This vegan buttermilk rhubarb cake makes for such an amazing treat! It is super moist, soft, very flavorful and easy to make. The tart flavor from the rhubarb is perfectly balanced with sweet maple syrup and hints of vanilla flavor. Perfect fruity cake for the afternoon tea break and it is made completely vegan, egg-free and dairy-free.
Here is an amazing seasonal dessert to make in the spring: vegan buttermilk rhubarb cake. It is super moist, slightly tart, perfectly sweet and pretty healthy too!
Once the fresh rhubarb stalks come out, I have huge memories popping up in my mind: me and my family eating rhubarb completely raw by the stalk dipped in white sugar with bare feet on our front porch and the warm sun on our faces.
Well, times have changed and I am not sure that I am into raw rhubarb or white sugar that much anymore. But, I still adore rhubarb and I love how it symbolizes the beginning of spring and summer.
Now, I'll usually make a huge batch of rhubarb compote to generously smother over oatmeal (check out my rhubarb barley oatmeal recipe) or if I have a few extra minutes, then I'll make my vegan rhubarb crumble, which my kids go completely nuts for.
But now, this vegan rhubarb cake is a must during rhubarb season. It is a fairly easy cake to prepare that can be all done in under 1 hour without any weird or complicated ingredients. The flavor is simple and focused on the unique tartness from the rhubarb that's complemented by sweet maple syrup.
It is packed with vibrant tart rhubarb (2 cups total!), which makes this cake very flavorful and also, beautiful and very appetizing. While baking, the pieces of rhubarb become super soft and gooey, creating a bunch of small pockets filled with a rhubarb compote that's so addictive.
The cake also features a homemade vegan buttermilk (simply made by whisking plant milk + lemon juice) that also helps keep the cake super moist, rich and tender. The extra acidity from the lemon juice helps puff the cake by interacting with the baking soda and makes the overall texture more delicate. It is hard to resist not having a second slice!
This cake makes for the most amazing buttermilk-like cake to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon, what a treat! It really isn’t too tart either, our kids adored this cake and we went through it all within the same day!
Let me know if you gave it a try! ❤️
Highlights of this recipe
- Perfect balance of sweet vs tart flavors
- Ultra moist and soft cake that's topped with a contrasting caramelized crust
- No unusual ingredients
- Healthier recipe made without any refined oil or butter (no vegan butter either)
- Quick and easy to prepare
- Tasty way to make the most of the rhubarb season
- Will remind you of a classic buttermilk cake texture
- Uses maple syrup and no refined white sugar
- 100% vegan, dairy-free and made without eggs
Ingredients you'll need
- All-purpose flour: I haven't tried making this cake using other kinds of flour, so try not to swap this ingredient. That being said, usually you can swap up to 50% of the amount of regular flour for a whole wheat flour without changing much the texture of a recipe, so you might try this to make this recipe even healthier.
- Fresh rhubarb: you will need 2 cups of chopped rhubarb, which is about 3-4 stalks. If possible, look for bright looking rhubarb stalks that are not bruised and that feel firm when touching. Also, thinner long stalks are usually more tender and sweeter.
- Plant-based milk: I love to bake using oat milk (I used the oat milk from the brand Oatly), but feel-free to use any plant-based milk you prefer.
- Lemon: adding a small amount of lemon juice to plant-based milk creates a buttermilk-like mixture.
- Maple syrup: do not swap for granulated sugar. I love how maple syrup adds an amazing sweet caramel-like flavor to the cake.
- Baking powder and baking soda: leveling agents.
- Vanilla extract: adds flavor to the white cake and pairs so well with rhubarb.
- Brown sugar: although optional, you can sprinkle some brown sugar over the cake before baking to add more sweetness and to help caramelize the top.
- + salt
How to make a vegan rhubarb cake
This cake is ultra easy and perfect for the beginner baker!
Pre-heat the oven to 350º and also, line a circular piece of parchment paper to place at the bottom of a 9 inches non-stick spring form pan (also used to make cheesecakes).
Prepare the rhubarb
Clean and remove the edges of your stalks of rhubarb. Also, remove bruised spots, if any.
Then, if your rhubarb stalks are not very young (for example, if they were harvested later in the summer) or feel tougher, then you can also remove their outer peel by pulling on them. You can also read this article on "How to prepare rhubarb" to get more information that might help you.
Then, chop the rhubarb in small cubes.
Make the batter
In a medium bowl, combine the plant-based milk with the lemon juice, maple syrup and vanilla extract and stir to combine.
Then, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
Pour the wet ingredient into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined without overmixing.
Incorporate the rhubarb into the batter by folding in the fruit (again, without overmixing the batter).
Pour the batter into your prepared baking dish and then, sprinkle some brown sugar over (optional).
Bake in the oven for 37-42 minutes, which will vary depending on your oven. You can check for doneness after 35 minutes if you know your oven is stronger and use a toothpick: it should come out clean without any raw batter sticking to it.
Once done, let the cake cool down almost completely before taking it out of the baking dish. The cake will slice better when not steamy hot. Enjoy!
- If you don't want to have your cake become super moist and soft, then you can toss the cubes of rhubarb into about 1-2 tablespoons of flour before adding to the batter. This will help absorb some of the moisture released by the fruit while baking.
- I recommend to measure the ingredients, especially the flour, using the spoon and level method. This way, you will have a more accurate amount of flour to prevent the cake from turning too dry or the opposite, soggy.
- If you don't have a spring form pan, then you can use a different dish as well! A circular pie dish or even a square baking dish (also about 9 inch wide) would also work out. The size of your dish is important, so you will need to adjust cooking time accordingly and check on doneness using a toothpick. If your cake ends up being thicker in the dish you are using, then it will need to cook for longer!
- You may want to use an electric mixer to mix the batter and ensure there are no clumps of flour, although be sure not to overmix it so the cake doesn’t become tough in texture.
- If you need to bake the cake for longer, but you don't want the top of the cake to become more brown, then simply cover with a piece of aluminum foil and keep baking until done.
This is a sweet and tart cake that makes for the best healthy snack to enjoy mid afternoon with a cup of tea. It is delicious with a stunning appearance, making it an amazing cake to make for friends or family, whether they are vegan or not. You can warm up the cake slightly using the microwave and pair with a cup of lavender milk tea or warm peanut butter coffee for such a perfect treat.
Also, rhubarb pairs well with ginger, so if you have some ginger tea, then brew a cup to enjoy with your cake. I love these ginger tea bags from the brand Yogi or also, this lemongrass ginger homemade tea would be perfect paired with this rhubarb cake.
If enjoying for dessert, then feel-free to serve topped with a scoop of vegan ice cream or coconut whipped cream. Or, drizzle a cashew icing over to add sweetness. You can also dollop a generous amount of vegan custard over each serving for a classic pairing of flavors.
Variations to the recipe
I love vanilla paired with rhubarb, which I think works amazing in this recipe. But, you can add other flavoring ingredients or simply swap the vanilla for something else, such as:
- Cinnamon: add a pinch of cinnamon to the batter or simply sprinkle some over the cake before baking.
- Ginger: include a small amount of powdered ginger or add a small handful of chopped candied ginger.
- Strawberries: use half rhubarb and half strawberries, which can be a great option if you are sensitive to the tart flavor from rhubarb or want to add more natural sweetness.
- Orange: add some orange zest to the batter for a mild zesty flavor that would pair well with rhubarb.
- Almonds: chopped almonds incorporated into the cake batter would add some interesting texture to an otherwise soft cake. You can also top the cake with slivered almonds before baking for a nice finish.
- Flavoring extract: try swapping the vanilla extract for a touch of almond extract instead. Use about half of the vanilla amount and also add some slivered almonds over your cake before baking.
As a side note, if you are not into rhubarb, then feel-free to swap the fruit for something else, such as blueberries, pear, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, peaches, pineapple, plum, etc.
This cake is at its best when enjoyed within 24 hours. After this, the cake absorbs more of the moisture from the fruit, making it even softer.
Keep the leftovers in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. You can heat it in the microwave just for a few seconds before serving if you want.
You can also freeze this cake for up to 3 months!
You can use green rhubarb, although the cake might end up being less sweet. Stalks of rhubarb that are green tend to be more sour and less sweet than the red ones, so to compensate, I would recommend to do half rhubarb + half strawberries to ensure the cake has great flavor.
If you are craving a rhubarb cake but it isn’t rhubarb season yet, then yes, swap for frozen rhubarb. You might be able to find some in your grocery store but also, you can freeze some rhubarb yourself in the spring and use it all year around. To make the cake using frozen rhubarb, then be sure to thaw the fruit completely before using and discard the excess liquid or moisture from the thawing process so the cake isn’t too soft.
I haven’t tried it yet, but usually you can swap a regular flour for a certified GF flour without much difference in texture.
More vegan cake recipes to try
- Vegan plum cake
- Vegan black forest cake
- Dairy-free blueberry cheesecake
- Vegan banana mug cake
- Vegan banana brownies
- Carrot cupcakes
- Vegan chocolate orange cake
- Lemon blueberry mug cake
- Vegan pineapple upside down cake
- Vegan blueberry cobbler
I hope you enjoy this vegan rhubarb cake recipe as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Vegan Buttermilk Rhubarb Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 ¼ cup plant-based milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- ¾ cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups rhubarb - cleaned and chopped
- 1 tbsp coconut or brown sugar - to sprinkle over the cake before baking
- Pre-heat the oven to 350º and cover the bottom of a 9 inches spring form pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine the plant-based milk, lemon juice, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until mostly combined (do not overmix)
- Add the pieces of rhubarb to the batter and stir to incorporate them.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle some brown sugar over the top.
- Bake in the oven for 37-42 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool down before unmolding and slicing. Enjoy!
- Storage: this cake is at its best when enjoyed within 24 hours, although leftovers are great too. Keep them in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can reheat briefly before enjoying. You can also freeze it.
- Variations: feel-free to add cinnamon, powdered ginger or chopped almonds to your cake recipe. You can also use half rhubarb + half strawberries if you like this combo in flavors. See the blog post for more ideas!