This is a great recipe for banana cake, with buttermilk for a soft and tender crumb, a perfectly moist texture and a definite banana flavor. It's easy to make and very versatile. Beautiful for a brunch table. It can hold add-ins and be baked in different pans so there are lots of ways you can enjoy it. My favorite is with a light cream cheese frosting.
Does anybody really buy bananas before they decide to make bread? For me, it's always the effect, never the cause.
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 with this simple cake.
It's simple but it's the best banana cake I made so far. Good, light-textured cake. Less dense than banana bread. And drizzled with a luscious, sweet simple cream cheese glaze. Ideal for tea, a picnic, after-school snack, nibbling while working online or any other time of day.
- 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 a spotted skin and smell faintly fermented.
- Buttermilk: it gives the cake a lighter texture, moisture, and is very easy to make at home. Details at the end of this post, in the recipe card.
- Butter: it adds flavor and texture. Many banana cakes use oil for moisture, but the bananas and buttermilk have that job and they do it very well.
- Sugar: use regular granulated white (image below) or brown sugar. Both work perfectly well. Lately I started using half white and half brown sugar, and the result is fantastic! The cake is sweet enough but has that caramel undertone only brown sugar can give.
- Vanilla extract: is the perfect flavoring for this cake. Use pure extract whenever available. Or paste, which is what I'm using lately. I feel it has more flavor using a smaller amount.
- Flour: I use all purpose flour or cake flour sometimes, which I find can lighten up the batter. Both work very well.
- Baking powder: I like this old-fashioned ingredient to help with the rising. This is a dense batter due to the fruit, so a little boost in the oven is welcome.
- Salt: a pinch of it brings out the flavor of all the other ingredients.
Preparing the pan
Bundt pans need extra care because cakes tend to stick more easily due to their intricate patterns.
For this recipe, since I choose a pan that is fairly simple in its pattern (image below) I used with baking spray and then dusted it with fine breadcrumbs. You can also flour it.
For a more intricate patterned bundt pan (like this lemon poppy seed cake) I take the time to butter it with soft butter (not melted!), flour, shake off excess, and pop it in the fridge while I make the batter. It never fails.Vintage Kitchen Tip
This is a straight forward butter cake that has bananas. 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. It's very important to beat just until everything is well incorporated after adding the dry ingredients. 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, above.
- Bananas: I recommend mashing bananas but leaving the banana mixture a bit chunky. Don't over mash them because they start to liquify.
Cream cheese frosting (or 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 it doesn't divert from the banana flavor.
But you can use the thicker version if that's your jam. There's no right or wrong when it comes to how you like your cream cheese frosting, is it?
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 as thin as you want.
- Organization: always read the recipe before starting and make sure you have all the ingredients measured and at the right temperature, the right pan size, utensils, and enough counter space to work comfortably.
- Pan: make sure the bundt cake pan is correctly prepared. More details in the Notes section of the recipe card.
- 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 (a wire rack) put the pan on top of something that allows the air to flow below the pan. I sometime place them on the stovetop (turned off!) because the burners allow that.
- Ingredients at room temperature: this is very important for achieving the best result you can.
- Cooling down: 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. For this recipe, I like using chunkier mashed bananas because they add texture to the crumb.
- Serving it: I highly recommend room temperature cakes, unless they have creams. 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, in my house, it hardly makes it to the next day.
- Chocolate chips: I find this banana cake is great as it is, but I know readers who add a few tablespoons of semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter. Or simply make the Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, which is one bowl and amazing too!
But if you only have under-ripe ones, you can roast them to achieve a similar result, something I discovered years ago and that resulted in this roasted banana bread post.
How to roast bananas:
- 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.
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 still be dense and with a good flavor though.
Freezing: this bundt cake freezes wonderfully. Wrap it well in plastic first and then in aluminum foil, or in a freezer-proof container. It keeps for a month.Vintage Kitchen Tip
This 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 large bundt pan. A recipe also makes about 6 individual bundts, like the ones in the Coffee Chocolate Bundt Cakes.
- Sheet cake - bake it in an 8x11-inch cake pan and frost it with a cream cheese icing, like the one used for the coconut lemon sheet cake.
- Loaf cake - this banana bundt cake recipe will yield 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 that you didn't know existed!
I like a cream cheese glaze now, but for years I used a chocolate bourbon glaze for this cake (image below). It's great for when you want a more powerful mix of flavors. Or a banana and chocolate dose. Find ingredients and instructions look below, in the recipe card. I will add it as a second glaze option!
I posted a Guide to Freezing Baked Goods & Dessert which might come in handy. We all prep and freeze savory food, but what about our sweet tooth? This post covers that.
Related recipes you might like:
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A fantastic banana cake, with buttermilk for a soft and tender, if dense, crumb. It's easy to make and very versatile. It can hold add-ins and be baked in different pans so there are lots of ways you can enjoy it!
For the cake:
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose 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)
- 2 cups (about 2 medium-large bananas) very ripe and mashed
For the glaze:
- 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
- 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:
- Preheat oven to 350º F/ 180º C.
- Spray (use baking spray with flour) or butter well and flour a 10-cup capacity or large Bundt pan. Put it in the refrigerator while you make the cake batter. The cold pan will help remove the cake after it's baked. See Notes for further details.
- Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
- Beat butter in a large bowl until creamy, 1 or 2 minutes.
- Add sugar gradually, beating for 2 more minutes until light.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and beating an additional 1 minute after the last one is incorporated.
- Add vanilla extract and mix.
- Add dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk in 2 parts. That means you start and end with dry ingredients.
- Add mashed bananas and mix just until no streaks of flour remain.
- Pour into pan and bake in the middle rack for 45-50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Time might differ depending on the oven and pan used.
- Cool in a wire rack for about 15-20 minutes, carefully invert onto a plate, invert it again onto the wire rack and let cool completely. If the cake at first resists, shake the pan up and down carefully or let it cool down a little more, and try again.
- It keeps for one or two days at room temperature, covered.
For the glaze:
- Beat together butter and cream cheese in a medium bowl until creamy and no lumps remain.
- Add powdered sugar 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.
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 lemon juice (my favorite) or 1 tablespoon white vinegar. You can also use 1 tablespoon yogurt. Or substitute only milk in this recipe if that's all you have
Organization: always read the recipe before starting and make sure you have all the ingredients measured and at the right temperature, the right pan size, utensils, and enough counter space to work comfortably.
Pan: make sure the bundt cake pan is correctly prepared. More details in the Notes section of the recipe card.
Preparing the bundt pan: you can use baking spray that contains flour (very important) or you can do it my way, butter and flour the pan and then refrigerating it while you make the batter. I use soft butter (NOT melted) and usually my fingers, to patiently cover the whole pan, every angle, then flour it and pop it in the fridge. I take it out at the last moment when I need to fill it and it goes like that into the oven.
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 (a wire rack) put the pan on top of something that allows the air to flow below the pan. I sometime place them on the stovetop (turned off!) because the burners allow that.
Ingredients at room temperature: this is very important for achieving the best result you can.
Cooling down: 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. For this recipe, I like using chunkier mashed bananas because they add texture to the crumb.
Serving it: I highly recommend room temperature cakes, unless they have creams. 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, in my house, it hardly makes it to the next day.
Chocolate chips: I find this banana cake is great as it is, but I know readers who add a few tablespoons of semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter.
Keywords: banana bundt cake