Rhubarb Upside Down Almond Cake – GF

I have been baking cakes based on a batter prepared with soft cheeses, such as cottage cheese and ricotta cheese, for many years now. The recipe in this blog is one of the pear upside down cake. However, using tart fruits, rhubarb in particular, and separating eggs, when preparing the batter, results in a cake with an amazing contrast of tart to sweet flavours and improved, more airy texture of the cake, compared to the pear cake.

The cake is easy to prepare, especially as rhubarb is used fresh, without any preliminary cooking. This particular cake has an unusual colour of rhubarb layer, without characteristic purple overtone. This happened because I used very thick, overgrown rhubarb sticks with hard skin, which I decided to peel off. Coconut sugar and generous cinnamon powder quantity gave the fruit layer its colour. Tart/bitter taste of orange glaze, based on the drained excess liquid from whole cooked orange puree, added an extra vibrancy and intensity to the mix of cake flavours. We loved this cake, made with rhubarb and I have baked it 2 more times in a row. I also tried it with frozen raspberries, including small quantity of chia seeds to prevent too runny top layer of the cake. Rhubarb cake remained still my favourite. If you are not a big fan of separating eggs, cake batter can be made with whole eggs beaten with sugar until the volume triples. In this case egg mixture should be combined with cottage cheese and dry ingredients added after that, as it is shown in above mentioned pear cake.

This cake can be even considered as guilt free dessert, as the flour component in its batter is minimal and its ratio to other nutritionally sound ingredients (namely eggs, soft cheese, almond meal, fruits) is extremely beneficial. Soft and moist texture of the cake, that never goes stale, is achieved without any added fats. All fat in the batter comes as an intrinsic component of batter ingredients. This batter probably has the highest protein content, that can be compared only to cake batters made purely with coconut flour.

Update 28.8.2019

I decide to bake this upside down cake as a tray bake and suddenly discovered that I am short on cottage cheese as the main ingredient. I made some adjustments to the recipe and the cake got only better. I replaced cottage cheese with full fat sour cream and used changed almond meal to rice flour ratio. I also reduced sugar to 120g for the batter, and used 2 table spoons of pure apple puree over butter to have “caramel” layer for rhubarb. Here is the cake.


  • 200g cottage cheese (can be replaced by firm ricotta cheese)
  • 150g sugar
  • 10g vanilla sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 150g almond meal, sifted
  • 50g rice flour
  • 6g, 1 tea spoon baking powder (optional)
  • 1 table spoon lemon juice, can be replaced by pure apple puree
  • 1 tea spoon of lemon zest or lemon extract
  • 20g (15+5) unsalted butter
  • 2 table spoons of aromatic sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1 heaped dessert spoon cinnamon powder
  • bunch of rhubarb (cut in 5mm pieces, loosely packed it took 800ml in volume)
  • tart fruit syrup or glaze to apply on rhubarb after baking (I used thick orange glaze, made from extra liquid from cooked whole oranges used to make orange puree, I drained quite runny puree and used the liquid with added sugar to make thick orange syrup)

optional to serve

  • whipped cream with vanilla extract or pure vanilla powder

tray bake adjustments

  • 135g cottage cheese
  • 75g 36%fat sour cream
  • 100g almond meal
  • 100g rice flour
  • 120g sugar
  • 3 eggs not separated
  • eggs beaten with sugar and vanilla sugar, added to cottage cheese/sour cream mix, dry ingredients added to wet
  • the batter is runny and raises better during baking giving more airy and light texture to the cake


You can use any baking pan lined with baking paper, however the best option is to use high round tin (mine was 23cm in diameter) with removable bottom. I used cake liner on the bottom of the tin and lined the sides with extra baking paper.

  • line baking tin with baking paper, it is better to use cake paper lining on the bottom
  • melt 15g butter and spread it on paper lining
  • use 1 table spoon of sugar over the butter
  • wash, dry and cut rhubarb sticks in 5 mm pieces, peel rhubarb if it is thick and overgrown with hard skin
  • add the second table spoon of sugar and cinnamon powder, mix it evenly to cover rhubarb pieces
  • spread rhubarb on the bottom of the pan
  • you can add source of vanilla, I used vanilla extract and pipette to drop extract over rhubarb
  • use another portion of butter in small pieces over rhubarb
  • separate eggs
  • beat egg whites to soft peaks, add 100g sugar in 3-4 portions while beating egg whites to glossy hard peaks
  • whisk egg yolks with 50g sugar until they double in volume and become pale
  • in a large wide bowl add lemon juice/apple puree, lemon extract/zest, vanilla sugar and 1 table spoon of beaten egg yolks
  • use spatula to combine ingredients together to reach the consistency of fine paste
  • add the rest of egg yolks, combine ingredients
  • in another bowl mix sifted almond meal with rice flour and baking powder
  • add dry ingredients to cottage cheese and egg yolk mixture, combine them together
  • add 1-2 table spoons of egg whites to the dough, to loosen it up
  • add the rest of egg whites and gently mix them into the batter
  • spoon the batter over rhubarb layer, level it with spatula
  • bake in preheated to 160-170C fan forced oven for 50-55 minutes, baking time depends on the size and shape of the tin, when batter layer in thinner, if the cake is baked as a tray bake, baking time can be shorter
  • fully baked cake is firm and springy to touch

  • take side paper off, let the cake rest for 5 minutes
  • prepare the glaze, warm it up to liquid consistency
  • remove sides of the baking tin
  • turn the cake over to a lined with baking paper board
  • carefully remove lining from the sides and from the top

  • use spatula to make rhubarb layer even, minimising cavities, pour the glaze
  • spread the glaze evenly, use it to fill cavities

  • the cake can be sliced when still warm, but it will develop more pronounced and intense flavour when completely cooled down, in my opinion, cake becomes more delicious on the second day

The cake is dense, but soft and moist at the same time. It can be served as is, but with vanilla whipped cream and several drops of remaining orange glaze the cake will satisfy the most demanding tastes.

8 thoughts on “Rhubarb Upside Down Almond Cake – GF

    1. I like all upside down cakes. Their structure allows the bottom layer in baking to cook even fresh and hard fruits to soft texture. The position of batter on top allows the cake to raise without constrains. In tray bakes it is an extra bonus. I bake apple, pear and plum tart tatin, upside down cakes and even upside down muffins with different batter types, but ones with rhubarb became my favourites. It gives the most intense contrast in sweet and tart flavours.

      1. It can be a very serious problem with heavy gluten and grain free flours. I am now thinking of baking some savoury pies as an upside down bake, even with yeast dough.

    1. Thank you Sandra, we love rhubarb, too. Besides using it in baking, that gives more interesting, intense and sophisticated flavour compared to apples, I like to add rhubarb to the mix of fruits and berries while making jams and thick fruit sauces. It usually disintegrates in the process, thickening jams and sauces and allows to avoid starches or other agents.

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