Norwegian Rhubarb Cake

Norwegian Rhubarb Cake (Rabarbrakake)

Norwegian Rhubarb Cake

Amidst almond-scented cakes and recipes featuring plenty of dill, I’ve occasionally veered from the topic of Scandinavian food to talk about writing. As a journalist and creative writer, it’s long been a big part of my life. Lately, with a dear relative suffering from a series of strokes in February, it has become a way for me to cope as well.

The past month or so has been challenging in ways I am still working through. I process best sometimes through the written word, and so I have spent some of my writing sessions trying to wipe away the heartache with pen to paper or keystroke by keystroke. As a personal form of writing, it hasn’t been right to share here, and with the weight of my loved one’s illness shadowing me on many days, I’ve struggled to write much about food on the blog. But oh how I have longed to!

Week by week, as she has shown continued signs of improvement, the melancholy has lifted little by little. And along with that, the Seattle weather–which recently gave us the rainiest March on record–has been offering white cottony clouds strewn in patches against an otherwise clear, vivid blue sky. Spring has brought with it the cottony explosions of cherry blossoms, steady gaze of daffodils, and now Japanese maples unfurling a little bit each day. There is rhubarb waiting to be stewed into compotes and fruit soups, cocktails and pie. And there is Norwegian rhubarb cake.

Norwegian Rhubarb Cake

I’m often struck by the simplicity of Norwegian recipes. Looking at a short list of ingredients–often mostly some variation of butter, sugar, milk, flour, and eggs–I’m tempted to dress it up a bit, adding a little bit of spice here, some flavoring or other adornment there. Usually when I resist, it’s a good thing; the term elegant simplicity has come to mind again and again when I’ve speared a fork into a slice of Norwegian dessert and brought a bite to my mouth, letting the richness and wholeness of the finished product linger for a moment as I reflect on how it’s just right. That’s the case with this rhubarb cake, which is little more than a moist butter cake studded with slices of fresh rhubarb that almost melts into the batter as it bakes. In its simplicity, it is perfect.

I hope to be back to writing about food here at Outside Oslo more frequently in the near future. There are all sorts of Scandinavian recipes I’d love to share, especially leading up to Syttende Mai. In the meantime, please do keep in touch–I love getting notes and comments from you, and you can also connect on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. And now, I hope you’ll enjoy a slice of rabarbrakake!

Norwegian Rhubarb Cake

Norwegian Rhubarb Cake (Rabarbrakake)
Adapted from Norwegian National Recipes. Also featured on the blog last year.

1/4 cup butter (I used unsalted)
1/3 cup whole milk
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 large stalk rhubarb
Powdered sugar (optional)
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in milk and set aside to cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a nine-inch springform pan.

Beat eggs and sugar on high for a minute or two–let them get light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and slowly pour in the milk and butter. Mix in the flour and baking powder until just incorporated, then pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading the top into an even layer with a spatula.

Trim the rhubarb and cut into quarter-inch slices on the diagonal. Scatter slices evenly over the top of the cake. Bake for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cool on a rack in the pan for about five minutes, then remove from pan and continue cooling on a rack.

Dust top of cake with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream if desired.

Cake will keep a day or two if covered, but is best on the first or second day.

Makes one 9-inch cake.

Norwegian Rhubarb Cake

Find even more sweet and savory treats in my cookbook Modern Scandinavian Baking!

Modern Scandinavian Baking


  • Delores Nilsen Luttropp

    Tusen Takk for this wonderful recipe and the beautiful photos. I plan on making this cake over the weekend sometime…Thanks so much!

  • Amy WK

    I’ve been wishing for some new recipe to try with my rhubarb growing in the garden. Thanks. And sorry to hear of ailing dear ones. Hang in there, friend!

    • Daytona Strong

      Amy, thank you for your kind words–it’s been a challenging season, but things are slowly but surely looking up for her. I hope you enjoy the cake–you’re lucky to have rhubarb in your garden! I’ve been trying to decide what sort of edible plants to grow, and I’d love to have a rhubarb plant.

  • theseasonedtraveler

    I’m so happy I stumbled across this recipe and your lovely blog! I made this, with some added cardamom in the batter, and it turned out wonderful! My photos are not nearly as beautiful as yours, but I hope to post about it soon (linking to your page) if you wouldn’t mind. Thank you for sharing, and I look forward to reading/seeing more of your beautiful posts here. -Laura

    • Daytona Strong

      Cardamon in the batter sounds wonderful! Thanks for the great suggestion. I checked out your blog post about the cake, and now I want to give it a try! Thanks for stopping by and for your compliments!

  • Cheri K Falk

    Mange Takk! I made a gluten free version. With my own GF flour mix, our own fresh duck eggs and I used my homemade hazelnut milk instead of cows milk. Turned out excellent! I have a Swedish tea cake recipe that is very similar.
    Having lived in Ballard all my life, walking distance from Norwegian,Danish, Swedish bakeries and specialty shops, your blog is a true taste from home! We moved to NH 17 yrs ago and DO NOT consider Dunkin Donuts a bakery! When I make my krumkake or sandbakkels friends and neighbors ooh and ahh over these traditional treats 🙂
    One of the first years we were here,when our children were young, I hauled the whole family on a three hour ride up to a town in northern NH that had a Syttendae Mai celebration (dreaming of Ballard’s celebration we always participated in), a dismal failure. The town had a handful of Norwegians with two tables of soggy baked goods and flags of Norway tacked on various phone poles. So yes I do miss our beloved Ballard and the ties to our heritage <3

    • Daytona Strong

      Cheri, gluten-free with fresh duck eggs and homemade hazelnut milk? Yum!

      Thanks so much for sharing your story. Yes, Ballard is a very special neighborhood for those of us with Nordic roots! It has changed a lot in the 17 years since you left and you would notice a big decrease in the number of Scandinavian businesses. But the ones that still exist are thriving (Scandinavian Specialties on 15th and Larsen’s Bakery come to mind), and the Syttende Mai parade and festival is still as vibrant as I remember it being when I was a child. I’ll be sharing photos from this year’s celebration on the blog next month!

  • Marta Noble

    Rhubarb has been thriving in my garden. I’ve been sleuthing around for a good rhubarb cake recipe that would please my spouse’s German tastes — not too busy, not too sweet, and (to please my tastes) not too dry. This is it. I’ve made it several times now and we are all quite happy with it. The cake pillows up beautifully around the rhubarb and is just a bit moist and buttery. It’s the perfect cake for a Kaffee & Kuchen out on our front porch in Seattle’s late-afternoon sunshine. A solid recipe and well-suited for all kinds of different fruits or flavors — in particular, I can say fresh tart gooseberries work great as an addition or substitution. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Barbara

    I made this cake exactly to the recipe today and it looks lovely…I’m taking it to Easter dinner tomorrow where it will be featured.

  • Charlene Shaver

    Thanks for the recipe, just as you said simple elegance. I love rhubarb and now can’t wait for some fresh to grow in our new home.

  • Anna

    This is so close to my great grandma’s. I don’t always have cream, but I do always have milk. I think I’ll be trying your recipe.
    … I do use frozen rhubarb, I just let it soak in the cream and sugar.

  • John L Vogt

    I seem to have trouble with your recipe formating. I’m assuming the solution is on your end, not mine. Any prognosis when this might be corrected?

    Tks. JLV.

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