Rhubarb Streusel Coffee Cake with Vanilla Sauce

Old Fashioned Rhubarb Coffee Cake with Vanilla Sauce. Not a "looker" of a recipe but you'll forgive that at the first taste!

Every spring I hafta make this coffee cake and this is not just any old coffee cake, it’s my Rhubarb Coffee Cake with a Vanilla Streusel and to top it all off, a Vanilla Sauce. Did you get all that? It’s a one, two, three punch of sweet tart goodness.

Rhubarb Streusel Coffee Cake with Vanilla Sauce

Over the top and out of bounds, hands down, Rhubarb Streusel Coffee Cake is one of my all time faves. This spring, I’m rewriting & reposting with new photos. (Look at the pic at the bottom of the page and you’ll see why! And besides, you need this for Mother’s day!!)

This Rhubarb Streusel Coffee Cake with Vanilla Sauce is just full of tart rhubarb goodness and chopped finely, the rhubarb all but melts into the cake. The streusel topping makes a thin, shiny crispy layer across the top, although that does soften with storage, so it’s at it’s very best the same day.

And the vanilla sauce? At first glance, you might suspect it could be a bit bland but trust me, it’s not. It’s almost like a melty candy. This is just a medley of goodness.

Rhubarb Streusel Coffee Cake with Vanilla Sauce

This recipe came out of a big old Bed & Breakfast cookbook I picked up back in the 90’s. Picture yourself back in time now, sitting on wicker chairs on the white washed porch of some big old Victorian mansion, Boston ferns waving in the breeze and slice of this!

A few of our family favorites have come from this Bed & Breakfast book, Kaltenbach Farms Sloppy Joes, for one & Potato Cheese Breakfast Bake for another. This one is from the Inn at Sea Street in Hyannis, Cape Cod, Maryland.

Rhubarb Streusel Coffee Cake with Vanilla Sauce

Now, I’m not gonna lie. This is NOT one of the prettiest coffee cakes in the pan, but plated and drizzled with the sauce, you’ll see just how useful all those little dents in the top are. They hold some of the sauce as the rest pools. This is just the thing to serve for family casual company that stops by.

The sauce can easily be made ahead and the cake is super simple. No mixer needed. (It would be perfect for a budding baker.) I thought this would be a great recipe to show off my “Miracle Goop“; a homemade quick release mixture for cakes. It works very well on this cake, which has a tendency to be a little sticky. I made this today in a 9 x 13″ pan but if you’d like a higher cake, try a 9 x 9” pan.

Rhubarb Streusel Coffee Cake with Vanilla Sauce

Rhubarb Coffee Cake with a Vanilla Sauce

  • Servings: 18
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups diced (about 3/8’s to 1/2″) rhubarb (see note)
Streusel Topping:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
Vanilla Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup cream or evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (or use my “Goop”) on a 9 by 13″ or 9-inch square baking dish and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add melted butter, sugar, egg and buttermilk. Whisk together.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture, and beat until just moistened. A few small lumps are fine.

Fold in the chopped rhubarb. Pour and spread the batter into the prepared pan.

In a small bowl, combine the butter and sugar for the topping. Sprinkle evenly over the batter. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top of the cake is lightly browned.

For the sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar and evaporated milk or cream. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute; it will slightly thicken. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools, rewarm slightly to serve.

Note on rhubarb: When I bake this in a 9 x 13″ pan, I generally use the smaller amount of rhubarb; it helps the cake hold together better. When baking in a smaller pan, use the larger amount.

note: This streusel forms a gorgeous, slightly crispy layer but softens by the next day. We like it best regardless, but for a more classic streusel, increase butter to 4 tablespoons and add 1/2 cup of flour.

From the kitchen of http://www.frugalhausfrau.com

Rhubarb Streusel Coffee Cake (original photo!)
Nutrition Facts
Servings 18.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 229
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9 g 13 %
Saturated Fat 5 g 26 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 33 mg 11 %
Sodium 189 mg 8 %
Potassium 44 mg 1 %
Total Carbohydrate 36 g 12 %
Dietary Fiber 1 g 3 %
Sugars 26 g
Protein 3 g 6 %
Vitamin A 7 %
Vitamin C 2 %
Calcium 5 %
Iron 0 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.


I’ll be bringing this recipe by Fiesta Friday # 177. I’m seeing lots of beautiful brunch dishes there for Mother’s Day!

82 thoughts on “Rhubarb Streusel Coffee Cake with Vanilla Sauce”

    1. Well, busy and I lost my computer – I ended up after many attempts to fix, wiping it and reinstalling windows. And I’m so bad at backing up, I lost pretty much everything. Lesson learned!! And my computer guru brother is off to sea in his sailboat so I had to learn how to do it all myself………………

      1. I’m so sorry Mollie!! Did you lose photos??? Hope not! I know I depend on my own “computer guru” all the time– didn’t your brother know he should stick around in case you needed him?? Hope you can recover things when he’s back! take care. xox

  1. Hey Frugal Hausfrau!! We find your blog so inspiring and find so many things on your blog that I relate to! We were wondering if you could give us a follow! We would appreciate it so much! -Charlotte and Sophia

  2. Looks luscious Mollie! Don’t you love to come back to old favorite recipes again and again. favorite photo– the last one with the cake sitting in the puddle of sauce– i wish I could dig in!! Happy Happy Mothers Day!! xox

  3. I’m not really a rhubarb fan but the vanilla sauce looks delicious. A good addition to my repertoire along with salted caramel or fudgy chocolate sauce. 🙂

    1. Thanks! I hate to repost because it makes the old post go away and you get one of those 404 errors, but the pics were so bad no one ever looked at it! There’s still some on the counter and I am trying not to think about it!!

    1. Quite a bit fluffier, but as I looked at the photos with that sauce, it reminded me of a post for my raspberry white chocolate bread pudding! Now that’s another fave!!

  4. Love this too!! Love eating rhubarb and making a coffee cake with it is fantastic! Everything about this cake is amazing!! The Cake, the streusal topping and that vanilla sauce?? Incredible! It’s so great to host FF with you this week! 🙂 ❤ Dini

    1. Thanks, Jhuls – it’s my first time hosting and I’m having so much fun visiting bloggers I haven’t “met” before! Only now, I am faced with so many hard decisions! It’s a fun, easy coffee cake, by the way.

  5. i love the combo vanilla&rhubarb.I would try to make it, but here is not so easy to find rhubarb every time of the year. Love the sauce you made.

    1. That is a shame! It’s said that housewives had to smuggle seeds across the prairies because when they went on the wagon trains they were very strict about what could and couldn’t be brought because they had to keep the weight down. It’s very common all across the northern part of the US. I do chop it up and freeze it.

  6. My rhubarb is huge and is YELLING at me to “c’mon and pick me, already!”

    I’m always on the lookout for new and scrumptious recipes for said veg and I shall definitely have to add this one to my roster!


      1. Oh! Thank you!
        One year my husband ran through my rhubarb with a rototiller (the big machine)! I wanted to kill him except the following year I had 3 times as much!

        1. it’s funny you mentioned that! I actually did decide to remove it a couple years ago because it was doing so poorly – the next year it sprang up considerably bigger!

  7. Oh my, Mollie! This is one irresistible cake. The only thing that could make it even more perfect is having it right on the porch of that Cape Cod Inn! I hope you acquired that cookbook after staying there yourself!

    1. I only wish! I haven’t traveled to the east much – it’s one of my dreams just to take a month or two and travel back to where my ancestors settled. The times I’ve been back east were just too hurried!

    1. Thanks Ginger – I probably should have noted that the photo looks more yellow than it should! The sun is low this time of year and doesn’t clear the massive amount of trees – everything is yellow/green! I need to learn how to adjust light balance!

        1. They flourish in areas where there are hot summers and cold winters, although there are certain varieties that can be nursed along in the South. Once the winter freeze it all wilts and then regrows the next spring, one of the first things that comes up with the warm weather. Rhubarb takes a couple years to get large enough to produce but then seems to thrive on neglect and lives for decades! And that’s about everything I know, lol!

    1. Thanks, Josette! Hosting has been fun and I’ve met a ton of fun newtome bloggers! 🙂

      I have a puny plant but I have a neighbor who let’s me borrow rhubarb if I return part of it in the form of a baked good! 🙂 Great deal all around! 🙂

    1. Thanks Mum! I have to say that I used to shortcut the buttermilk often with a milk/vinegar mixture and it works, but I think the richer buttermilk makes a difference. The vanilla sauce, goes without saying, is better with the cream option! 🙂

      1. I’ve been fighting off a miserable sore throat and fever so I’m just throwing together basic meals this past week but, in a couple of weeks, when work ends for the summer and I get my energy back, I hope to try a few more challenging meals and dishes.

            1. Fantastic! I love just a touch of cardamon – but I have to say I didn’t when I was younger. The first time I tried it I was like, ewww! Either my tastebuds have worn down or my tastes have improved!

              1. I think tastes really change as you get older. I now like fresh coriander leaves but I STILL hate raw tomatoes. That’s why I try things again over the years. Just in case.

    1. Thanks, Susanne! The rhubarb is just the best! I’ve loved it since I was a kid and my brother and I would sit out in the yard and pick stalks to dip in our blue melamine sugar bowl! The original sweet/tart candy, maybe!

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