5 years ago

Brown Butter Rhubarb Cake with Crumb Topping

This mouthwatering new cake recipe from Twin Cities food blogger greens & chocolate is a wonderful way to use rhubarb, which is in season right now.


Slowly but surely, spring seems to be creeping into Minnesota, which only means one thing: bring on the spring produce! Okay, maybe it also means it’s time for patio sitting, walks around the lakes, leisurely bike rides and lots and lots of yard work, but in my mind, it’s all about the food.

It’s also a nostalgic time for me, as it brings back memories of picking peas, asparagus, green onions and rhubarb from my grandma’s garden. I remember thinking it was so funny how asparagus just grew straight up from the ground and how fun it was to snap the ends off the peas.

I also remember really not understanding the appeal of rhubarb. I think it stems from one of my older cousins having me take a bite of it raw, which is quite sour, and after that I didn’t have any interest in rhubarb crisp or cake.

Of course I came around and sometime in high school I tried my grandma’s rhubarb cake and life was never the same. I’ll be a rhubarb lover until the end of time. My grandma’s rhubarb cake recipe was quite simple, which of course is what made it so dang good, and let the rhubarb be the star of the show.

I like to keep my rhubarb cake pretty simple too, but this time I went ahead and changed one minor detail: I browned the butter.

If you’ve never browned butter, you are in for a major treat. The process of browning it (which really just involves letting it melt over the stove and cooking it until it develops little brown specs in it and you are overcome with a nutty buttery smell…OMG) gives the butter a toasted flavor that, in my opinion, takes baked goods from great to incredible.

That is exactly the case in this brown butter rhubarb cake. Even Marc, my chocolate and peanut butter dessert-loving husband, was blown away at how much he loved this rhubarb-studded cake.

We ate this for dessert but since it’s topped with a crumb topping, it could even be pulled off for breakfast as a coffee cake. Isn’t it great how adding more butter and sugar to something suddenly qualifies it as breakfast?


For the cake:

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
2 cups chopped rhubarb

For the crumb topping:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9″ round or square baking pan.
  2. In small saucepan, add butter over medium heat.
  3. Melt the butter, and then continue to cook and stir with a wooden spoon as the butter begins to foam, and ultimately turns from yellow to light brown and then finally an amber color. It will also release that deliciously nutty aroma. It is best to use a light colored pan so you can see the changes. Immediately remove from heat.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  5. In a large bowl with electric mixer, beat together the brown butter and sugar until well combined, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Add vanilla.
  7. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/3 of the buttermilk. Repeat with remaining flour and buttermilk until all is used, stirring until just combined. Don’t over mix.
  8. Fold in rhubarb. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  9. Make the crumb topping by combining butter, flour, brown sugar and salt, and mixing until butter is dispersed and the consistency is crumbly. I use my fingers to do this but you can use a fork if you don’t want to get messy.
  10. Top cake with crumb topping. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, until tester comes out clean. Let cool completely. Cut into slices and enjoy!