Rhubarb Orange Pudding Cake & Baking With What You Have

I honest-to-god didn’t want to eat another brownie and didn’t crave a piece of pie as soon as I finished my last bite of lunch this week. The quarantine baking show at our house has been pretty intense and this week I actually took a break.


However, there is rhubarb and rhubarb is wonderful. And after a few sweet-free days I couldn’t resist coming up with something quick and adaptable and delicious to share. Luckily our neighbors are still eager to eat the treats coming out of our “inventing room” (please imagine that being said by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory) so I can keep inventing and don’t have to eat it all myself.


A few stalks of rhubarb and a not-very-vibrant-anymore orange inspired this concoction that I’m calling a pudding cake. It’s not quite fruit-heavy enough to be a cobbler and it’s just custardy enough not to be a sliceable cake. It’s a quick affair, doesn’t call for eggs or butter and can be adapted based on your likes. I can’t wait to try it with other fruit, other flours and spices. And if you use a non-dairy milk it will be vegan. Please report back if you make it and vary it!

Happy Mother’s day to all you mother’s out there!


Rhubarb Orange Pudding Cake

Figuring out what to bake it in might be your biggest challenge. I used an 11-inch round ceramic tart pan of sorts. You need something bigger than a typical pie pan. I thought a 9 x 13″ baking dish might be good but I’ve gotten feedback that it seems a little big. I just love the look of the round cake here. You don’t want it to be too deep as I think you’ll lose some of the appeal. And if you’re using a round pan be sure to bake it on a sheet pan in case it bubbles over like mine did.


This is what it looks like right before it goes in the oven.


Serves 6-8


For the fruit:

4 heaping cups rhubarb, washed trimmed and sliced into 1/2- 3/4″ pieces

Scant 1/2 cup sugar

Zest of 1 orange

Juice of 1 orange, about 1/3 cup

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons lemon juice


For the batter:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I think spelt flour would be fabulous or a combo of whole wheat and apf or any other combo you want to try)

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Zest of 1/2 a lemon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (if you have whole pods crush them in a mortar, remove seeds and grind those for a much greater effect than most already ground cardamom has)

Scant 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup whole milk (I imagine a non-dairy milk would work well but haven’t tried it)

4 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons turbinado (or other very coarse) sugar


Preheat oven to 375.


Put the rhubarb in a medium bowl with the sugar and orange zest. In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of the orange juice and when it’s a smooth slurry add the reminder of the orange and lemon juice, mix well and stir it into the rhubarb.


I another bowl whisk the flour, granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Pour in the milk and olive oil. Whisk quickly to combine evenly. A few little lumps are fine. The batter won’t be very thick.


Put the fruit in your baking dish (no need to grease). See headnote about appropriate baking dishes. Pour the batter over the fruit. Don’t worry about covering it evenly. Pockets of uncovered fruit are good and add variety. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar evenly over the batter. Put the baking dish on a sheet pan and bake for about 40-45 minutes. The fruit juices should be thick and bubbling and the top golden brown and beginning to crack and no raw batter visible when tested.


Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream if you’d like!