In late spring and early summer we cannot get enough rhubarb. It grows quite readily here in New England and when we discovered that it contains no detectable FODMAPs, which made us fall in love with it even more! In this low FODMAP Rhubarb Upside Down Cake, this tart vegetable takes the place of the more expected pineapple (which you can see in our Pineapple Upside Down Cake).
All rhubarb recipes will contain a fair amount of sugar to tame the inherent tartness of the rhubarb, but the sourness can vary, so you might not get the same results with this cake every time. We do think it looks prettiest with rhubarb that is more red and pink than green, but any of it will work.
Some Notes on Rhubarb
Trim away any leaves or tough ends. The stalks can vary in width tremendously. They cook most evenly in this recipe when they are about 1-inch (2.5 cm) or less in diameter. If they are thicker, simply cut them lengthwise to size. You will be cutting the lengths as you fit them into the pan, which will become clearer when you reach that step in the recipe. Read more about Rhubarb in our Ingredients column.
Inverting the Cake
At the end of baking you will be inverting the cake from its hot skillet onto a large, flat platter. This sound scary, but it isn’t, as long as you are prepared. You need a serving platter that is larger in diameter than the 10-inch (25 cm) skillet. At least 12-inches (30.5 cm) is a good size and the flatter, the better. You also need oven mitts and chutzpah. I will take you step by step, but get your cojones ready.
And for a different cake using rhubarb, check out our Rustic Rhubarb Cake.
For something completely different, how about Rhubarb BBQ Sauce?
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Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
This pretty Rhubarb Upside Down Cake features tart rhubarb, which has no detectable FODMAPs!
- 1 pound (455 g) rhubarb
- 1/4 cup (57 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 3/4 cup (149 g) sugar
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) lactose-free whole milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cups (181 g) plus 1 tablespoon low FODMAP gluten-free all-purpose flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder; use gluten-free if following a gluten-free diet
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (160 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
Position rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
For the Topping: Take a 10-inch (25 cm) ovenproof skillet, preferably nonstick, and arrange the rhubarb across the bottom, cutting to fit. You can use a few pieces of rhubarb to make up one whole “stripe” that goes from one side to the other (use image to help understand this). Just pack them in there like logs, then remove and set aside. This step is just to get them cut to the right size.
With the now empty pan, begin to melt butter over medium heat. Stir in sugar and continue to cook for a minute or two until it is well combined, bubbly and the sugar is melting. Add rhubarb, packing the pieces in there; the pan will be full and you will have a few creating a second layer, most likely. Cook gently for about 3 to 5 minutes or just until rhubarb is beginning to soften and the whole mixture is juicy. Set aside.
For the Cake: Stir the milk a lemon juice together in a measuring cup and set aside for about 5 minutes to thicken.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together in a small bowl to aerate and combine; set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until soft and creamy. Beat in the vanilla, then beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping bowl down as needed with a silicone spatula. Add the flour mixture and the soured milk and beat just until combined. The batter will be thick. Dollop it out using two spoons on top of the rhubarb. Then very gently spread it out without dislodging or disrupting the rhubarb. This I best accomplished with a small-dampened offset icing spatula, and a very light touch.
Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Use your small icing spatula to run around the edge of the cake, then place a large flat platter on top of cake, and carefully but swiftly invert everything. Wear your hot mitts as needed. If any rhubarb and topping sticks to the pan, simply remove it and put it into place on the cake. We like this cake warm, but room temperature is okay too. It should be eaten the day it is made.