This banana bread cake is better than ever. We retested the recipe and tweaked it, and the result is so worth it. It has buttermilk for a tender crumb, a moist texture and a definite banana flavor. It's easy to make and very versatile. Beautiful for a brunch table. It's good plain, but a showstopper with the finger-licking cream cheese glaze.
Yet again, my basket was overflowing with overripe, brown bananas.
In an attempt to change the incredibly good but kind of repetitive banana recipes I usually make (banana walnut muffins or the decadent easy banoffee cake), I started looking for alternatives and ended up with this bundt cake.
Why make this recipe
- Texture and glaze: it's less dense than banana bread per se, but not extremely cakey, as the banana flavor got lost when we tested it. It's a simple but fantastic mix of banana bundt cake and banana bread with a soft texture and drizzled with a luscious, sweet cream cheese glaze.
- Make ahead: it keeps well for several days and can be frozen for a month.
- Versatile: it's ideal for afternoon tea, brunch, a picnic, as an after-school snack, nibbling while working online, a potluck or bake sale.
- Travels well: if you want to transport it, this cake is wonderful. We love to take it on road trips.
- Bananas: always use overripe bananas when baking bread or cakes. Why? They have much more flavor, and the result is way better. They should be soft, with spotted skin.
- Buttermilk: what if you don't have buttermilk? You can buy buttermilk powder and prepare it as you need to. Or make homemade buttermilk that is super easy (how to in the recipe card towards the end of this post).
- Unsalted butter.
- Vegetable oil: I always use sunflower oil.
- Eggs: fresh, large.
- White granulated sugar.
- Brown sugar: light or dark.
- Vanilla: I use pure vanilla extract or pure vanilla paste when available, but a good vanilla essence (artificially flavored) also works and is infinitely cheaper.
- All-purpose or cake flour.
- Baking powder: make sure it's not expired.
See the recipe card towards the end of this post for quantities. You can check the Ingredients page for more details and the brands we use.
Preparing the bundt pan
If you love making bundt cakes, you probably know the pain of not being able to remove it from the pan in one piece. It has happened to me many times!
There are several ways of dealing with this:
- Shortening and flour: use soft shortening to grease the pan, every angle, every nook and cranny until it's completely covered. Using your fingers is messy but effective. You can also use a brush. Sprinkle flour and rotate the pan to cover it completely. You'll have to do it to one side and then the other. Make sure you flour the center tube. Turn the pan upside down over the kitchen sink and smack lightly it against the edge. The excess flour will fall, leaving a thin layer behind. Your pan is ready to be filled.
- Cake goop or cake pan-release paste: it's one of my favorites, together with the shortening method above, because it's very effective. Mix equal parts (volume: cups or tablespoons) of shortening, flour and vegetable oil (sunflower or canola) to make a paste. Use it to coat the pan with a brush. Store it in an airtight container (I use a jar) for a month at room temperature or up to 3 months in the refrigerator.
- Butter and flour: I used this method for years, but now use one of the above-mentioned ones. Good if you don't like shortening. Use soft butter (not melted) to patiently cover the whole pan, every nook and cranny, every sharp angle and space available. I use a brush or my fingers. I then flour the pan and refrigerate it while putting together the batter. I take it out at the last moment when I need to fill it, and it goes cold into the oven. Not everyone has success with this method.
- Baking spray: use a spray labeled as having flour or specifically made for baking (as opposed to cooking). It has to have flour; otherwise, you have a high chance of the cake sticking when removing it. At least, that's my experience.
- Recipe: whenever I find a great bundt cake recipe that can be easily removed from an intricate bundt pan, even though I didn’t follow step 1 above, I cling to it like life itself.
Steps to make banana bread cake
This is a straightforward butter cake that has banana puree. Some pointers:
- Equipment: I use a large bowl and handheld electric beater, but you can also make this recipe in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment at medium speed.
- Dry ingredients: they are sifted before using to add some air to the batter. After adding the dry ingredients, it's very important to beat *just* until everything is well incorporated. The more you beat, the more the gluten in the flour starts to work, and it will weigh the cake down. We don't want that.
- Wet ingredients: they include the eggs and the buttermilk, and, as with most cakes, they are added in parts, alternating with the dry ones.
- Bananas: I recommend mashing bananas but leaving the banana mixture a bit chunky. Don't over mash them because they start to liquefy.
If you have under-ripe bananas, roast them!
If you only have green bananas that are not yet ripe, you can roast them to achieve a similar result, something I discovered years ago that resulted in this roasted banana bread post.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC.
- Place unpeeled bananas on a baking tray and roast until the skin turns completely dark and the inside is slightly soft to the touch, about 20 minutes.
- Let cool and coarsely mash. Use in any banana recipe.
Cream cheese glaze
I took the idea of a simple powdered sugar glaze, which I use all the time for bundt cakes, and made a cream cheese glaze, which is nothing more than my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe with less powdered sugar.
The result is thinner so it runs down the sides of the cake, and doesn't divert from the banana flavor.
Use the thicker version if that's your jam. There's no right or wrong with how you like your cream cheese frosting!
My formula is simple and foolproof: 1 measure of butter, 2 measures of cream cheese and enough powdered sugar to make it as thick or thin as you want.
For years, I used a chocolate bourbon glaze for this cake. It's great for when you want a more powerful mix of flavors. Or a banana and chocolate something. Find the ingredients and instructions in the recipe card. I will add it as a second glaze option!
- Room temperature and refrigerator: this banana cake can be left at room temperature for a day. After that, use plastic wrap to cover it well, and refrigerate for several more days. Take into account that the fridge dries up, so it will lose its softness after a few days. It will be denser but with a good flavor.
- Freezing: this bundt cake freezes well. Wrap it in plastic first and then aluminum foil. It keeps for a month. If freezing the whole cake, do so without frosting. If you have leftovers, you might want to consider cutting it into slices before freezing.
- Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier.
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer(like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Pan: make sure the bundt cake pan is correctly prepared. Find more details in the Notes section of the recipe card.
- Cooling down: always use a cooling rack (wire rack) to cool down cakes, especially bundt cakes that are dense like this one. If you don't have one, put the pan on top of something that allows the air to flow below the pan. I sometimes place them on the gas stovetop (turned off!) because the burners allow that. And buy one if you want to bake often. They're an essential item.
- Glaze: let cool completely before glazing. Otherwise, it will not be thick as the heat will dissolve most of it.
- Bananas: use very ripe bananas. They should be soft, with brown spots, and mushy. You know, those you don't want to eat. I like using chunkier mashed bananas for this recipe because they add texture.
- Serving it: I highly recommend room temperature for the best experience. The flavors are somewhat numbed when they are cold.
- Chocolate chips: I find this banana cake is great as it is. Make the Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, which is one bowl, if you want that flavor combo. Use all white flour (no whole wheat) for a fluffier banana bread.
- I posted a Guide to Freezing Baked Goods & Desserts, which might be useful. We all prep and freeze savory food, but what about our sweet tooth?
Though this is a bundt cake, it is the type of recipe that can be made in different pans:
- Bundt cake - I use a 10-cup bundt cake pan, also known as a large bundt pan. A recipe also makes about 6 individual bundts, like the Coffee Chocolate Bundt Cakes.
- Sheet cake - bake it in an 8x11-inch cake pan and top it with cream cheese frosting.
- Loaf cake - one recipe yields 2 medium loaf pans.
- Layer cake - I recommend no more than two 8-inch layers. Fill with cream cheese icing, similar to the sheet cake above. Or with dulce de leche. If you follow my lead and use the latter (you can buy dulce de leche online), you'll unlock a magic flavor combination you didn't know existed!
Related recipes you might like:
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For the cake:
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose or cake flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cups buttermilk (see below for substitutions)
- 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 very ripe medium-sized bananas)
For the glaze:
- 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2-3 tablespoons cream or milk
- 1 cup powdered sugar (this is an estimate, as you should add until it's as thick or thin as you want)
For the chocolate bourbon glaze (bonus):
- ⅓ cup cream (heavy or double)
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup or golden syrup
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
For the cake:
For the glaze:
- Beat together butter and cream cheese in a medium bowl until creamy and no lumps remain.
- Add powdered sugar and milk or cream and integrate well until very smooth. The amount of sugar depends on how thin or thick you want the glaze to be.
- Drizzle over the cooled cake that has been put on a wire rack with a parchment paper underneath to catch any drips. Let it run down the sides and center of the cake.
For the chocolate bourbon glaze:
- Chop chocolate and put, together with cream, in a glass or stainless steel bowl over boiling water (bottom of bowl doesn't have to touch the water). When the chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth remove from the heat.
- Immediately add butter and corn or golden syrup and mix well.
- Add the bourbon, mix until completely incorporated, and let reach a thick consistency before drizzling on top of the cooled cake.
- Homemade Buttermilk: mix 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (my favorite) or 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. You can also use 1 tablespoon of yogurt. Or substitute only milk in this recipe if that's all you have
- Baking time: consider that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Pan: make sure the bundt cake pan is correctly prepared and the right size.
- Cooling down: always use a wire rack (a.k.a cooling rack) to cool down cakes, especially bundt cakes that are dense like this one. If you don't have one, put the pan on top of something that allows the air to flow below the pan. I sometimes place them on the stovetop (turned off!) because the burners allow that.
- Bananas: use very ripe bananas. They should be soft, with brown spots and mushy. You know, those you don't want to eat. They have the best and sweetest flavor.
- Serving it: I highly recommend room-temperature cakes unless they have whipped cream. The flavors are somewhat numbed when they are cold.
- Storing it: after a day at room temperature (at the most), cover it well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several days. Or freeze for up to a month. Though it hardly makes it to the next day in my house.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cooling time: 60 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Cakes
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: banana bundt cake