Kate’s Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Kate's Rhubarb Upside Down Cake | Korena in the Kitchen

The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7, 2013. As we share our collective stories through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity. Visit Valerie’s blog, A Canadian Foodie, on the 15th for a round-up of this month’s posts.

May’s theme for the Canadian Food Experience Project is “The Canadian Garden”, which frankly seems like a bit of a joke at this time of the year. Even living in one of the most temperate places in the country (“Cowichan” means “The Warm Land” in the local First Nations language), my garden is mostly bare dirt at the moment… save for my rhubarb plant.

Rhubarb in my garden | Korena in the Kitchen

I planted this little baby last year in a spot that got virtually no sun, so a few months later I transplanted it. And then all the leaves fell off and the stalks withered into nothing, and I was pretty sure I’d killed it. I was kind of devastated, because to me, a garden isn’t a garden without a rhubarb plant. There was always a ginormous one in my mum’s garden, and it seems to be the type of thing that everyone has growing in a corner of their yard, whether or not they are gardeners. My childhood memories are punctuated by rhubarb crisps (similar to this cobbler), and I have a large scar on my left thumb from a rhubarb-chopping accident when I was five years old (resulting in a trip to the emergency room, stitches, and SO MUCH five-year-old drama). You could say that rhubarb has left a mark on me.

Rhubarb in my garden | Korena in the Kitchen

So needless so say, I was pretty thrilled to see that my rhubarb plant was one of the first things to spring back to life in my garden this year. And I’m even more thrilled to have Kate from Venison for Dinner here to share a recipe for Rhubarb Upside Down Cake. Kate is the ultimate make-it-from-scratch girl: she milks her own cow, makes cheese, butchers deer for venison, and is the one who got me started on grinding my own flour – all while raising two adorable little boys with her husband and somehow finding time to blog about it all. I joke sometimes about being a crunchy granola hippie, but Kate (who lives on Salt Spring Island, where I grew up) takes it to the next level – and I mean that in a good way! Her blog’s tagline is “Our Homemade Life”, and I just love reading about it. And friends, I think you will too! So without further ado, here’s Kate!

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I can’t remember where I originally found this recipe, but it was more the idea than the recipe I took, because this recipe doesn’t resemble the original white flour version! If buckwheat flour is new for you, don’t be afraid, it bakes up beautifully and people won’t notice it’s something ‘hippy-ish’ unless you point it out.

Depending on the crowd, I just might keep that nugget of information to myself in case it turns them off, or I’ll proudly share because it’ll make them like it all the more and ask for seconds.

I’ll let you read your crowd, but I’ll provide the recipe. What originally drew me to the idea of this recipe was that it was baked in a cast iron frying pan, I mean, COME ON, how cool is that?! Korena and I both have participated in the WonderMill Grain Mill Wagon Challenge and thus are proud owners of WonderMills, but if you don’t have one, don’t feel discouraged! Substitute store bought buckwheat flour for the fresh ground.

I’ve made this with fresh OR thawed from the freezer rhubarb so make sure to stash away some extra rhubarb this spring to make a burst of spring in the midst of winter. I believe that’s my favourite part of stashing away in season fruit, the ability to pull out part of that season, in a totally different time of year. It’s more satisfying than buying out of season produce from the store because you have memories associated with that frozen bounty. Also, I believe rhubarb is one of the truly, you can only buy in season fruits, so let’s get on it already!

Kate's Rhubarb Upside Down Cake | Korena in the Kitchen

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake


2 tbsp butter

1/2 c brown sugar (preferably something like organic cane juice to avoid the sugar beets)

3 c roughly chopped rhubarb (fresh or thawed if frozen)

Cake Batter

1 1/3 c buckwheat flour, preferably fresh ground

2/3 c brown sugar (see above)

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp nutmeg (I really fancy buying whole nutmeg and grating it fresh)

2 eggs

1 c yogurt or sour cream

1/2 c melted butter (sub olive oil if need be)

1 tsp vanilla


Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Over medium heat, melt butter in a 10 inch cast iron skillet. Add brown sugar, then rhubarb and sauté a few minutes until slightly softened, remove from heat. In a separate bowl, mix buckwheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder, sea salt and nutmeg. In a small bowl beat eggs, add remaining ingredients and beat well. Gently mix wet into dry until just combined. Pour over top of the rhubarb in your pan, and bake 45-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool on a rack 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges, put a plate upside down on top of the pan, and flip upside down. Serve warm or cold. Terrific the next day for breakfast, if you have leftovers!

Wanna hear more from Kate? Visit her at Venison for Dinner!


  1. wendyjv says

    Korena, you were 3 when you cut your finger (and I was thinking people were judging me a bad mother because my 3 year old was allowed to use a real knife, a sharp one at that, to cut with at that age! Frankly, I never thought of giving you a dull one, but maybe that would have been less traumatic!) And yes, there was plenty of trauma and drama, lasting all the way to having the stitches out, let along getting them put in!

    • says

      No I was definitely five – I remember going to Kindergarten and showing off my bandaged thumb. And also because I got 7 stitches when I was five, and then 5 stitches when I was seven (remember when I jumped off the swing set?) 😉

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