Rabarberkage Swedish Rhubarb Cake Recipe

Rabarberkage is a traditional Swedish Rhubarb Cake, which is a popular dessert to bake when celebrating the Scandinavian Midsommar holiday.

Our easy homemade recipe features a soft vanilla sponge cake topped with luscious pastry cream and chunks of juicy cardamom scented rhubarb chunks.

We love making this delicious seasonal cake recipe in the spring and summer when fresh rhubarb is in season.

Serve a slice of Rabarberkage with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or strawberry gelato and a whisper of vanilla whipped cream for a truly mouth-watering dessert.

Save this story to Pinterest! 

Save our Rabarberkage Swedish Rhubarb Cake recipe to Pinterest!
Save our Rabarberkage Swedish Rhubarb Cake recipe to Pinterest!

What Is Rabarberkage?

Rabarberkage, or Swedish Rhubarb Cake, is a traditional dessert from Scandinavia that is usually enjoyed during the summer months. You can also find Rabarberkage sold at bakeries in Norway and Denmark.

The cake has a light and fluffy texture, with a slightly tart flavour from the rhubarb. It’s usually served with whipped cream or ice cream on top.

Our Rabarberkage is easy to assemble, featuring 3 main components: a soft and fluffy vanilla sponge cake, creamy pastry cream and chunks of roasted rhubarb.

Spices like cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg are typically tossed with sugar in a bowl with the chopped rhubarb to give the overall cake a festive flavour.

Want to read the latest stories?

Receive email updates when new stories are published.

Traditional Swedish Rabarberkage recipe ingredients.
Traditional Swedish Rabarberkage recipe ingredients.

Rhubarb History & Uses

Rhubarb has been around forever, thank the Lord!

First known in Asia around 2700 BC and introduced to Europe around the 14th century, rhubarb was once a highly valuable commodity costing more than rare spices like saffron and cinnamon, and valued for its laxative qualities, common knowledge in Shakespearean times: “What rhubarb, cyme, or what purgative drug, Would scour these English hence?” growled Macbeth. He was talking about the roots; it would be another couple of centuries before home cooks started using the stalks.

Scandinavian cooks love cooking and baking with rhubarb. The fibrous stalks are typically harvested in Europe and North America in the late Spring and early Summer. In Sweden the tart fruit can be found in many culinary treats including jams, jellies, pies, cakes, ice cream and sparkling cider.

Way back when, a common and affordable sweet for children in parts of the United Kingdom and Sweden was a tender stick of rhubarb, dipped in sugar. It is still eaten this way in Finland, Norway, Canada, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Faroe Islands and Sweden.

Rhubarb as a central ingredient mostly shows up in desserts like pies, crumbles and crisps, but it can also hold its own in haute cuisine.

At Noma in Copenhagen, repeatedly voted the world’s best restaurant, the tender stalks have been served with milk curds. Thomas Keller features it in his cookbook The French Laundry as a confit paired with navel oranges, candied fennel, and mascarpone sorbet. Think of rhubarb as a ruffian weed that’s climbed the culinary ladder—one theory posits that one of the origins of the name has the “barb” part stemming from the same etymological root as “barbarian”.

Our Swedish Rhubarb Cake recipe features our favourite tart fruit, which is typically harvested during the Spring and Summer baking season.

Rhubarb Cake is often enjoyed in Sweden during the popular Midsommar festival. It’s one of our favourite celebratory cakes to serve at a festive dessert table for friends and family.

You May Also Enjoy These Rhubarb Recipes…

Rabarberkage is made with a cake batter, pastry cream and chopped rhubarb.
Rabarberkage is made with a cake batter, pastry cream and chopped rhubarb.

History of Midsommar in Sweden

Midsommar is an annual festival celebrated in Scandinavian countries such as Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.

The Midsommar period of time is centred around the summer solstice, typically between June 19 and June 25. The ancient celebration predates Christianity, and existed under different names and traditions around the world. 

In Sweden, Midsummer is such an important festivity that there have been proposals to make the Midsummer’s Eve into the National Day of Sweden, instead of June 6. In Latvia, Midsummer’s Jāņi festival is a public holiday. In Denmark and Norway, it may also be referred to as St. Hans Day.

Midsommar in Sweden is marked by families raising and dancing around a maypole (majstång or midsommarstång). Greenery placed over houses and barns was supposed to bring good fortune and health to people and livestock; this old tradition of decorating with greens continues. To decorate with greens was called att maja (to may) and may be the origin of the word majstångmaja coming originally from the month May.

In ancient pagan rites, bonfires were lit to protect families from evil spirits who were considered free to wander when the sun was going south. The May tree refers to a phallic symbol commonly used in pagan rites to symbolize the fertility and durability of harvest in the Viking era.

Like in Norway and Finland, it is believed that if a girl picks 7 different flowers in silence of the midsummer night and puts them underneath her pillow, she will dream of her future husband.

Another tradition on Swedish Midsummer is to end it with a skinny dip at night. It’s not mandatory to be naked, but many swim completely naked accompanied with a partner after a couple sips of schnapps!

In 2019, traditions and iconography from Swedish folklore were displayed in the much talked about Midsommar film. Dubbed the most haunting horror film of the year, director Ari Aster filmed a terrifying tale of a creepy Swedish Midsommar feast. Sadly, actress Florence Pugh was never given the opportunity to indulge in a slice of Rabarberkage. For shame!

Bake Rabarberkage in a springform pan.
Bake Rabarberkage in a springform pan.

Travel To Sweden by Making Rabarberkage at Home

I love traveling to Europe!

During my first visit to the continent I traveled for 5 months by train and plane. I had the opportunity to eat my way through IrelandScotlandEnglandWalesPortugalSpainFranceBelgiumHollandRussiaEstoniaPolandCzech RepublicGermanyAustriaCroatiaBosniaHungarySlovakiaGreeceTurkey and Italy.

I’ve also traveled extensively through Scandinavia, eating my way through the best restaurants in WestfjordsReykjavikHelsinkiOslo, Bergen, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Goteborg.

My fondest food memory of Sweden is the country’s enthusiasm for cakes and pies! I was in Goteborg on Midsommar, instantly falling in love with Jordgubbstårta, Smörgåstårta and authentic Swedish Rhubarb Cake thanks to all the local bakeries selling thick slices.

There’s nothing more delightful than sipping a frothy cappuccino at a Swedish bakery while forking through a soft and fluffy slice of Rabarberkage. A perfect pairing includes sparkling rhubarb alcoholic cider and a scoop of vanilla ice cream and strawberry gelato.

Once back home from a Scandinavian holiday you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the flavours of Sweden and can impress friends and family by making your very own homemade Rabarberkage recipe!

Rabarberkage is usually baked during Midsommar holidays in Sweden.
Rabarberkage is usually baked during Midsommar holidays in Sweden.

My Family Loves Swedish Rhubarb Cake

After encountering Rabarberkage on a visit to Sweden during Midsommar I thought I should introduce the dessert to my family.

I knew my family would love this tart cake because my mother has a huge heritage rhubarb plant in our backyard. The rhubarb “bush” was gifted to my mother by my grandmother many decades ago. It’s resilience is unmatched in the backyard garden, having been transplanted to our homes in Markham, Oakville, Toronto and Muskoka over the years.

My family typically bakes rhubarb into muffins, pies and tarts so incorporating the stalks into a cake was a new and novel indulgence. When we feel like we need to add a little decadence to our lives we’ll fill a springform pan with this Rabarberkage recipe.

Rhubarb pairs beautifully with the flavours of vanilla and cardamom in this otherworldly cake.

Rabarberkage Swedish Rhubarb Cake Photo Image.
Rabarberkage Swedish Rhubarb Cake Photo Image.

Rabarberkage Recipe Baking Tips

Ready to bake our homemade Swedish Rhubarb Cake? We suggest reading the recipe directions below in detail to ensure you understand the step by step process. Here are some ticks and ticks to get you started:

  • We suggest using fresh rhubarb whenever possible. Our family has 3 freezers in the house so we harvest and purchase a surplus of our favourite fruits to enjoy year round. If you have frozen rhubarb at home feel free to use it when making this homemade cake in the off season.
  • Be sure to chop the rhubarb into small, bite-sized pieces to ensure that it cooks evenly and is distributed throughout the cake.
  • We’ve flavoured the homemade pastry cream with vanilla extract but you can get creative with this recipe and substitute for almond extract if you prefer.
  • Since rhubarb and strawberry are such a classic pairing feel free to add sliced strawberries to the topping of the cake if you have a few berries hiding in the back of your fridge.
  • We like flavouring the the sweetened rhubarb with ground cardamom but you can substitute with cinnamon or nutmeg if you prefer.
  • For an extra special touch, sprinkle some sliced almonds on top of the cake before baking. You can also add an streusel crumb topping as an alternative.
  • This cake is very versatile you can easily swap out the rhubarb for poached apples or pears in the Fall or plums and peaches in the summer.
  • Instead of making a large cake you can prepare the ingredients in a muffin tin for individual portions.
Swedish Rhubarb Cake is the perfect dessert to serve in the Spring or Summer.
Swedish Rhubarb Cake is the perfect dessert to serve in the Spring or Summer.

What To Serve With Swedish Rhubarb Cake

While Swedish Rhubarb Cake is often served during Midsommar we love to enjoy this creamy fruit cake year round.

The eye-catching dessert is perfect for celebrating special occasions like birthdays, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, baby showers and bridal showers.

We think this easy Swedish Rhubarb Cake is best enjoyed as a slice all on its own or sipped with a pot of tea or coffee.

If you’re feeling truly decadent, we like to serve Rabarberkage with vanilla or strawberry ice cream.

If you’re hosting a Scandinavian inspired lunch or dinner you may like to serve this Swedish Rhubarb Cake recipe with these popular recipes:

Serve a slice of Rabarberkage cake with vanilla or strawberry ice cream.
Serve a slice of Rabarberkage cake with vanilla or strawberry ice cream.

How To Store Rabarberkage

If you have leftover cake store slices in a container or under a cake dome in the fridge for 3-4 days.

You can also store this cake in the freezer for up to 6 months. Since rhubarb is seasonal we often like to double the recipe and store an entire cake in the freezer to enjoy in the winter.

You May Also Enjoy These Pie and Cake Recipes…

Now you're an expert on how to make traditional Rabarberkage Swedish Rhubarb Cake!
Now you’re an expert on how to make traditional Rabarberkage Swedish Rhubarb Cake!

How To Make Traditional Swedish Rhubarb Cake

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Rabarberkage Swedish Rhubarb Cake

How to make traditional Rabarberkage. Our homemade Swedish Rhubarb Cake recipe features a soft sponge, pastry cream and cardamom rhubarb.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 50 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: swedish
Keyword: rabarberkage
Servings: 8
Calories: 487kcal


  • 9 inch springform pan greased and lined with parchment
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • saucepan
  • Mixing bowls
  • whisk
  • Stand Mixer


Pastry Cream

  • 170 ml Milk
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Egg
  • 35 g White Sugar
  • 10 g Cornstarch
  • Pinch Kosher Salt
  • 10 g Butter


  • 175 g Butter softened
  • 200 g White Sugar
  • 4 Eggs lightly beaten
  • 200 g All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1.5 tsp Baking Powder


  • 400 g Rhubarb
  • 30 g Butter
  • 50 g White Sugar
  • 2 tsp Ground Cardamom


Pastry Cream

  • In a saucepan, heat the milk with vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and sugar then add the cornstarch.
  • When the milk has just reached the boiling point, take off the heat and pour 1/3 into the egg mixture while whisking continuously.
  • Once whisked through, pour the egg mixture back into the remaining hot milk. Return to the stove and bring to a gentle boil. Whisk continuously as the mixture thickens, for just a minute. Remove from heat and stir in the salt and butter.
  • Pour into a cold bowl and place a sheet of parchment on top to prevent the cream form forming a crust as it cools.


  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • First, make the topping. Wash the rhubarb and chop into 3/4 inch pieces.
  • In a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then stir in the white sugar and ground cardamom. Add the chopped rhubarb, stir to coat in the butter and stew for 2-3 minutes then remove from the heat to set aside and infuse.
  • To make the cake, cream together the butter and sugar in a stand mixer with a whisk attachement until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs to the mixture, bit by bit, whisking and scraping down the bowl.
  • Combine the dry ingredients and sift into the egg mixture. Fold in until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and spread out evenly. Spread the pastry cream evenly on top of the batter.
  • Remove the rhubarb from the syrup and scatter over the cake. Reserve the syrup for drizzling over the cake later.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. A skewer inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean. Remove from the pan and allow to cool slightly before drizzling with leftover syrup.
  • Cut into slices and serve.


Calories: 487kcal | Carbohydrates: 60.3g | Protein: 7.5g | Fat: 25.4g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 162mg | Sodium: 355mg | Potassium: 328mg | Fiber: 1.8g | Sugar: 37.6g | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 2mg

Some of the links in this story use affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase through our site, dobbernationLOVES will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps us to produce comprehensive content. 

Save this story to Pinterest! 

Tags: , , ,

Leave a reply