Spring into Summer with Tangy Lemon Rhubarb Spelt Cake

All summer long, you will find me spending time outdoors. And what’s my favorite way to enjoy this time?

A picnic.

Top-down image of a round, golden brown spelt cake topped with turbinado sugar, on a white cake stand with a white cloth and several stalks of red rhubarb alongside a wood and metal cake server.

Being outside at a park, enjoying the sunshine and the smell of freshly cut grass, all while eating an epic feast of summer food – it really doesn’t get better than that on a Saturday afternoon.

I used to go on tons of picnics in college, back when I had a standard three-day weekend and wasn’t working a full-time job.

Of course, back then, the picnic supplies were bags of processed food and tons of dump-and-stir lemonade. The distinct smell of suntan oil floated in the air, as we attempted to get tan under the Colorado sun.

Vertical image of a golden brown spelt cake, topped with demerara sugar, on a white stand with a white cloth and pink stalks of fresh rhubarb.

Now, when I go on a picnic, things have changed. After all these years, the food has received the biggest upgrade.

Instead of snacking on greasy chips and dip and diving into packages of Oreos, today my picnic basket is filled and my blanket is spread with a veritable feast of appetizers, sandwiches, crudites, and most importantly, dessert.

Closely cropped image of three-quarters of a golden brown, round spelt cake, on a speckled white background.

And speaking of dessert, I’ve recently discovered the perfect cake for bringing on a picnic. Let’s chat about how delicious this spelt lemon rhubarb cake is, shall we?

When I’m not bringing my lemon yogurt cake, this dessert is another fantastic picnic option. It’s simple enough to make, and can be served right out of the oven or at room temperature. It’s decorated simply and has a relatively sturdy texture, making it a wonderful dessert to transport wherever you want to go.

Two slices of spelt cake on white dessert plates with a fork, topped with vanilla ice cream with a pink sauce, with whole stalks of rhubarb and the remainder of the full baked good on a white cake stand in the background, on a white and gray marble surface.

Bringing it on a picnic is my favorite way to share this particular cake, because everyone flips out over it. It’s sweet, tangy, tart, and moist. And the edges get this browned golden crispness that provides a delightful texture, especially when paired with the crunchy sugar sprinkled on top for extra sparkle and shine.

Trust me when I say everyone will be asking you for the recipe.

Top-down shot of a metal cake slicer removing a triangular piece of golden brown rhubarb lemon spelt cake from the whole baked good, on a white plate.

I normally don’t use spelt flour in my baking, but man oh man did this recipe change my mind about that.

Spelt flour is a very surprising substitute for all-purpose or whole wheat flour, with a delicious, slightly nutty grain flavor that anyone who loves whole wheat can get behind.

I absolutely adore how the whole grain flavor and rich texture of this cake pairs with the tartness of the rhubarb pieces that are speckled throughout each bite. The batter itself is on the sweeter side, but not cloying in flavor, perfectly balanced by the tangy rhubarb.

When you cook down the rhubarb before baking the cake, you bring out the natural flavor of the fruit. It’s not cooked down with an overwhelming amount of sugar, so it makes for the ideal ingredient to brighten up the cake with every single bite.

Top-down shot of a slice of spelt cake topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream with rhubarb sauce, with whole pink stalks of the vegetable and another slice of cake in the background, with a fork on the edge of the plate.

If you have a little bit of extra time to prep for your picnic (like a day or two), you definitely should think about pairing this dessert with a creamy scoop of homemade rhubarb swirl ice cream for even more seasonal rhubarb flavor.

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A slice of spelt cake on a dessert plate with a fork, next to another plated slice, on a gray and white marble surface with pink stalks of rhubarb on a white cloth in the background.

Lemon Rhubarb Spelt Cake

  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Total Time: 1 hr, 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


The perfect ending to a spring or summer picnic, enjoy a slice of this fruity seasonal spelt cake. It’s so easy to bake and transport.




  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F, and line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine spelt flour, almond meal, sugar, salt, baking powder, lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. In a separate bowl, combine cooled melted butter and eggs. Whisk in milk and lemon juice.
  3. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, stirring briefly until combined. Do not overmix, or the cake will be heavy.
  4. Pour half of the batter into the tin. Scatter half of the chopped rhubarb over the top.
  5. Add the remaining batter, then cover evenly with the rest of the rhubarb. Sprinkle with the demerara sugar and the rest of the cinnamon.
  6. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the cake begins to pull away from the pan’s edges. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before opening latch to release cake from pan. Transfer the cake on the pan base to a wire rack to finish cooling. Sprinkle with a little more raw sugar before serving if desired.


Adapted from Waitrose.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Keywords: rhubarb, lemon, spelt, cake, dessert, spring, summer, cinnamon

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Preheat Oven and Prepare Baking Pan

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Closely cropped image of a metal springform pan lined with white parchment paper, on a wood surface.

Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. You can butter the paper if you would like, but it isn’t necessary.

Step 2 – Prep and Measure Ingredients

Rinse the rhubarb well. Using a sharp knife and a sturdy cutting board, chop it into small pieces.

Closeup shot of a glass measuring pitcher filled with chopped rhubarb, next to three whole pinkish-red stalks on a wood background.

Measure the remaining ingredients. Set all of them out on your countertop for easy access as you prepare the recipe.

Step 3 – Make Batter

Add flour, almond meal, sugar, salt, baking powder, lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon to a large bowl.

Closeup of a stainless steel mixing bowl that contains spelt flour, cinnamon, almond meal, sugar, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest, on a brown wood background.

Stir to combine.

Closeup of a wooden spoon stirring spelt flour and other dry ingredients in a large stainless steel mixing bowl with a ring handle, on a wood background.

Add melted butter and eggs to a medium bowl, whisking to combine. Whisk in the milk and lemon juice.

Closeup of a wire whisk stirring a yellow foamy mixture in a large stainless steel mixing bowl, on a striped wood background.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir until just combined.

Closeup of a wooden spoon stirring a light brown batter in a large stainless steel mixing bowl, on a wood background.

You do not want to overmix this batter, to ensure that the final product has a nice crumb with a light texture.

Step 4 – Assemble

Pour half of the batter into the tin. Scatter half of the rhubarb over the top.

Top-down shot of a metal springform pan lined with parchment paper and filled with a beige batter topped with scattered pieces of chopped rhubarb, on a wood background.

Add the remaining batter, then cover with the rest of the rhubarb.

Top-down shot of a metal springform pan, lined with parchment paper and filled with a beige cake batter and chunks of chopped fresh red and green rhubarb, on a wooden tabletop.

Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar and the rest of the cinnamon.

Step 5 – Bake

Closeup of a just-baked spelt cake in a springform pan, with a crack on its golden brown top.

Bake for 50 minutes. The cake will start to pull away from the edges and become golden brown when it is done.

Step 6 – Cool

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 15 minutes.

Remove the sides and transfer the cake on the springform pan base, and continue to cool on a wire rack until ready to serve.

A round, brown spelt cake with a brown top that's sprinkled with sugar, on a round, white plate.

Sprinkle with a little more turbinado sugar before serving, for extra sparkle if desired.

Why Use Spelt Flour?

Since spelt does contain gluten, I often am asked why I even bother using spelt flour versus all-purpose or whole wheat flour.

Also known as “dinkel wheat” or “hulled wheat,” spelt is an ancient ancestor of modern-day wheat cultivars, a different species in the same genus as wheat. In baking, it tends to be lighter than whole wheat flour, so it won’t weigh down your cakes or create overly dense breads.

As a whole grain, spelt is a fantastic source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals that are good for your health. Studies have shown that spelt also contains more rapidly digested starch (RDS) and has a higher starch digestion index (SDI) in comparison to regular wheat.

A slice of spelt cake on a dessert plate with a fork, next to another plated slice, on a gray and white marble surface with pink stalks of rhubarb on a white cloth in the background.

Some evidence even shows that spelt (and other whole grains, as opposed to refined, processed wheat) can help to regulate metabolism, improve circulation, lower blood pressure, and reduce LDL cholesterol levels. This is mostly thanks to the presence of dietary fiber that is absent from refined grains, and found in higher concentrations in spelt than in standard or durum wheat flours.

All in all, spelt flour is a wonderful ingredient to work with and it gives whatever you are baking a delicious texture and taste, from chocolate chip cookies to tarts. Try it for yourself in this cake, give our recipe a rating, and comment below telling us what you think about using spelt flour in baking.

Looking for more tasty rhubarb ideas? These should tantalize your tongue:

Don’t forget to Pin It!

A collage of photos showing different views of a completed lemon rhubarb spelt cake recipe.

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on May 20th, 2010. Last updated: June 10, 2020 at 15:22 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

The staff at Foodal are not medical professionals and this article should not be construed as medical advice. Foodal and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.

About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

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