An easy and delicious recipe for a Classic Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.
My husband and I tend to agree on most things, but something we cannot convince each other of is the perfect stage of ripeness for a banana. I like my bananas to be somewhat ripe – no hint of green on the peel and maybe just a speckle of brown here and there to indicate that it is good for eating. Monsieur, on the other hand, likes his bananas to camouflage with the avocados in the fruit bowl; and to clarify, I am referring to the brown variety of avocados, and not the ones with the lovely smooth green skin.
In the early days of our relationship, a banana past its prime for eating was usually quickly turned into a cake or a batch of muffins. Whenever this happened, my husband would always look at me in disbelief that I could do such a thing, for he had been waiting for days (and days) for the bananas to ripen to the point where fruit flies would emerge in the midst of winter.
Where I thought I was salvaging a lost fruit by transforming it into a lovely baked product, my husband was faced with constant disappointment on missing out on his beloved bananas at breakfast.
So I’ve had to learn to ignore the unsightly bananas in the fruit bowl, which means that impromptu banana cakes are no more. To compensate, I now tend to buy more bananas than we might eat, which means lots of bananas over-ripening at the same time, thus allowing me to freeze one or two for when I might want to use them in baking.
I simply freeze the bananas in pairs in ziplock freezer bags, and I often break them up beforehand to allow for quicker thawing later. Once thawed, the bananas can be mashed and then used in any recipe which calls for fresh bananas. Another benefit of having frozen bananas on hand is that they make for great smoothies, in which case, you can pop them in their frozen state straight into the blender.
I wasn’t planning on making a banana cake the other day, but I discovered several bags of frozen bananas which were taking up valuable real estate in our tiny freezer (similar to those found in hotel mini-bars), and the solution to this dilemma was pretty simple.
There are a few banana cakes which I make frequently, and this classic banana cake reminds me of the ones I used to make as a child from the packet mixes, except that this is made from scratch, of course! Even though my parents ran a bakery until I left home, I never really learnt how to make any specific recipe from them (which were all made in bulk, anyway); most of my early cooking skills were acquired from home economic classes at school and inspiring myself with cake packet mixes from the supermarket. I don’t think I have touched a packet mix since I learnt to bake a cake properly from scratch (this Easy Chocolate Cake is among one of the first cakes I learnt to bake from scratch), but I still think fondly of the cakes I made when I was younger, and I think packet mixes are a great and easy way for children to learn to bake independently – it worked for me!
The banana cakes of my childhood were always plain, but I think they go really well with a simple cream cheese frosting. And whilst we rarely eat frosted cakes in our home, an iced cake does have a way of conjuring up a celebratory mood, something which is always welcome in the middle of the week when you have nothing in particular to celebrate but just want to see some happy faces at the dining table 🙂
Classic Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 60 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: Serves 6-8
For the cake
- 1 1/2 cups (200 g) plain flour
- 1/2 cup (50 g) cornflour (cornstarch)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/8 stick (125 g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups (300 g) caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 3 ripe bananas
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 8 oz (250 g) natural yoghurt or Greek yoghurt
For the frosting
- 2 1/4 stick (250 g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup (250 g) cream cheese, softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 cups (600 g) icing sugar, sifted
- 1-2 teaspoons lime juice
- pecan nuts, chopped for decorating
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Line a 9 inch (23 cm) springform cake tin with baking paper and grease the sides with butter.
- Measure the flour, cornflour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.
- Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together in the bowl of a stand mixer until it is pale and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, alternating with a tablespoon of the dry ingredients.
- Gently add the rest of the dry ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, mash the bananas with the lemon juice. Add the yoghurt and mix to combine everything together. Add this to the batter and stir through to combine.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Leave the cake in the tin on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before carefully removing the cake and leaving it on the wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the frosting, beat together the butter, cream cheese and vanilla extract until it is smooth. Add the icing sugar and beat until you have a thick and smooth consistency. Add 1-2 teaspoons of the lime juice, or to taste. If the frosting is too soft, put it in the fridge for 10 minutes or so until it has firmed up a bit.
- Spread the icing over the cake and decorate with chopped pecans.
- Frozen bananas work well in this recipe. I like to freeze ripe bananas by breaking them into small pieces and placing them into a ziplock freezer bag. Once defrosted, discard any excess water.
- As bananas vary greatly in size, you may need to adjust the baking time depending on how small or large your bananas are.
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