Sunday, 19 May 2019

Gluten Free Rhubarb Upside Down Cake with Strawberry and Almond Sponge

Are you a rhubarb lover or hater? As a child I was a hater, but maturity has brought a love of the pink stuff and with it a desire to make a Rhubarb Upside Down Cake. No ordinary rhubarb upside down cake I hasten to add, but a gluten free one, made with a delicious strawberry and almond sponge incorporating real freeze dried strawberry powder and a very healthy ratio of ground almonds.

I love using ground almonds in gluten free bakes, not only because they add moisture and texture, but because they also add structure, lessening the potential crumbliness and dryness so familiar (and frustrating) to us gluten free folk. They are also amazing in their nutritional value, being a great source of protein, vitamin E, manganese and magnesium. Whilst they may be considered a 'high fat' ingredient, the great news is that most of the fat is monounsaturated which has cardio-protective properties. Sure, I'm throwing them into cake, but every little helps and if I am going to use valuable calories enjoying a treat, I figure I might as well ensure it has some nutritional value too.

The rhubarb I have used comes from my garden. Having completely water-logged and killed a much coveted rhubarb plant that we grew a few years back, we replaced it with a new one (which we put in a more favourable part of the garden) and are now being repaid with more rhubarb sticks than we can ever hope to eat, challenging us to source, invent and experiment with as many rhubarb recipes as we can. Seriously, if you fall into the 'love rhubarb' camp, consider growing your own (if you don't already). It is the plant that keeps on giving.... all summer...

Rhubarb upside down cake is just perfect for using it, because it consumes plenty of sticks in one hit. Better still, because it is upside down, you get to enjoy looking at the beautiful rhubarb hues and textures. Of course, the more pink the rhubarb, the better the effect, so be sure to arrange it pink side down in the bottom of the cake tin before baking.

This particular rhubarb upside down cake packs an extra-fruity punch from the addition of ground freeze-dried strawberry powder in the sponge. From the moment I discovered freeze-dried fruit, I have been a fan and have loved using it powdered in cakes and biscuits. Somehow the flavours of the fruit are extra intense when it has been through the freeze-drying process and depending on the fruit you are using, it can add the most beautiful natural colour to your cakes and cookies.

If you want to experiment yourself, it is definitely worth buying in larger quantities, either as ready-ground powder or to grind yourself at home. The tiny pots that you can buy in major supermarkets are way over-priced and simply won't stretch to large-scale baking. I always buy mine on-line from Healthy Supplies who have the most amazing range... from berries and cherries through to banana, blackcurrants and mandarin. If you buy the fruit pre-ground, it makes a fantastically healthy snack too, especially for little ones. Miss GF has always loved it!

If gluten free rhubarb upside down cake doesn't float your boat, but you are still in need of some seasonal rhubarb inspiration, a number of my good free-from and blogger friends have helped me out by sharing some of their favourite rhubarb recipes. They are all free from gluten and some of them are also free from dairy, eggs, nuts and other things too. I have also included a selection of other rhubarb treats from Gluten Free Alchemist :

Rhubarb Curd - Gluten Free Alchemist
Strawberry, Rhubarb & Pomegranate Jam - Gluten Free Alchemist
Rhubarb-Strawberry Meringue Pie - Gluten Free Alchemist
Champagne Syllabub with Orange-Rhubarb Compote from Choclette at Tin & Thyme
Oven-Baked Rhubarb & Strawberry Risotto (vegan) from Mandy at Sneaky Veg - Looks incredible
Rhubarb & Ginger Crumble Bars (vegan) from Nathalie at Intolerant Gourmand. Who can resist a tempting crumble topped rhubarb treat?
Rhubarb & Custard Layer Cakes - Gluten Free Alchemist
Rhubarb & Ginger Chutney (vegan) from Tin & Thyme
Rhubarb & Ginger Crumble Cake from Rebecca at Glutarama (egg-free and optional vegan). For an alternative crumble treat but with a cake base.
Rhubarb Friands with White Chocolate from Tin & Thyme
Rhubarb No Churn Ice Cream - Gluten Free Alchemist
Rhubarb & White Chocolate Eclairs - Gluten Free Alchemist

Yield: 12 - 16 slices

Gluten Free Rhubarb Upside Down Cake with Strawberry & Almond Sponge

A moist upside down cake made with fresh seasonal rhubarb and a gluten free strawberry and almond sponge (made with real strawberry powder). Perfect as a cake to serve with tea or as a dessert served with custard, cream, or ice cream.
prep time: cook time: total time:


  • 160g plain gluten free flour mix (I used blend A GFA mix from this post)
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon GF baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (leave out if you use a commercial mix that has it already added)
  • large pinch fine sea salt
  • 25g freeze-dried strawberry powder (if you cannot source strawberry powder, use freeze-dried strawberries and grind into a fine powder using a blender).
  • 100g unsalted butter/dairy free alternative - softened
  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 250 ml yoghurt (dairy free if needed)
  • 75 ml milk/dairy free alternative
  • approx 250g fresh rhubarb (sliced lengthways)
  • 80g soft light brown sugar


How to cook Gluten Free Rhubarb Upside Down Cake with Strawberry & Almond Sponge

  1. Ahead of time, prepare your rhubarb by slicing lengthways (you may also want to consider how you wish to lay in the base of the cake pan and cut roughly to size). Place the rhubarb in a dish and sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar, turning to ensure all the rhubarb is coated. Leave to stand at room temperature for an hour, turning occasionally.
  2. Base-line a 9 inch/23 cm non-stick, spring-form cake tin (2" deep) with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  3. Arrange the rhubarb in the base of the cake tin (placing the most pink bits upside down so that they show when the cake is turned out) and spoon over the remaining sugar juice. Make sure that you place the cake tin onto a baking tray before baking as some of the juice may leak out of the base.
  4. Weigh and mix together the flour, almonds, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt and strawberry powder (I weigh mine into an airtight container and shake vigorously to mix) and set aside.
  5. Cream the butter and flour together with the vanilla extract (with an electric whisk) until light and fluffy.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between each addition.
  7. Mix together the yoghurt and milk in a jug and then add to the bowl about a third at a time, alternating with adding the dry flour mix a third at a time, gently folding through between each addition until just mixed and even. Be careful not to over mix.
  8. Spoon the cake batter into the cake tin over the rhubarb and smooth the top with the back of the spoon.
  9. Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes until the top springs back to the touch and a skewer comes out clean. If towards the end of the bake you are worried that the cake may be getting a little dark, cover with a piece of foil.
  10. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin before turning out (upside down) onto a heat-proof plate (if you are opting to do the stage below, otherwise turn onto a serving plate).
  11. Optional : Lightly grill the rhubarb base of the cake to caramelise slightly (do not place the cake too close to the grill heat), keeping a close eye to ensure you do not burn.
  12. Transfer to a serving plate (if different) and serve 'naked', or with cream, custard or ice cream.
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Created using The Recipes Generator

To share some rhubarby love, I am linking my gluten free Rhubarb Upside Down Cake with a few link-parties as follows :


Bake of the Week with Casa Costello & Mummy Mishaps
Baking Crumbs with Jo's Kitchen Larder & Apply to Face Blog
Love Cake with Jibber Jabber

What's For Dinner #201 with The Lazy Gastronome
Cook Blog Share with A Strong Coffee
Fiesta Friday #277 with Angie, Of Goats & Greens and The Not So Creative Cook

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-19 unless otherwise indicated


  1. Such a beautiful cake Kate! Upside down cakes are just so pretty to look at and eat as well of course :) I love baking with ground almonds too but have never tried freeze-dried strawberry powder although I can imagine this lovely and intense strawberry flavour it gives! Plus rhubarb and strawberries go so well together too! Thank you for sharing your lovely cake with #BakingCrumbs :) x

    1. Thank you Jo. You're welcome. I would thoroughly recommend getting your hands on some freeze-dried fruit powder. There are so many possibilities for its use x

  2. I really like the idea of the strawberry in the sponge. This is one of the nicestrhubarb upside down cakes i have seen

  3. This looks totally gorgeous, I love how you have arranged the rhubarb which is a favourite of mine.

    1. Thank you Janice. I think I spent longer deciding how to arrange the rhubarb than I did making the cake xx

  4. This looks so pretty. I love the idea of adding strawberries with the rhubarb.

    1. Thanks Cat. Strawberry & Rhubarb is a fantastic combo x

  5. That is so gorgeous - I really love rhubarb but get lazy about cooking with it as an adult - whereas my mum baked with it a lot as a kid so I find it quite a nostalgic taste when I have it. FReeze dried strawberries or power is quite rare - I think I have only found them once at a pricey grocery where I really visit because it is quite out of the way.

    1. Thanks Johanna. I think because I have invested in a rhubarb plant I feel obligated to use it!
      Shame that you can't find freeze-dried fruit so easily. To be honest, it is stupidly expensive in the shops here, but the source I use on line is much more reasonable. x

  6. Yes, I love rhubarb, and am planting some this year so I can have it seasonally in years to come. I do agree that a little may (note, I say, MAY) go a long way... but it's a great veggie both savory or sweet. Thanks for this recipe and for sharing with Fiesta Friday!

    1. You're welcome. Definitely worth investing in a plant. If you get it in the right place in the garden, you will be well rewarded x

  7. I could almost smell this, Kate. Such an amazing treat to bring at this week's Fiesta Friday party! I am sure our FF friends would love this. Thanks for sharing!

  8. This looks beautiful. Thanks for sharing on #cookblogshare

  9. What a lovely idea! I am a big fan of pineapple upsidedown cake, and I really love rhubarb, so I am sure I would LOVE this - especially with the addition of strawberries and almonds. Eb x

    1. Oooohhh... Pineapple upside down cake was a true fave when I was a kid. My mum used to make it all the time in an 'infra red grill' thing..... bizzare, but it always came out perfectly! x

  10. The cake looks spectacular, and I'm sure it tasted just as beautiful. I've always wanted to taste rhubarb, but sadly, it doesn't grow in the kind of weather we have here in India. Hope to get my hands on some rhubarb some time, so I can try this cake out!

    1. Thank you Priya. It was lovely. But I am sure the rhubarb could be well substituted for any of the amazing fruit you grow in India xx

  11. What a beaut! I bloomin love upside down cakes and I too have only found a deep love for Rhubarb in my later years! I just love the sound of this one and it looks absolutely beautiful too! Thank you so much for sharing it with #BakingCrumbs

    1. Thanks Jenny. I think rhubarb is definitely quite 'adult'. I don't think I was that keen as a child and often forced myself to eat Rhubarb and Custard sweets, because I thought I was 'supposed' to like them. I think I have definitely become much more a fan of the 'tart' so to speak! xx

  12. We have so much rhubarb at the allotment at the moment so I'm always looking for ways to use it. I made an upside down cake at the weekend full of ground almonds with an orange glaze but the strawberry powder sponge sounds amazing! Such a great combination of flavours.

  13. Very pretty cake! I love rhubarb and I love the way you arranged it!


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