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Dorie Greenspan’s Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake with Fresh Strawberries and Crème Fraiche

Dorie Greenspan’s Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake with Fresh Strawberries and Crème Fraiche
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Tart Rhubarb, the sweetness of Strawberries, the tang of Crème Fraiche and the warmth of brown sugar in every bite.

In the annals of Chewing the Fat, no cake comes close to having a name as long as this one.  However, I could write a new adage: ‘the longer the name, the better the cake’.  I’d be hard-pressed to find a salute to Rhubarb and Strawberry season that tasted any more delicious.   It’s from Dorie Greenspan in her masterful book “Baking Chez Moi” (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt 2014). Andrew does all the baking in our house. He tells me he’d be hard-pressed to find a writer who puts more thought into recipe directions than Ms. Greenspan. Because of that, I was amused when a blog called “That Skinny Chick can Bake” declared that this was her “Ahah! moment” with this cake: “French cooking does not necessarily mean complicated.  A simple layering of flavors can produce a masterpiece”.  So don’t be put off by the word count, this is one terrific cake. (Besides, I did cut the original down to size.)

Take advantage of the season’s Rhubarb and Strawberries and make this cake.

Right now, Rhubarb and Strawberries can be found at our Farmstand in great quantities.  They’re one of the great joys of the season and together they’re an unbeatable combination of tart and sweet.  And the color of the strawberries is a huge help in making this dessert irresistible in color.  “That Skinny Chick” calls the cake “A simple cake topped with glistening rhubarb”.  Simple?  I’ll take her word for it.  And after Andrew had peeled the rhubarb, I concede that things went a lot quicker. Here is the recipe and after it some other rhubarb and strawberry recipes.

Dorie Greenspan's Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake with Fresh Strawberries and Creme Fraiche

June 21, 2022
: 8
: 30 min
: 25 min
: 55 min
: Despite the lengthy list of ingredients, Andrew says this cake is really not that hard to bake.

Tart Rhubard, Sweet Strawberries, tangy Creme Fraiche and the warmth of brown sugar cake in every bite.


  • About 1¼ to 1½ pounds rhubarb trimmed and rinsed
  • ¾ cup sugar (1/2-cup for rhubarb, ¼ cup for caramelizing)
  • 1½ tbsp unsalted butter
  • For the Cake:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • For the Glaze:
  • Left over rhubarb syrup
  • Strawberry jam
  • For the Strawberries and Crème Fraiche:
  • 2 cups of Strawberries, hulled and cut in half.
  • 8 oz. Crème Fraiche
  • Step 1 First make the Rhubarb Topping:
  • Step 2 If your rhubarb is not young and thin, peel it.
  • Step 3 Cut the stalks into 1- inch lengths and toss them with ½ cup sugar and set them aside for 30 minutes.
  • Step 4 Drain the rhubarb and reserve the syrup to make the glaze.
  • Step 5 Butter a 9-inch round cake pan with sides at least 1½ high.
  • Step 6 Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat then stir in the sugar.
  • Step 7 When the sugar has melted and is JUST changing color add the rhubarb.
  • Step 8 Stir sparingly for about 3 minutes or until the sugar is slightly caramelized.
  • Step 9 Scrape the rhubarb and syrup into the cake pan and leave to cool.
  • Step 10 Next, make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Step 11 Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.
  • Step 12 In a large bowl whisk the eggs and brown sugar together until thick and smooth.
  • Step 13 Whisk in the zest and vanilla. Pour in the butter in 3 additions. Whisk well.
  • Step 14 Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions whisking gently.
  • Step 15 Scrape the batter into the pan over the rhubarb and put the pan onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Step 16 Bake the cake for about 25 minutes, rotating it after 12 minutes.
  • Step 17 Bake until it is golden brown, springy to the touch, and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  • Step 18 Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let rest for about 2 minutes, then run a table knife around the sides of the cake.
  • Step 19 Place the serving plate over the cake and turn the cake over onto the platter.
  • Step 20 Wait for a minute then lift off the pan.
  • Step 21 Finally, make the Glaze:
  • Step 22 Bring the reserved rhubarb syrup to a boil then reduce to a simmer until it reduces and becomes syrupy.
  • Step 23 Add a few spoonsful of strawberry jam and stir well. Gently spoon the glaze over the top of the cake.
  • Step 24 To serve the cake, add strawberries to the cake plate, dollop with Crème Fraiche, and serve.



Gingered Strawberry Rhubarb Pie adapted from Molly Birnbaum

Melissa Clark’s Rhubarb Custard Bars

Cinnamon Rhubarb Muffins from Fine Cooking Magazine


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