Here it is! Some sweet mamas have been asking me how to turn my naturally-sweetened banana bread into a cake for their little ones’ birthdays. It took me several tries to get it just right, but today, I’m introducing you to the best banana cake on the internet. Bold statement? Let me back it up.
This banana cake is fluffy, moist, tender and infused with banana flavor. It’s absolutely delicious on its own (it was adapted from banana bread, after all), but I couldn’t resist topping it with my favorite cream cheese frosting. I love this cake so much that it knocked my favorite local bakery’s chocolate cake down to second place.
I made this cake as a single layer for a zero-fuss, foolproof cake. It’s truly so easy to make. I whisked together the batter by hand, and whipped up the frosting with my hand mixer once the cake had cooled.
You can make this cake in a square baker if you’re serving up to nine people, or double it for a party. It also makes a great layer cake or cupcakes. See the final recipe notes for details.
No one will guess, but this cake is actually naturally sweetened with honey or maple syrup, and made entirely with whole grain flour. So, it’s more nutritiously redeeming than your average banana cake, although I’m not sure anything qualifies as “healthy” once it’s topped with cream cheese frosting.
My thoughts here? Special occasions call for special treats, and I really love homemade cream cheese frosting. It’s definitely better than store-bought tubs of frosting, which are full of processed ingredients and preservatives. Did you know that you can make your own powdered sugar out of organic cane sugar? That’s what I did for this cake.
If you’re interested in naturally-sweetened frosting alternatives, check out the date-sweetened coconut and pecan frosting on the German chocolate cake in my cookbook (page 212). Or, spread slices of cake with almond butter and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. I’ll let you know if I come up with any better alternatives. If you’re interested, here are the nutrition facts for the cake without frosting.
To make this whole-grain cake fluffy and tender, I switched from whole wheat flour (too dense) to a mix of white whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour (both are 100% whole wheat but made with white wheat berries, so they’re lighter in flavor and texture).
Look for those flours at a well-stocked grocery store, either in the bakery or health section. Trader Joe’s sells white whole wheat flour.
You can substitute all-purpose flour for the pastry flour if you can’t find it. Actually, you could make this cake entirely with all-purpose flour, if that’s all you have on hand.
Banana Pro Tip
Overripe bananas make the best banana cake. If your bananas are underripe, you can actually speed-ripen them in the oven!
Here’s how: Preheat the oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up. Separate the bananas and bake them on a baking sheet for 15 to 30 minutes, until they’re black on the outside and very tender inside. Let them cool before handling.
I can’t wait to hear how this cake turns out for you! I hope it’s a big hit at your next celebration. Please let me know how it turns out in the comments, and share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #cookieandkate.
Favorite Banana Cake
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 55 minutes (plus 1-hour cooling time)
- Yield: One 9-inch cake
- Category: Cake
- Cuisine: American
This banana cake recipe is the best! It’s fluffy and moist, infused with banana flavor, and so easy to make. Topped with luscious cream cheese frosting, this banana cake will become your family’s favorite. Recipe yields one 9″ square or round cake; see final recipe note on how to double this recipe for a large 9×13″ cake or layer cake.
- ⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil or high quality vegetable oil*
- ½ cup honey or maple syrup
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 ½ medium or 2 large bananas)
- ¼ cup milk of choice or water
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
- ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
- Totally optional: ½ cup mix-ins like chopped walnuts or pecans, chocolate chips, raisins, chopped dried fruit, fresh banana slices…
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9” square baker.
- In a large bowl, beat the oil and honey together together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well, then whisk in the mashed bananas and milk. (If your coconut oil solidifies on contact with cold ingredients, simply let the bowl rest in a warm place for a few minutes, like on top of your stove, or warm it for 10 to 20 seconds in the microwave.)
- Add the baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, salt and cinnamon, and whisk to blend. Add both flours, switch to a big spoon and stir just until combined. Some lumps are ok! If you’re adding any additional mix-ins, gently fold them in now.
- Pour the batter into your greased baker. Bake for 30 to 34 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place the cake pan on a cooling rack and let the cake cool completely before frosting.
- To prepare the frosting: In a medium mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the softened cream cheese and butter. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer (or your own strength), beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy.
- Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and stir with a spoon until it is incorporated (or else powdered sugar will fly everywhere), then whip the frosting until it’s nice and fluffy.
- To assemble, spread frosting evenly over the top of the cake, then slice it and serve. This cake is best stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
*Oil options: I love coconut oil here. I used unrefined coconut oil and can hardly taste it in the final product. Olive oil might lend an herbal note to the cake, if you’re into that (I tested with California Olive Ranch’s “Everyday” variety and couldn’t even taste it). Vegetable oil has a neutral flavor, but the average vegetable canola oil is highly processed, so I recommend using cold-pressed sunflower oil or grapeseed oil if possible.
Make it vegan: Use maple syrup instead of honey, replace the eggs with flax eggs and choose non-dairy milk (I used almond milk) or water. Substitute vegan products in the frosting or use your favorite vegan frosting recipe.
Make it dairy free: Choose non-dairy milk (I used almond milk) or water. Substitute dairy-free products in the frosting or use your favorite dairy-free frosting recipe.
Make it egg free: Replace the eggs with flax eggs.
Make it gluten free: Bob’s Red Mill’s gluten-free blend works well here. Do not substitute coconut flour (it’s never a suitable substitute for other flours).
How to make a layer cake: This recipe as written makes one 9″ round cake, no timing adjustments needed. Double the recipe and divide the batter between two 9″ round cake pans (butter or oil and flour the pans first) for a two-tiered layer cake. Double the frosting, too.
How to make cupcakes: Divide the batter between 12 muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes are golden on top and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. See photo below.
How to make a large 9×13″ cake: Simply double the banana cake and frosting ingredients. Bake in a greased 9×13″ pan at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 36 to 40 minutes. Be sure to use a true 3-quart, 9×13″ pan (I used this one), as this makes a lot of cake (15 to 18 deep slices). See photos below!
This recipe makes great cupcakes, too.
See final recipe notes for instructions.
Here’s the recipe doubled in a 9×13″ pan!
See final recipe notes for instructions.