Rhubarb and strawberries prepared in a cake tin

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumb Cake

This rhubarb and strawberry crumb cake recipe is vegan (of course) and consists of just a few simple ingredients. There’s nothing complicated about making it either, although one tip is to use an electric whisk to mix the sponge. You’ll find it easier than mixing by hand and the end result will be fluffier and smoother.

Jump to Recipe

The idea for this recipe first crept up on me as I was casually walking around my local supermarket. All of a sudden, these fresh rhubarb stalks just jumped out at me and shouted “It’s rhubarb crumble time, baby!”. By the time I got home, I had decided that I fancied experimenting a bit and that the classic British crumble just wasn’t gonna cut it. As I live in Berlin, I decided to take inspiration from the German “Streuselkuchen”, or crumb cake.

I originally made this recipe just with rhubarb, but if you have a sweet tooth and don’t want to add too much additional sugar, I recommend you add the strawberries. What I love about this duo is that the tartness of the Rhubarb is complemented by the sweetness of the strawberries – these two work seriously great together!

The main ingredients for the sponge
Fresh strawberries in a bowl

Is rhubarb from outer space?

If I recall correctly, I’d never baked with Rhubarb before. I would always shy away from it as it has quite a notorious reputation for being, well, just weird. The red/green stalks are edible and you can even eat it raw (without sugar if you’re brave enough), but make sure you remove the leaves because the leaves are poisonous.

Washed and chopped rhubarb

Aside from the fact that rhubarb is technically a vegetable, its bitter taste alone can scare people off. That’s why it’s often paired with sweeter fruits such as strawberries, which counteract the tartness and means that you don’t need to add too much additional sugar.

I must say that, despite pretty much making this recipe up as I went along, the first attempt was quite a success! I’ve since made this a couple of times and the results are consistently delicious. If you get past rhubarb’s unusual profile and once you know how to bake with it, you’ll be coming back for seconds or thirds!

Is rhubarb a superfood?

The short answer is yes!

Let’s take a quick look at the nutrition profile of this mysterious pink and green vegetable. The fact is that it’s basically packed full of stuff that our body needs. It’s not only an excellent source of dietary fibre, it contains a good wallop of vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and manganese. Oh, and I almost forgot – it’s also a great plant-based source of calcium.

To top off that impressive list, it’s also low in saturated fat and sodium. With a long history in traditional Chinese medicine, rhubarb’s many properties means that it can also be used to treat ailments such as constipation, diarrhoea and fever.

Some preparation tips

Unlike a typical British rhubarb crumble, there’s no need to stew or cook the rhubarb beforehand. Just remove any leaves (remember, they are poisonous!) and give the stalks a good rinse in water to remove any dirt. Slice into 1-inch pieces. I use fresh organic fruit which is more expensive but it’s worth it for the best flavour.

Chop the rhubarb into 1-inch thick slices
Use an electric whisk to mix the sponge

The fun part is arranging the fruit! Be as creative or as lazy as you feel like here. I decided, purely for Instagramable purposes, that the strawberries looked wonderful arranged in circular patterns with the inside hearts facing up – as you can see and admire my artwork in the delicious-looking photo below. The end result however is that the fruit goes kind of mushy anyway, so you really could just get away with tossing it on there and your afternoon tea guests would be none the wiser.

Rhubarb and strawberries arranged in the cake pan
The cake ready to put in the oven
Close up of the layers of the cake. Sponge, fruit then crumble
The cake is ready to serve

I hope that more people decide to give this “space vegetable” a try and that this cake turns out well for you if you try it at home. Are you already a rhubarb expert? let me know how you usually prepare and cook it in the comments below. Before the season is completely over, I’d love to try out more rhubarb recipes – so, please inspire me!

Have fun baking with this not-as-scary-as-you-think vegetable. I’m off to enjoy the last crumbly piece with a cuppa.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumb Cake

A classic combo of tart rhubarb with sweet strawberries make up the filling for this vegan crumb cake. The fruit is sandwiched between a sponge cake bottom and a crumb topping which makes it irresistibly scrumptious.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British, German
Keyword: Rhubarb, Strawberries
Servings: 8

Equipment

  • 9 inch (22 cm) circular cake pan
  • Food processor or mixer with a whisk attachment

Ingredients

Fruit

  • 300 g fresh rhubarb stalks sliced in 1-inch pieces
  • 200 g fresh strawberries chopped in half lengthways
  • 8 g vanilla sugar

Sponge base

  • 225 g unbleached all-purpose wheat flour
  • 150 g unrefined organic cane sugar
  • 250 ml unsweetened plant-based milk I used oat milk but you can use soya, almond, rice etc
  • 50 ml sunflower oil plus a little extra for greasing the cake pan
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt I used Himalayan salt

Crumble (Streusel) topping

  • 120 g unbleached all-purpose wheat flour
  • 60 g unrefined organic cane sugar
  • 50 ml sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp plant-based milk
  • 1 pinch salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Grease a circular cake pan with a splash of sunflower oil.

Preparing the fruit

  • Wash the rhubarb stalks thoroughly with fresh water, chop the top and bottom ends off and discard.
  • Slice the rhubarb into 1 inch pieces. Place the chopped rhubarb pieces in a bowl, and toss to combine with the vanilla sugar.
  • Wash the fresh strawberries with fresh water, remove the leaves then chop into halves.

Crumble / Streusel

  • Add all crumble ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  • Rub together with your hands until it’s combined into a crumbly texture. It should be moist enough to clump together into small pieces.
  • If the mixture is too floury, add a dash extra of milk and mix until the crumbs stick together.

Sponge Base

  • In the food processor (or a mixing bowl) add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk until combined.
  • Add the oil and the milk, and continue to whisk until the mixture is completely combined. Pause to scrape down the sides if needed.
  • Pour the mixture into the greased cake pan.
  • Cover the sponge mixture evenly with the rhubarb pieces.
  • Place the strawberry halves on top of the rhubarb, spacing evenly in rings starting from the outside and finishing in the centre of the pan.
  • Sprinkle the crumbs evenly across the top of the cake.
  • Bake for approx. 30 minutes. It’s ready when a knife comes out clean from the centre. Note: the knife might not come out completely clean because of the fruit so a good signal that it’s done is once the topping has gone golden brown.

Notes

Most of my recipes use fresh, organic ingredients which are the least processed possible. In this recipe I use unrefined raw cane sugar as well as unbleached wheat flour. You can try to sub with white sugar and white flour if you really need to but I can’t guarantee the outcome will be the same.

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