Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake with Orange Zest


Tender pieces of tart rhubarb balance perfectly with the brown-sugar topping of this vanilla- and orange-scented cake. Baking the cake in a cast-iron skillet helps the rhubarb caramelize, creating an unfussy but beautiful topping. To make the cake shine even more, serve it with softly whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs
8 to 10 servings


  • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, divided

  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar

  • 1 pound fresh or thawed frozen rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1.3333 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (from 1 orange)

  • 3 large eggs

  • ½ cup sour cream

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 cups (about 8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium. Transfer 1/2 cup melted butter to a small bowl; set aside. Stir brown sugar into remaining butter in skillet. Remove from heat. Scatter rhubarb pieces in a single layer over mixture in skillet.

  2. Place granulated sugar and orange zest in a large bowl. Using your fingers, rub zest into sugar until mixture is uniform in color, about 2 minutes. Add eggs to zest-sugar mixture; beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Whisk in sour cream, vanilla, and reserved 1/2 cup melted butter until combined. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Fold flour mixture into egg mixture just until combined. Spoon batter over rhubarb in skillet; smooth top using an offset spatula.

  3. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let cake cool in skillet 15 minutes. Invert cake onto a serving platter; let cool slightly, about 30 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve. Cake may be stored, covered, in refrigerator up to 3 days (remove the cake from the fridge 30 minutes before serving).

    Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
    Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall / Prop Styling by Christina Daley
Related Articles