Lemon Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Yeeeee-awn.  I’ve been trying to get up extra early every day for some quiet devotion and alone time, and, while the sun makes it easier, it still isn’t easy for someone who loves their bed as much as I do.  I don’t drink coffee, so coffee cake is like my coffee – a morning pick-me-up accompanied perfectly by the smell of someone else’s actual coffee.

Lemon Rhubarb Buttermilk Coffee Cake | hiddenponies.com

While I don’t love getting out of bed, I love being out of bed, and there is nothing like the threat of a really hot day to make my get my butt in gear in the morning.  I know how hot my house will be by afternoon, and it ain’t cooling off until the wee hours of the night, so the evening is off limits for productivity too.  You’d be amazed how much I can get done by 9:00 when a hot day looms…so don’t judge if you see me sitting around from 9:01 am onwards, because the house is clean, laundry and baking are done, I’ve grocery shopped, and all that’s left to do is get dressed.  And who knows when that cool shower will be needed most?  Let’s not rush into anything.

Let’s have another piece of lemony fresh, super moist, brown sugar-topped rhubarb coffee cake instead.

Lemon Rhubarb Buttermilk Coffee Cake | hiddenponies.comI have always loved lemon rhubarb scones, and wanted to create a coffee cake with all the same flavours but that light, moist, soft texture specific to coffee cakes.  I knew the minute I tried it that I had succeeded, and Carl affirmed it with a raised eyebrow and certainty in his voice when he declared, “This is a good cake.”

That’s exactly what this is – a really good cake.

Lemon Rhubarb Buttermilk Coffee Cake | hiddenponies.comThis is a must-make for this spring or summer.  Like any good coffee cake, it stays soft and fluffy covered on the counter for a full 4-5 days – if you leave a knife in the pan, people can just cut off a chunk while they walk by.  You can also wrap the whole cake and freeze it for another day, perfect if you want to double the recipe and have one on hand for guests.

Carl loves his with whipping cream, I prefer mine plain, but however you slice it, you’re gonna love it.

Lemon Rhubarb Coffee Cake
Total time
A fluffy buttermilk coffee cake with the springy flavours of lemon and rhubarb!
Recipe type: Dessert; Snack
Serves: 12
  • 1¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract (optional - can substitute vanilla, but this increases the lemon flavor)
  • 2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
  • ½ cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon softened butter or margarine
  • 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease a 9" cake pan or 9" square pan.
  2. In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gently stir in rhubarb.
  3. In separate medium bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and extracts until smooth.
  4. Pour wet ingredients over dry, mixing just until all flour is incorporated (do not overmix).
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and top evenly with brown sugar mixture (with fingers, combine all 3 topping ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle onto cake.)
  6. Bake for 33-35 minutes, until top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs from the centre.
Make ahead: Bake cake and let cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap, then in foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge or at room temperature.



  1. says

    I love my mornings too! Getting up early has been a bit of a bust the past few weeks, but I’ll definitely be doing it again next week. I find if I’m focused I can bake first thing in the morning (which makes fresh-baked goods at my desk at 10AM SO rewarding!!) … and this sounds amazing. As a city dweller I may need to find a rhubarb alternative (not sure I can buy them in small batches? Will investigate…) but this recipe looks amazing.

    And congrats on getting up early. I’ve been working on this habit for a year and am only just starting to get regular at it…. but when I succeed, I LOVE it.

    • says

      I still definitely struggle with it some mornings…but love it once I’m up! And you can buy rhubarb by the single stalk around here, so you’d only need a couple – like unbunched celery :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: