Tang!: Rhubarb Sourdough Coffeecake

Our faithful rhubarb patch.

It's not because of its sweetness that some people really like rhubarb. When I say really like I mean obsessively like. No, it has more to do with its tang, its tingle, its pucker power. 

Everybody issues a warning so I will too. Don't eat the leaves.
We harvest rhubarb for a few weeks each spring when the stalks are about a half inch thick. When we purchased our home, more than 25 years ago, it came with a clump of rhubarb. We have never had to replace it. Last fall at the end of back-to-back summers of brutal heat and drought, it didn't look so good. But it has returned this spring looking just fine. Maybe it will keep going for another 25 years.

I only serve this in the spring, during rhubarb season.

One of my favorite ways to serve rhubarb is Rhubarb Sourdough Coffeecake. It has a nice balance of tang and sweetness with a moist cake and crisp sugary topping. If you love rhubarb, you will love this cake. Even if you aren't all that wild about rhubarb, I think (because I've served it to a few family members who aren't rhubarb fans) that you will enjoy it anyway. And because I know that not everyone has sourdough, I will include recipe adjustments so that you can make it without sourdough if you desire. 

Rhubarb Sourdough Coffeecake
(for a printable recipe, click here)

The cast of ingredients for the cake
For Cake:
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup fresh sourdough
1/2 cup milk
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped rhubarb

For Crisp Topping
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, if desired

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9X9 inch  or a 7X11 pan with cooking oil spray. 

For Cake:
I used 5 stalks of rhubarb. It was a little over 2 cups but I used it all.
Chop rhubarb into about 1/4 inch cubes. Cream together butter, sugar and egg. Add flour, baking powder and salt. As you are mixing in the dry ingredients, pour in the milk and sourdough. Blend well. Stir in rhubarb. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

For Crisp Topping:
Mix together well and sprinkle over batter in the pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned.

To make without sourdough:
Increase milk to 3/4 cup, flour to 1 1/2 cups and baking powder to 2 teaspoons. Omit sourdough. Combine as directed above.
Where else can you find Rhubarb Sourdough Coffeecake except in your own kitchen?

Interested in learning more about sourdough? Here are a few links to other posts which include more information about sourdough. (Both links also include sourdough recipes.)
Some notes about sourdough
 How to get some sourdough.
 (You can also find more of my recipes if you check out my Recipes on pages located beneath the sign)


  1. This looks good. I've never tried to grow rhubarb before. We can't seem to find it in the stores here.
    Maybe next year.

    Wishes for tasty dishes,

  2. What do you mean by 1/2 c fresh sourdough?

    1. Perhaps I should have said refreshed sourdough. It is sourdough that has been recently fed with equal amounts of flour and water, usually the day before or a few hours before using. It's not absolutely necessary that it be refreshed. If you don't have sourdough, the post does include directions to make this without sourdough.

  3. I made this today and it was doughy. Should I have sifted the flour before adding to recipe? Also should I let the mix sit for a while to activate sourdough starter before cooking?

  4. You may simply need to bake the cake a little longer. Ovens vary and my oven (which is ancient) tends to bake things faster than most. The rhubarb does make for a very moist cake and that might not be what you like. I don't think you can go wrong by letting the mix stand for awhile before baking to activate the sourdough but it is not necessary. I never sift flour for this recipe. I hope you will try some of the other sourdough recipes on this blog. The Sourdough Banana Bread is especially good.


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