Rhubarb Spice Loaf: Perking Up Quick Bread

This Rhubarb Spice Loaf is another of my sweetly unrefined dishes, sweet treats made with less refined or natural sugars. In this case, I used organic cane sugar and local honey. Sweetly unrefined recipes also use less sweetener than many classic recipes, and often rely on fruits to add sweetness and flavour. And, in the case of rhubarb, tanginess!Rhubarb Spice Loaf │ © UrbanCottageLife.com

Rhubarb season is waning, and while I didn’t manage to get any rhubarb into the freezer this year, I see they have it at the grocery store. So, I’ll be able to enjoy this Rhubarb Spice Loaf all year long. And so will you.

Did you know that quick breads like this one are loaves leavened without yeast, instead relying on baking soda or baking powder for their lift? Of course, the eggs also help with leavening. What this means is that you can whip up a batch of quick bread batter in about 10 minutes and put it right into the oven to bake. No waiting for yeast to rise. The term quick bread applies to a broad range of baked goods, even cakes and cookies, but I reserve it for loaves like banana bread, date loaf and cranberry orange walnut loaf. Oh, and since it’s strawberry season as I write this, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my strawberry tea loaf.

Rhubarb Spice Loaf │ © UrbanCottageLife.com

I had a few remaining stalks of rhubarb on hand last week and decided they’d be just the thing in a loaf, along with some warmly sweet spices: cinnamon, cardamom and ginger.

I cut the rhubarb into quarter-inch slices, yielding about two cups’ worth. Then I put them in a small pot, added a mere splash of water and heated it up on the stove, covered. I checked and stirred frequently, and when some of the rhubarb had softened to mush and other pieces were tender but still holding their shape, I set it aside to cool while pulling the rest of the ingredients together. The resulting stewed rhubarb and its juices came to about 1 1/4 cups.

The result was a dense loaf with a pleasing, mildly spicy aroma and flavour, with bursts of tangy rhubarb. I’ve enjoyed it simply sliced and plain but wouldn’t say no to a slathering of maple butter. I’ve also served it with some vanilla ice cream and sliced strawberries … sort of a Rhubarb Spice Loaf strawberry shortcake. Good stuff!

Rhubarb Spice Loaf │ © UrbanCottageLife.com

Rhubarb Spice Loaf

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© Marlene Cornelis, Urban Cottage Life 2017

Rhubarb Spice Loaf │ © UrbanCottageLife.comThere’s something old-fashioned and comforting about slicing into a loaf cake to enjoy with your coffee or tea. The rhubarb in this one provides a burst of perkiness that makes you sit up and take note. With cane sugar and honey, it’s a sweetly unrefined way to remake an old classic.

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9×5-inch loaf pan by buttering or oiling it, then lining it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on each side to help in lifting out the finished cake.

Note, 2019 06 23: Thanks to an eagle-eyed reader, I’ve updated the recipe to correct the amount of baking powder.

  • 2 cups sliced rhubarb, about 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Begin by lightly stewing the rhubarb. Add the sliced rhubarb to a small pot along with about 1/8 cup of water. The rhubarb will release its juices so you want to start with only a scant amount of water so you don’t end up with too much liquid. Cover and bring to a high simmer over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to low. Stir occasionally, until about half of the rhubarb is mushy and rest is tender but holding its shape. This will take about five minutes or so. Set the pot aside, uncovered, to cool.

Meanwhile, put the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger in a bowl and stir with a fork or whisk to distribute everything well. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer, cream the butter until light. Add the sugar and honey and cream for four or five minutes. (If you aren’t used to using cane sugar, it takes longer to incorporate into the butter than granulated white sugar would.) Scrape the bowl, then add the eggs and vanilla and mix until well blended.

Add the dry ingredients in two batches, mixing in on low speed. Then add the stewed rhubarb and its juices, mixing just until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to scrape the bottom and do a final folding of the batter.

Dollop the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the spatula. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 50 minutes, or until the top is golden and cracked, and a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack for about five minutes, then lift the cake out and let it finish cooling on the rack.


  1. This sounds good but I wonder about the amount of baking powder. Is it really 1 1/2 tablespoons?

    • Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention, Mary Jane. I’ve corrected the recipe to read 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder. I appreciate your eagle eye!

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