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Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake

by Lori on May 20th, 2011

A slice of coffee cake, take one
When it comes to rhubarb, you likely either love it or hate it. I definitely love it. Ken is not a huge fan. However, I may have won him over with this coffee cake.

The Story

As I took this cake out of the oven, Ken came into the kitchen and asked, “What smells so good?” When I answered, “rhubarb coffee cake,” he wrinkled his nose in disgust. Then I mentioned strawberries and pecans were in it too. He decided to try it.
A slice of coffee cake, take two

After he finished his second piece of cake, I considered it a success.

Not all of my rhubarb-baking experiments have been successful. A few years ago I tried to make a rhubarb cheesecake. I had made cheesecake many times before. I even had a fabulous metal springform pan, with removable sides, perfect for making perfect-looking cheesecakes.

However, I had never made a rhubarb cheesecake before, and my attempt was far from perfect. After baking it, I removed the sides of my trusty springform pan. I was horrified to discover the sides of the cheesecake and the pan were blueish green. I tossed the cheesecake and scrubbed the pan. As much as I scrubbed, I couldn’t remove the blue-green color. I had no idea metal and rhubarb would react that way. I learned a valuable lesson about baking  rhubarb — and bought a new springform pan.

The Moral of the Story

Rhubarb and strawberries go great together. Rhubarb and metal baking pans do not. If it has rhubarb in it, bake it in a glass dish.
Coffee cake baked and cooling, take six

About the Recipe

This recipe is adapted from a rhubarb coffee cake recipe in Everything Rhubarb. This book is about an annual rhubarb festival held in Lanesboro, Minnesota. Someday I hope to go to this festival, which features songs about rhubarb, games using rhubarb, and most importantly, a rhubarb-tasting contest.

Everything Rhubarb book, take one

The book also includes a variety of rhubarb recipes — from rhubarb coffee cake to rhubarb ketchup!

The Cast of Characters

Rhubarb, pecans and strawberry, take one
In this coffee cake, rhubarb shares the stage with strawberries and pecans.

The Play-by-Play

In a stand mixer, mix together shortening and brown sugar.
Creaming shortening and brown sugar, take four

Add an egg.
Adding egg

In another bowl, mix together flour, salt and baking soda.
Flour mixture

Alternately add the flour mixture and sour cream to the batter.
Coffee cake batter, take three

Stir in the rhubarb.
Adding rhubarb, take three

Fold in the strawberries.
Adding strawberries, take one

Spread the batter into a glass baking dish.
Coffee cake batter in baking dish, take three

With two forks, mix together butter, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and pecans.
Sugar, butter and nuts, take one

Sprinkle the nut mixture on top of the coffee cake.
Coffee cake topped with streusel, take two

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes.
Coffee cake baking

Cool the baked cake on a wire rack.
Coffee cake baked and cooling, take one

Slice and serve.
A slice of coffee cake, take six

Recipe: Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Summary: Adapted from Everything Rhubarb’s Rhubarb Coffee Cake recipe, which is also available on the Lanesboro Annual Rhubarb Festival website.


3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup chopped rhubarb
3/4 cup chopped strawberries
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/8 cup white sugar
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a stand mixer, blend together 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup shortening. Then mix in the egg.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. Alternately mix the flour mixture and sour cream into the sugar and shortening mixture.
  5. With a soon or spatula, gently fold in the rhubarb.
  6. After the rhubarb is thoroughly incorporated into the batter, gently fold in the strawberries.
  7. Spread the batter into a greased 8×8-inch glass baking dish.
  8. In another bowl, blend together the butter, white sugar, remaining 1/8 cup of brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir the pecans into the butter sugar mixture.
  9. Sprinkle the sugared and buttered pecans on top of the coffee cake.
  10. Bake for 35-45 minutes.
  11. Let cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

The Footnotes

  • About the baking pan: Do not use a metal pan for the reasons I mentioned earlier. Bake this cake in a glass baking dish.
  • About baking time: The cake baked a bit faster than I expected. Next time I may take it out of the oven after 35 minutes instead of baking the full 45 minutes.

Baking time (duration): 35-45 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 9 servings (Makes one 8×8-inch cake)

Meal type: breakfast

My rating: 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)
Considering this recipe got Ken to eat rhubarb, I should give it 10 stars.

Additional Resources

Now that it is officially rhubarb season, I’m on the hunt for new rhubarb recipes. The Everything Rhubarb book has many great recipes. These bloggers are using rhubarb in creative ways too:

What’s your favorite rhubarb recipe?

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