites. Mix the yolks with sugar and lemon zest, and combine with dry ingredients. Whip the whites, and then combine all to create a batter.

Pour the almond flour batter over the rhubarb.

Bake in a 375 F oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
It will be fragrant and golden brown. Immediately invert onto a platter.
Let stand 10 minutes before cutting, to let it set.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream.



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Gluten Free Upside down Rhubarb Cake
by sylvia fountaine- feasting at home blog April-26-2014

4 C cups rhubarb, cut into ½ inch cubes ( about 1 ¼ lb)
1 1/4 cup sugar -divided
4 tbsp butter
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
4 eggs, separated into 4 egg yolks and 4 egg whites, room temperature
zest from one lemon
¼ teaspoon cardamon
1 1/2 cups finely ground almond flour or meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon white or cider vinegar
Powdered sugar for sprinkling

375 F Oven

Over medium heat, melt butter in a 9 inch cast iron skillet, and brush the sides with it. Add rhubarb, ¾ C sugar, lemon juice, 2tsp vanilla and pinch salt and stir for 2 minutes, just until combined and sugar has dissolved. Turn heat off. Do not continue to cook rhubarb. (You can either bake the cake right in the same skillet, or transfer to a parchment lined and buttered 9 inch spring form pan.)

In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks with lemon zest, cardamon and ¼ C sugar, until creamy and sugar has dissolved. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk almond flour, pinch salt, and baking powder until combined.

Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir to incorporate. You will have a very thick heavy batter at this point.

In a stand mixer, whip egg whites on medium high speed, and once you see bubbles, add a pinch of salt and tsp vinegar . Whip until egg whites have formed soft peaks, then add remaining ¼ C sugar a little at a time whipping until medium stiff peaks form. Turn speed to down to medium low and begin spooning in the flour – egg yolk batter, a heaping spoonful at a time, into the egg whites, until it is all combined, scraping downs sides as necessary.

Pour batter over rhubarb in the skillet ( or in a spring form pan) and place in a preheated oven, for 30 minutes. While baking, make sure to have ready, what you plan to flip the cake on to. At 30 minutes, check for doneness by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. If not, bake a bit longer. Pull from the oven and immediately place a cake platter or cake stand over the skillet, and invert, gently tapping the bottom of the skillet so it releases. ( NOTE: If using a spring form pan, let cool before removing sides and flipping. ) Let it cool 10 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream or on its own. The cake is especially good the next day.


Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6-8

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  1. says

    This sounds literally amazing, I adore almond cake so much and the tender sweetness of the almond must bring the rhubarb to life!

  2. A Nickerson says

    Just made this – very tasty! Mine was quite moist (almost soggy) but I’m not that talented when it comes to baking. Still, I’m keeping the recipe and using it every rhubarb season! Yuuummm

  3. MillieJ says

    This cake looks wonderful! I am wondering about the 2 tsp vanilla. In the ingredients list it says “divided”, but in Step 1 you say to use all the vanilla with the rhubarb and you don’t mention using vanilla later on in the batter. Which part is correct?

  4. Ruthie says

    Hi, I just made this – and it is really good. I’ve been gluten free for about 3 1/2 months and haven’t had too many successes with GF breads/treats, but this is great! My husband who doesn’t eat GF really said it was really delicious and just went for seconds! I worried that when I flipped it over out of the pan that the juicy rhubarb would make the cake soggy – and it did a bit, but not too bad at all. I served it with a little vanilla ice cream.

    I would love to make just an almond cake too – I love the flavor of this (first time trying almond flour) – have you ever tried just making the cake in the skillet? I wonder if it would come out easy enough…?

    Anyway, thank you for the recipe. I like to come back and actually give my results to help others – sometimes there isn’t enough feedback on what others actually experienced.

    • Sylvia Fountaine says

      Hi Ruthie,
      Thanks so much for your feedback…it really does help others to know that a recipe is successful.
      All the best to you on your journey and thanks for visiting the blog.

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