Can’t get enough of rhubarb? This dreamy vegan loaf packs a double punch of the gorgeous pink vegetable. A luscious ribbon of homemade rhubarb butter runs through the middle of buttery quick bread. It is also packed full of chopped rhubarb. Whether you serve it for breakfast, teatime, or dessert, the Sweet Rhubarb Loaf Cake is sure to be a hit.
I’ve been racking my brains these past two weeks thinking of ways to use my Homemade Rhubarb Butter. Up to now it had functioned exclusively as a spread—on toast, in PB&J, etc.—which is not at all an efficient way to consume a whole jar of the stuff.
But then I stumbled on a Land O’Lakes recipe for rhubarb streusel bread (not vegan). Yes, that’s it! I was inspired! A perfect way to use up rhubarb butter by swirling it through the middle of a hearty loaf cake.
What You’ll Need
We’ll start with some softened vegan butter or margarine, which gives this loaf a pound cake-like texture.
1 cup of sugar provides the perfect level of sweetness needed. Note that sugar contributes both sweetness and structure to quick bread, so I do not recommend replacing it with a low-calorie substitute. (From my experience, it results in a dense loaf.) At most, I would substitute half a cup.
Soy Milk is important for ensuring that the baked loaf is not too crumbly. Not a fan of soy? You can use any milk of your choice.
Pastry flour, also known as cake flour, has lower protein (gluten) content than all purpose flour. This makes it better for cakes and other desserts, where the goal is a tender crumb, because you’re less likely to over-mix. You can still use all purpose flour, but just make sure to mix it as little as possible, on the lowest mixer speed possible (or do it by hand). If you over-work the batter, the cake will turn out dense and gummy.
Baking powder and baking soda are the leavening agents for this recipe, preventing the cake from becoming hard or dense. No eggs, no problem!
A tiny bit of salt balances out the sweet flavour.
And finally……… let’s talk about rhubarb and rhubarb butter!
Fresh vs Frozen Rhubarb
The star of the show here is rhubarb of course. Rhubarb season is over, but many of you might have rhubarb in your freezers from earlier this summer. This recipe is great because it works with either frozen or fresh rhubarb. You want the rhubarb to be diced pretty small so it completely softens up as it bakes.
Frozen rhubarb releases a lot of water when thawed, which you can drain away. (But don’t squeeze out all the water—you do want to retain some moisture to keep the loaf cake moist.)
Also, you can be pretty laissez faire about the exact amount of rhubarb you use. The recipe calls for 1 cup (150g) of fresh or frozen rhubarb, but you could add another 1⁄2 cup or so. On the other hand if you don’t have quite enough rhubarb for one cup, that’s fine, too. I would add some other chopped fruit if you have it on hand: berries, peaches, cherries, whatever. I’ve yet to find a fruit that doesn’t pair well with rhubarb.
I absolutely love making my rhubarb butter every summer. (If you have a slow cooker or Instant Pot, you can make your own easy hands-off rhubarb butter.) This stuff is so good, I sometimes eat it by the spoonful… although a tastier option would be to add it to this loaf 😉
Start by creaming together the butter/margarine and sugar. You can do this in a stand mixer or with a handheld electric mixer. Cream on high speed for 1–2 minutes, or until it’s light and fluffy. (The colour should be paler than what you started out with, due to air being whipped into the mixture).
Next, add soy milk, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to butter-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds or until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through. You don’t want to mix for too long in this step or you risk over-working the flour which will cause the loaf cake to be chewy and tough.
Fold in the diced rhubarb. Optional extra step: you can reserve about a third of a cup of rhubarb for sprinkling over the loaf before baking.
Now take a loaf pan (or six mini loaf pans) and line it with parchment paper. Add half of the batter to the pan.
Dollop the rhubarb butter on top.
Top with the remaining batter.
Optional step: If you held back some of the rhubarb from earlier, take the time now to press the reserved rhubarb into the top of the batter.
Bake in middle rack of oven at 350 °F for 50–60 minutes, or until the top is deep golden brown. Quick breads will be fragile and tend to fall apart when they’re fresh out of the oven. Let it cool fully so it becomes sturdy enough to slice and slather with butter and cream cheese and whatnot. I find both the taste and texture are best when the rhubarb loaf is fully cool.
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Double Rhubarb Dream Loaf
Use Imperial/Metric buttons below to toggle between volume vs weight measurements. I recommend weighing out your ingredients for best results.
- Electric hand mixer (this one from Black+Decker works a charm)
- Medium mixing bowl
- Using an electric mixer, cream margarine and sugar together on high speed for 1–2 minutes or until light and fluffy.
- Add soy milk, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the bowl. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds or until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through.
- Fold in the diced rhubarb. (Optionally, you can reserve 1/3 cup of rhubarb for sprinkling over the loaf in Step 6).
- Grease a loaf pan or line with parchment paper. Add half of the batter to the pan.
- Layer the rhubarb butter on top. Top with remaining batter.
- Optional: Press the reserved pieces of rhubarb from Step 3 into the top of the batter.
- Bake in middle rack of oven at 350 °F for 50–60 minutes, or until the top is deep golden brown.
- Let cool completely before slicing.