March 5, 2019


A couple of years ago I heard of a liqueur made from rhubarb, called Rhucello.  Being a huge fan of rhubarb I was keen to find some but this isn't easy.  It's made by a Yorkshire family from the beautiful pink rhubarb that is raised lovingly in the Rhubarb Triangle in Wakefield.  It is sold at food fairs up and down the country but until the other week I had never been in the UK at the right time to go and buy some.

When I heard that there was a Rhubarb Fair taking place in Wakefield and that the makers of Rhucello were having a stall there, only wild horses and six foot snow drifts would have kept me away!  After years of only dreaming about Rhucello I was at last able to get my hands on a bottle (or two) and, as the name implies, it tastes of rhubarb in the same way that Limoncello tastes of lemons. 
Not only does it taste delicious, it is also a gorgeous pink colour!
The Rhubarb Festival was great fun, lots of food and drink stalls selling anything and everything you could possibly make out of rhubarb from gin to chutney.  Also bars, a music tent and cookery demonstration tent.  We spotted Gordon Ramsay posting for selfies as we breezed between the stalls.  Naturally there was plenty of the beautiful pink rhubarb itself for sale and I bought a bundle.  That was just before we treated ourselves to a bowl each of delicious home made rhubarb crumble in the cathedral café - at £1.50 each a real bargain.
And so with visitors coming for lunch last weekend I decided to use some of my precious rhubarb to make an upside down cake using and adapting a recipe on the Guardian website that you can see here.
You arrange the rhubarb on a layer of sugar and butter in the bottom of a tin, cover with a sponge mixture and bake.
It was lovely, had a nice texture and just the right balance of sweetness from the caramel and tartness from the rhubarb.  Naturally we served it with a glass of our new rhubarb liqueur alongside!
For the topping
80g unsalted butter, diced
140g light soft brown sugar
250g (2-3 stalks) rhubarb, trimmed, washed and cut into 5cm pieces
For the cake
150g caster sugar
175g plain flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger
150ml sunflower oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Place a circle of baking paper in the bottom of a 23-24 cm round tin with a fixed base.  Alternatively us a springform or loose bottomed tin but line it with foil that comes well up the sides to prevent any leakage.
Preheat the oven to 180C / 160 fan / gas mk 4.  Scatter the butter and brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the tin and put in the oven for 5 minutes to melt the butter.
Remove from the oven and arrange the pieces of rhubarb over the melted butter mixture, pressing them in carefully.
Put the dry cake ingredients into a large bowl and mix together.  Beat in the oil and eggs, adding a little milk if the mixture seems very stiff.  Spoon the mixture carefully over the rhubarb and level the top.  Bake for 45-55 minutes until done (mine took 50 mins).
Cool in the tin for 5 minutes before inverting onto a plate to release the cake.  Remove the baking paper or foil carefully. 
Serve warm or cold with cream or ice cream.  Cuts into 8-10 slices.


  1. No rhubarb here yet.

    I reckon you could make your own rhucello. After all, loads of Italian families make their own homemade limoncello, and lots of people here (including me) make homemade cherry liqueur using a similar method.

    1. Susan this is forced rhubarb, grown indoors in sheds for the early season. It's pink because it's not grown outdoors apparently.
      What alcohol would you use for making rhubarb liqueur?

  2. Oh that's so good - a really good desert notion. I do love rhubarb. I'm seriously craving some Rhucello right now. I did once come across a rhubarb liqueur in the Somme district but I've yet to see one in this country. (I know that there are rhubarb vodkas around but I don't think they're quite the same thing.) I'm currently considering the cocktails you could make with Rhucello. I'm going through a cocktail phase - you'll rarely see me without a shaker and muddler these days.

    1. Phil, I have never seen a rhubarb liqueur in France, will look out for it. Rhucello is certainly nothing like the rhubarb gin that you can get here, I haven't seen a rhubarb vodka but then I don't drink vodka so wouldn't notice it!
      Rhucello would make a lovely cocktail, I'm sure.

  3. I love the sound of Rhucello as I love rhubarb. Don't see it much around here as we sadly don't have many good markets. Poor Northants!