Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Cake

Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Cake

It’s pretty wild to think of the evolution of recipes and how they’re shared now compared to just decades ago. I have a select few of my Nana’s recipes that she passed down, scribbled barely legibly on a branded notepad and held together with a sewing pin. The ink is fading by the day and I try to remind myself often that I need to have them copied or re-write them, lest they be gone forever. These recipes, created with family and community in mind, painstakingly recorded and tested/tweaked by the palettes of visiting guests, family and hungry children, were how food knowledge was passed along before the internet age took hold.

My generation, on the other hand, rarely looks further than internet. Between the umpteen trillion food bloggers (hi!), online cooking mags, cooking websites based on recipes from print magazines, video recipes and online cooking forums… the need for tangible books has passed. But is that really a good thing? Cookbooks are tested. Laboriously. And then tested again. And then revised. And re-tested. And revised. Buying a cookbook generally ensures no meals will be ruined in the quest for deliciousness. Online recipes, on the other hand, aren’t always tested and perfected before being shared with the world. Which isn’t to say they can’t be trusted, they may just take a bit more time to get the result you were looking for in some cases. Finding a source for online recipes that you trust is crucial in your hunt for meals worthy of your precious time and money. Failing that, turn to your favourite cookbooks and family-tested recipes handed down. They may not be perfect but each one tells a story of a time and place in your family’s past.

This Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Upside Down Rye Cake is based on an old written recipe I have for a more traditional pineapple upside down cake with some updating of ingredients and techniques. The topping is tangy and sweet which pairs incredibly well with the hearty, slightly bitter rye flour base.

Rhubarb-Vanilla Bean Upside Down Rye Cake

makes one 9″ cake

I used Stirling Creamery Churn84 European Style butter in this recipe as I wanted a rich, creamy butter for the topping and a smooth and luxurious fat for the cake. I’ve used salted and unsalted but feel free to use one or the other and adjust salt in the recipe slightly.

In the recipe I call for chopping the rhubarb into smaller chunks. This is slightly easier to work with. If you prefer the long strips like I have in the photos, cut your stalks in half lengthwise and into various sized strips no longer than 9″. Caramelized them as per recipe and then arrange in springform pan in strips.



  • 1lb rhubarb, trimmed and cut into various sized strips (no larger than 8-9″)
  • 1/4 cup Stirling Creamery Salted Butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dark rye flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 tsp PURE vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
Read the whole recipe on The Gouda Life