Rhubarb Cake: Vintage Recipes

Vintage Church/School/Other Group Cookbooks From the ’50s, ’60s & ’70s

by Stephanie Thurow
PHOTO: rhubarb cake

Rhubarb cake is top of mind in spring as it’s abundant in our gardens and easily found at the farmer’s markets.

Rhubarb is great because it can be used in a variety of different ways. Enjoy it fresh with a little dab of sugar, turn it into jam, bake it into a pie or create a delicious sauce with it, make a rhubarb shrub, plus so many more delicious culinary options.

Fresh Rhubarb is growing in the garden. Photo by manuta

While paging through my vintage church/school/other group cookbooks from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, I found a large variety of rhubarb recipes. I treasure the old cookbooks because the recipes contained in them are a collection of tried-and-true favorites from members of the various groups – the member’s family favorites.

Here is a great rhubarb cake recipe from one of the cookbooks, published 48 years ago.

Rhubarb Cake

Cake Ingredients

1.5 cups brown sugar
½ cup shortening
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups rhubarb, finely chopped

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Topping Ingredients

1.5 cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon powder
½ cup nuts of your choice, finely chopped


Preheat oven to 375°F.

Mix all of the cake ingredients together and pour batter into an 8×8” oven safe baking pan. Mix together all topping ingredients and evenly disperse it over the batter. Bake one hour.

Rhubarb cake recipe submitted by, Irene Keller. Shared form the 1976 copy of Dodge Center St. John Baptist DeLaSalle Catholic Women’s Cookbook. Iowa.

Here is a second recipe for rhubarb cake that I found in another 1970s cookbook…

Rhubarb Cake

Cake Batter Ingredients

1.5 cups brown sugar
½ cup butter (recipe originally calls for oleo)
1 egg
2 cups white all purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
½ cup buttermilk
1.5 cups rhubarb, chopped
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Topping Ingredients

½ cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon powder
1 cup coconut flakes
1 tbsp. butter, room temperature


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat brown sugar, room-temperature butter and egg together well. Sift flour, salt and baking soda into the mixture. Add buttermilk, rhubarb and vanilla and mix together well.

Combine the topping ingredients; mix together the sugar, cinnamon, coconut and butter. Sprinkle the topping over the cake before baking.

Bake for 40 minutes.

This rhubarb cake recipe was submitted by Mrs. Roman Rezac and Mrs. Harry Tuma. Shared from the 75 Years of Good Cooking cookbook, compiled by the Rosary Society Immaculate Conception Parish in Lonsdale, MN.

Here is a bonus recipe for Rhubarb Meringue Pie, an alternative to rhubarb cake…

Rhubarb Meringue Pie


Pie crust (raw, either premade or freshly made with recipe of choice)

Filling Ingredients

1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. white all-purpose flour
1.5 cups rhubarb, finely chopped
A pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Meringue Ingredients

2 egg whites, set aside for the meringue after initial baking
6 tbsp. white granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 375°F.

Mix together the sugar, flour and salt. Beat eggs slightly. Mix in the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, and salt mixture) to the eggs. Then mix in the rhubarb and vanilla extract.

Pour mixture in an unbaked pie shell and bake for 8 minutes at 375°F, then reduce the temperature to 325°F for 25 minutes, or until the center is set.

To make the meringue, beat the egg whites until stiff. Beat in the sugar. Once stiff, cover the entire pie with the meringue and bake 8 minutes longer, or until golden.

This rhubarb pie recipe was submitted by Loucille Howalt. Recipe shared from the Grandma Wore an Apron cookbook, compiled by members and friends of the Crippled Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD.

This rhubarb cake recipe article was written for Hobby Farms magazine online. Click here to subscribe.

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