The Best Banana Cake I’ve Ever Had
Remember that time I told you about the best banana cake I’ve ever had? It was over on Instagram.
enjoyed obsessed over it at a family reunion the other weekend. Kevin’s cousin made it and I stalked her down like a dessert creep and proceeded to talk her ear off about cream cheese frosting and spotty bananas for 35 minutes straight.
What? You don’t do that at parties?
Ok but this banana cake.
It was the moistest cake I’ve ever eaten. Stick-to-the-back of your fork moist. The perfect cream cheese frosting, both sweet and tangy, sinking into the top of the cake made it even more moist. Sweet, but not overpowering. Mega banana flavor, certainly more banana flavor than any banana bread I’ve ever eaten. Very buttery and cakey from creaming the butter and sugars. Ridiculously rich, decadent.
The banana cake was dense, but not heavy. If that makes any sense? (Coming from the lady who talks about rotting bananas at social gatherings, but stick with me here.) The crumb was very soft, but they were tight crumbs. The cake didn’t fall apart when you took a forkful.
Lori told me this cake comes out perfect every time she makes it. And such perfection is reinforced, she told me, when absolutely everyone who has a slice begs her for the recipe. It is, hands down, the best banana cake I’ve ever had.
And I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.
The recipe starts with 3 mashed bananas (above). Now, make sure those bananas are nice and spotty. As you know, I’m very passionate about spotty bananas. The bananas you see above are just right. More brown spots = sweeter, more banana flavor. Your cake will thank you. I simply mash the bananas in my mixer– the same mixer I use for creaming the butter and sugars. Beat the bananas on high speed for a minute, then transfer to another bowl. I don’t even wash the mixing bowl– just throw the butter right in and start creaming!
I really love the mix of brown and white sugars in this banana cake. Brown sugar and banana pair wonderfully together and the brown sugar leaves the cake even more moist. Plus, a little brown sugar flavor is never a bad thing!
Let’s see, what else. Oh! The cinnamon. Just a little bit, nothing overpowering. 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon compliments the brown sugar and banana flavors.
Here’s the batter. There will be some pretty lumps.
Ok, let’s face it– are lumps ever attractive? Ever?
One more thing to note: buttermilk. Hey, how often do I express my love for buttermilk in desserts? You’re lucky I don’t hunt you down at parties and talk your ear off about… dairy.
But anyway, as you guessed, buttermilk is the moist-maker. The cake wouldn’t be what it is without it! I rarely have buttermilk in my refrigerator, unless I have a ton of baking to do that day, so I always sour whole milk instead. For this recipe, you’ll need 1 and 1/2 cups of buttermilk. So here’s what I do instead: measure 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar, then add enough whole milk until I reach 1 and 1/2 cups. Stir it around, let it sit for a minute, then pour into the batter. To keep the cake extra rich, I do recommend whole milk when you are souring milk– not any other milks.
So, soured whole milk OR buttermilk. Your two best bets in this banana cake.
Is this not the silkiest and smoothest cream cheese frosting you’ve ever seen? Well, it’s the silkiest and smoothest cream cheese frosting I’ve ever tasted! It’s pretty similar to my favorite cream cheese frosting, but there’s a little less cream cheese for the amount of butter. So, this makes the frosting a little more silky. And definitely more buttery!
There’s also a lot of cream cheese frosting. You will think I’m crazy (-er than you already think I am). When you begin slathering it onto the cake, you’ll probably go “Sally, this is way too much frosting!” But it’s not. You want a nice thick layer. It’s essential to the cake’s overall awesomeness.
YUP. The best banana cake I’ve ever had. Let me know if you try it!
Best Banana Cake
- 3 large ripe bananas (about 1 and 1/2 cups mashed)
- 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) buttermilk, at room temperature1
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces (224g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 cups (360g) confectioners' sugar, plus an extra 1/4 cup if needed
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9x13 inch pan.
- Make the cake: Mash the bananas. I usually just use my mixer for this! Set mashed bananas aside.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy - about 1 minute. Add both sugars and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the mashed bananas. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix. The batter will be slightly thick and a few lumps is OK.
- Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find the top of the cake is browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
- Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. After about 45 minutes, I usually place it in the refrigerator to speed things up.
- Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add 3 confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If you want the frosting a little thicker, add the extra 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar (I add it). Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. This helps sets the frosting and makes cutting easier.
- Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.
Make ahead tip: Prepare cake through step 5. Cover the cake tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature, make the frosting, frost, and serve. Frosted cake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature or serve cold.
- If you don't have buttermilk, you can add 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice or white vinegar to a large liquid measuring cup. Then add enough regular room temperature milk (whole milk is recommended) to make 1 and 1/2 cups total. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. This soured milk can be used in the recipe instead of buttermilk.
Cupcakes: I've gotten a few questions about turning this cake into cupcakes. For about 2 dozen cupcakes, fill the cupcake liners halfway and bake for about 20-22 minutes. Same oven temperature.
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PS: Happy National S’mores Day. Here’s a new video for you. Try these. Try these!
Also, there may have been too much puppy partying on Kevin’s birthday yesterday…