I posted a photo of a completed pan of rhubarb kuchen on Facebook yesterday, and a bunch of friends asked for the recipe. I hope that my family doesn’t mind, that I’m not giving away family “secrets,” but I’ve decided to comply to the requests with the recipe for one of my favorite things my Gramma used to make, following her mother-in-law’s recipe.

I wish I had the recipe in Great-Gramma Laack’s handwriting, but am glad that back in jr. high, on one of our many long and wonderful visits to Grampa and Gramma’s, Gramma let me copy it down in my best 12-year-old scrawl. Here’s a photo of the recipe I’ve been carrying around for at least 30 years:

Here it is…

As you can see, it’s not necessarily an exact or complicated recipe, but it is scrumptious. The only alterations I make are I add 1t vanilla to the custard mixture, and often don’t have cream, so I use either just regular milk, or evaporated milk. Regular milk makes it less rich, but it doesn’t affect the way the custard sets at all.

The little note cut off on the side of the recipe is “until caramelized.” This is crucial, as the best part, in my opinion, of this humble dessert, is the sugar and rhubarb juices that caramelize into the shortbread crust during the high-heat bake, adding wonderful flavor and texture.

Also, while this can be served warm out of the oven, I actually prefer it after it has been in the fridge overnight.

Ready? Time to head to the rhubarb patch with your knife and try this for yourself! If you do, please be sure to comment and let me know how it turned out!

Oh, and one more thing. I’m sort of branching out from the yarn sports here and venturing into my mom’s territory. If you haven’t yet checked out her great recipe/technique blog, it’s here, and she’s got a wealth of information, as well as more great recipes. In fact, the link above takes you to a yummy rhubarb coffee cake recipe that uses mayonnaise, of all things. ♥

Great Gramma Laack’s Rhubarb Kuchen

an updated classic
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time38 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: German American
Keyword: heritage
Author: Elsie and Althea Laack



  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/4 c white sugar
  • 1 egg yolk (save whites for custard)
  • 1 1/4 c all purpose flour

Rhubarb Layer

  • 3-4 c diced rhubarb
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp flour

Custard Topping

  • 1 egg plus saved egg white
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 c heavy cream or half and half


  • Preheat oven to 450º


  • Cream crust ingredients until pebbly and pat into 9×13 pan
  • Cover with rhubarb mixture
  • Bake at 450º for 10-15 minutes, until crust edges are brown and caramelized

Remove from oven and drop temperature to 350º

  • Pour custard mixture over hot rhubarb
  • Place back in oven and bake at 350º for 20-25 minutes, until custard barely wiggles when shaken


All measurements are estimates. Use as much fruit as possible, and if the crust does not fill the 9×13 pan, add a little more butter, a little more flour, etc. until it does. 

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