Rhubarb Skillet Cake with Jaggery Crumb

This post is sponsored by Pure Indian Foods.  Thank you for supporting companies I believe in, as it helps me to continue developing recipes, and crafting unique content for you to enjoy.  I hope you love this Rhubarb Skillet Cake with Jaggery Crumb, it was certainly fun to prepare.

Red-streaked stalks of rhubarb appear in tight bundles in our CSA each spring, and as soon as spring fades into summer at the local farm, the rhubarb from our own garden is ready for the harvest.  My family lives high in the mountains, where the force of summer’s heat never quite reaches and we can grow cool weather crops from July through September until the snows begin again.

Rhubarb is a favorite of mine, its tartness marrying well with sweet things – strawberries, of course, but also mineral-rich brown sugars whose faint acidity provides a complement for the vegetable’s natural, rounded sour notes.

Pure Indian Foods Organic Jaggery

Jaggery: A Traditional Old-world Sweetener

I remember jaggery from my childhood living in Asia.  I lived on a small island in the middle of the Pacific known for its sugarcane production, and while the island shipped much of the sugarcane away, a handful of producers kept a bit – out of habit or out of desire to keep a semblance of the old ways in practice.  They’d mash and grind the sugarcane to release its sweet, mineral-rich juice.  I’d watch, mesmerized, as the old farmers would pour the fresh juice into huge cauldrons set over wood fires, the cauldrons would steam and bubble as the water cooked away, leaving a sticky, concentrated sugar in its stead.  They’d pour out the past, stir it, and let it harden into cakes of rich, unrefined golden-brown sugar.  If I were lucky, and I often was, a farmer might cut away hunk of the sugar for me, and I’d suck on it, allowing its sweetness to melt on my tongue until it disappeared in the warmth of my mouth.

Since Pure Indian Foods began recently offering traditionally prepared, organic jaggery, I’ve purchased it online in hefty blocks that I keep, treasured, in my kitchen cupboard until a special occasion or recipe calls for the sweetener.  Jaggery’s truly unrefined nature (no centrifuging, no separation of molasses and sugar, no excess refining or processing) ensures it retains a high mineral content, but more than that, jaggery keeps the multidimensional flavor of sugarcane with all its faint tartness, and subtle strawberry notes.  Unlike white sugar, which offers only single dimensional sweetness, jaggery brings not only sweetness to the table, but the flavor of the plant as well.

How to Use Jaggery

Use jaggery as you would any cane sugar: as a 1:1 replacement for white or for brown sugar.  At first, you’ll notice not only jaggery’s aroma and sweetness, but it’s moistness as well – and, with time, that moistness dissipates, and you can break a bit off or grate it.  Small amounts are excellent for sweetening morning teas, while it can also be used to flavor and sweeten homemade sodas and tonics like water kefir.

Why to Choose Organic Jaggery (and where to find it)

While you can find jaggery in southeast asian markets in most large cities, and you can find its Latin American cousin – panela and piloncillo –  fairly easily in ethnic grocery stores, it’s important to source and choose an unrefined cane sugar from a reputable source as many jaggeries can be of poor quality, and subject to contamination by heavy metals.  You can purchase traditionally prepared, organic jaggery online through Pure Indian Foods, further Pure Indian Foods tests every batch of jaggery they produce to ensure its quality and that it is free from heavy metals.


Yogurt Rhubarb Skillet Cake with Jaggery Crumb

Skillet cakes are my favorite cakes – simple to prepare and served in an old-fashioned cast-iron skillet which is, incidentally, the most used piece of equipment in my kitchen. I start by blending freshly ground whole-grain flour with yogurt, and letting it soak for a period of time, a process that not only increases the bioavailability of the minerals it contains, but that also softens the crumb delivering a delicious, light cake.  The next day, I saute a bit of fruit (or, in this case, rhubarb) in jaggery and butter until it softens, finish off the batter and bake.  Impossibly easy, and impassibly delicious.

I rarely bake cakes anymore, but there’s a certain charm to an old-fashioned rhubarb skillet cake that I can’t pass up.  As it bakes, it perfumes the whole of my kitchen, trying my patience as I wait for it to cool enough to scoop out onto plates.  For this is a cake whose rustic nature demands scooping, not precise slicing.  I often pair it with a glass of raw milk (see reasons why we drink raw milk) or a spoonful of homemade yogurt.

Rhubarb Skillet Cake

Rhubarb Skillet Cake with Jaggery Crumb

Prep Time: 12 hours, 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 13 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 1 cake, about 8 servings

Rhubarb Skillet Cake with Jaggery Crumb

Jaggery's mineral-infused sweetness with faint strawberry notes makes a good match for rhubarb. They combine well for this old-fashioned skillet cake. Soaking the whole-grain spelt flour overnight in yogurt softens the crumb of the cake.


    For the Cake
  • 1 cup whole grain spelt flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup Pure Indian Foods organic jaggery, tightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup high-extraction flour or unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • For the Rhubarb
  • 3/4 pound rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup Pure Indian Foods organic jaggery, tightly packed
  • 3 tablespoons clarified butter or Pure Indian Foods grass-fed organic ghee
  • For the Jaggery Crumb
  • 3/4 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 cup Pure Indian Foods organic jaggery, tightly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons melted clarified butter or Pure Indian Foods grass-fed organic ghee


  1. The night before you plan to bake, beat the spelt with yogurt until loosely combined. Cover the bowl with tight-fitting plastic wrap lest it dry out, and set it in a warm spot in your kitchen overnight for 8 to 12 hours.
  2. The next day, chop the rhubarb into 1/4-inch dice. Toss it into a bowl and sprinkle 1/2 cup jaggery over the rhubarb. Allow the rhubarb to macerate in the jaggery for about an hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  4. Melt 3 tablespoons of clarified butter or ghee over low heat in a well-seasoned 9-inch cast iron skillet. Toss the macerated rhubarb into the hot butter and saute about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and prepare the cake batter.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with 3/4 cup jaggery until smooth, then beat in the vanilla extract. Working 1/2 cup at a time, beat in the batter of yogurt-soaked spelt flour. In a separate bowl, whisk high-extraction flour with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, orange zest, baking soda and salt. Working 1/2 cup at a time, beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until they form a smooth batter.
  6. Prepare the jaggery crumb in a small to medium-sized mixing bowl. Beat the almond flour and jaggery together with cinnamon, then slowly beat in 3 tablespoons melted butter.
  7. To assemble the cake, pour the cake batter into the skillet over the rhubarb. Sprinkle the jaggery crumb over the cake batter, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake's center comes out clean - about 1 hour. Allow to cool about 20 minutes before dipping into it with a spoon and scooping it out onto waiting plates.

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What people are saying

  1. Heather says

    Oh my goodness, I was drooling over this recipe – until I saw spelt and high-extraction/all-purpose flour! Do you have any gluten-free flour recommendations that I could try instead? I’m dying to make this cake! Mmmmm

    • Sarah in CA says

      I would try using any gluten free cake or coffee cake recipe from someone like The Spunky Coconut Blog or Elana’s Pantry blog that uses Almond flour. Give is a shot and experiment some.

  2. Bonnie says

    I also would love to get a gluten-free flour alternative to this simple yet delicious and healthy cake. Drool time! Thanks, Jenny.

  3. says

    I would love a gluten free version of this. Do you think Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour mix would do the trick? Thanks.
    I love Pure Indian Foods. Use their ghee all the time.

  4. Sarah in CA says

    What is high-extraction flour? this is a term I have not come across. Thanks for the wonderful recipe and the lesson on Jaggery.

    • Hyman says

      Thanks for this link. I myself am not allergic, but while breastfeeding, found my new baby son so be allergic to wheat and sensitive to gluten :(:( so I gave it up completely and in our house I’ve learned how to keep us wheat/gluten free and I also enjoy lots of grain free recipes!

      Now that my son is almost two and I have a newborn baby I’m looking for something sweet we can all indulge in.


      I’m looking forward to trying jaggery. I’ve been afraid of most sweeteners except raw honey and coconut sugar. I keep all unrefined sugars out.

  5. Jessica Campbell says

    This is awesome and timed perfectly. I am currently in Iceland where we have an abundance of rhubarb, spelt flour and skyr. Will make this promptly in the morning. Thanks

    • Jenny says

      Iceland is one of the most enchanting places I’ve ever visited! I’m sure it will be great with skyr.

    • Sarah in CA says

      I have substituted other nut flours for almond flour. for example pecan flour or cashew flour might be worth a try.

      • Stephanie says

        But what if one is allergic to nuts? I am going to try it with spelt flour this weekend to see how it turns out.

  6. says

    Beautiful, beautiful. Your posts always place me back into a calm frame of mind; they’re reminders that all can be OK, and if you’re in doubt… time for a delicious recipe. This is already inspiring new recipes!

  7. says

    oh wow! thank you so much for this information. i keep the same standards in my kitchen and am always thrilled to learn about companies that have these high standards. thanks jenny. i’ve been loving your blog for a while now, but have been too shy (which is unbelievable since i don’t have a shy bone in my body) to comment. i suppose. thank you!

  8. Martha Guenett Simmons says

    Which food group is Jaggery from?
    Is this a sweetener a type 1 juvenile diabetic can use instead of the chemical sweeteners offered today?

    • Jenny says

      Hi Martha, jaggery production is explained in the post above under the heading “Jaggery: An Old World Sweetener.”

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