Rhubarb, Strawberry and Raspberry Anise Upside Down Cake


This cake pays homage to the change in season and that in between state of flux. It’s a celebration of the closing of one season and the welcome of another.

As we exit spring and dive into early summer, I’ve chosen a combination of fruits that overlap the two: Rhubarb is of course spring produce – in this recipe I’ve used some from my mother-in-law’s garden, and although local strawberries are tasting pretty sweet at the moment, the raspberries have a little way to go.

A pineapple upside down cake was one of the first things I learned to cook in Home Economics. I’m sure it was the same for you if you were born in the early 1980s, or even earlier.

I’ve actually used birch sugar (Xylitol) in the sponge mixture, which is low calorie and a natural, unrefined option that doesn’t give you the rushes and crashes of sugar. If you prefer, you can use refined caster sugar, simply replace with the exact same quantities.

That said, I did use brown soft sugar in the fruit topping. I think you need the brown sugar to caramalise the fruit but I may be wrong. I’ll take the plunge with birch sugar next time when I haven’t got friends coming over for a wedge.


So here’s the recipe.

Rhubarb, Strawberry, Raspberry & Star Anise Upside Down Cake

80g unsalted organic butter

125g soft brown sugar

200g (2 stalks) rhubarb, cut into 6cm pieces

150g Xylitol

250g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground ginger

225ml sunflower oil

1 handful of strawberries (around 6)

1 handful of raspberries (around 8)

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

4 whole star anise


Preheat oven to 180C

  1. Butter a spring form cake tin (around 24cm) and line with a round of greaseproof paper. (Although, this time, I actually managed to make the mixture stretch across 2 x 20cm cake tins. If using 2x 20cm tins, reduce cooking time by 10 minutes – the finished cake won’t be as deep but still deep enough.)
  2. Place the brown sugar and butter in the greased cake tin and pop in the oven for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Remove tin from the oven. Press the raw rhubarb and star anise into the melted butter and brown sugar in the tin and then gentle place the other berries in the spaces.
  4. Mix the sugar, ground ginger, flour and baking powder in a large bowl then beat in the oil and eggs. Pour the mixture – which will be heavier and thicker than your average victoria sponge mix – over the fruit in the tin and pop the cake tin to the oven for about 55 minutes or when a skewer comes out clean.
  5. Cool the cake for a few minutes before you fold back the edges of greaseproof paper and turn the cake upside down on to a plate.
  6. Serve with oat cream (or single dairy cream or creme fraiche)



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