This rhubarb cake with streusel topping is the perfect tart and sweet spring and early summer cake. This easy sheet cake is just like the one my Oma (grandma) always made!
The fluffy yeast-based cake makes this a pastry-like treat that's great for snack time, dessert and even breakfast! The buttery streusel topping adds just enough sweetness to perfectly balance out the sour rhubarb.
My mom taught me to love rhubarb (which is actually a vegetable) and I am so happy she did! Definitely also check out my easy rhubarb muffin recipe, German apple cake recipeand strawberry rhubarb strudel recipe for some other fun cake and pastry options!
Here are the simple ingredients I use for making the most delicious rhubarb cake with streusel, just like my Oma made it.
- Flour. I simply use all-purpose flour for making the yeast dough that's the base of this cake as well as the streusel topping.
- Yeast. Because it's hard to find fresh yeast like it's commonly used in Germany, I use active dry yeast. Works just as well! Make sure to store it in the fridge, so it lasts longer.
- Milk. I use 2% cow's milk because that's what the kids drink and we always have it on hand. The calcium in the milk also helps to bind with the oxalic acid in the rhubarb stalks. A win-win. You can of course use any cow's milk or plant-based milk you like to use.
- Butter. I always buy mine in bulk at Costco and I use their New Zealand grassfed butter. It's also salted, so feel free to not add any extra salt to the cake. My Oma never added salt, but it helps to bring out the flavors of the cake.
- Sugar. This cake is not overly sweet. In fact, it's a perfect barely sweet and tart combination with the rhubarb. If you like your cake a little sweeter, you can also sprinkle more sugar on top of the rhubarb before adding the streusel and baking it. That's what my Oma always did, although I don't add extra sugar.
- Egg. There is just one egg that goes into the dough base for the cake.
- Salt. Feel free to add a little salt to help bring out the flavors of this cake. My Oma never added salt, but I think it makes it taste better.
- Lemon. I like adding some lemon zest into the yeast cake base for a bright flavor note.
- Vanilla. A little vanilla extract in the streusel helps those buttery crumbles taste even more like a warm hug on top of the cake.
- Rhubarb. Did you know rhubarb is technically a vegetable? Make sure to trim off the leaves and ends before using, as they contain higher amounts of oxalic acid.
Do you peel rhubarb?
You don't have to peel rhubarb, especially if it's early in the season. I don't remember my Oma ever peeling it, if that helps! Later in the season, the amount of oxalic acid increases in the peel. Oxalic acid can harm your health if consumed in large quantities, although the amount found in the rhubarb stalks is very low.
Either peeling the rhubarb or blanching it (and discarding the water afterward) can help to reduce the amounts of oxalic acid found in rhubarb (if you're concerned). Using milk products or other calcium-rich products in the cake recipe also helps to decrease the amount of acid left, as it binds with the calcium before reaching the stomach.
Don't be scared. Rhubarb has far more health benefits than any intention of harming you!
Can you freeze rhubarb cake?
The rhubarb cake freezes very well, too, if you have some cake leftover. This will help get you through your rhubarb cravings and sugar lows for weeks after the rhubarb season ends.
Ready to make my easy rhubarb cake with me? Check out this short video. And if I can make it with a baby strapped to me, you can definitely make it!
Rhubarb Cake with Streusel (Rhabarberstreusel)
- 4 stalks rhubarb I used large ones. If using small ones, use 8 to 10.
- Combine yeast, lukewarm milk and let sit for 5 minutes or until bubbles start to form.7 grams active dry yeast, 250 milliliters milk
- Sift together flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a standmixer. Add in the yeast mixture, lemon zest, egg and butter, then knead for 5 to 10 minutes or until you end up with a smooth dough that does not stick to the sides of the bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm spot until the dough has doubled to 1½ its size, about 1 hour.500 grams all purpose flour, 100 grams butter, 75 grams sugar, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ lemon
- Using your hands, spread out onto a half sheet baking pan prepped with parchment paper.
- Trim the ends of the rhubarb and cut it into 1 in (about 2 cm) pieces. You do not need to peel or boil the rhubarb (see my note below). Evenly cover the dough with it. You can optionally sprinkle a little sugar on top like my Oma did (but I think the streusel adds enough sweetness).4 stalks rhubarb
- For the streusel, combine all ingredients and using an electric mixer, beat until the dough is combined and starts crumbling apart. Spread out over the rhubarb200 grams flour, 150 grams sugar, 150 grams butter, 1 pinch salt, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Bake at 390℉ (200℃) for about 30 minutes, or until the edges are browned and the streusel start to brown (a toothpick should come out clean after baking).
- Cut into 16 squares and serve with freshly whipped cream (I add a little powdered sugar to sweeten and some vanilla extract). Keep the whipped cream cool until ready to serve.