Bakery-Style Old-Fashioned Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Amycakes Bakes | amycakesbakes.com
5 from 11 votes
This bakery recipe for Old-Fashioned Banana Cake is extra-moist and made with only the ripest bananas. The soft and moist banana cake is a homey and comforting dessert, and it tastes just like Grandma’s irresistible banana bread in layer-cake form. It’s perfectly paired with a thick and tangy cream cheese buttercream frosting.1x batch yields one 6" three-layer cake and a 2x batch yields one8" three-layer cake cut out with cake rings using the Cut and Stack Method.
Prep Time 30mins
Cook Time 26mins
200 grams (1 ½cups)All-Purpose FlourI use Gold Medal
1 ½teaspoonsBaking Powder
1 Tablespoons + 1 ½ teaspoons Instant Clearjel or 3TablespoonsInstant Vanilla Pudding MixPlease make sure whichever you use is labeled as INSTANT. See Note #1
200 grams (1cup(s))Sugar
2.5 large to 3 smalloverly ripe bananas (the peel should be mostly dark brown/ black)I use bananas that I have frozen once they reach the perfect ripeness, see Note #2
¼cupWater &/or banana juice (if using frozen bananas)
Thaw the frozen overly ripe bananas in a bowl of hot water (If using fresh overly ripe bananas, see Note # 2). The bananas will be very soft to the touch once thawed. Remove the banana stems and delicately squeeze out the thawed bananas into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl, reserving the banana juice.
Mash the strained bananas until they are a fine puree without any chunks. I find a wire pastry blender works best for this when mashing them in a bowl, but you could also use a fork and mash them on a plate. Measure out 130 g (around ½ cup + 1.5 Tbsp) banana puree to use in the cake.
Make Banana Cake
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a ¼ sheet pan with parchment paper, then spray the bottom (on top of the parchment) and sides of the pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Add enough water to the reserved banana juice to make ¼ cup. Combine water/banana juice, reserved 130 g banana puree, and the remaining Wet Ingredients (eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract) in a large bowl and whisk until smooth and well-blended.
Using a sifter or fine-mesh strainer, sift the Dry Ingredients into a separate large bowl. Whisk until well blended.
Heat the Salted Butter in the microwave in a microwave-safe dish until just melted.
Pour the Wet Ingredients into the Dry Ingredients and whisk until incorporated. Pour the Melted Salted Butter over batter and whisk in until incorporated and the batter looks uniform and shiny.
Pour the banana cake batter into the prepared sheet pan and smooth out the batter until even (an offset icing spatula works well for this). The batter will be about ¼ inch from the top of a 1" tall sheet pan. (You can also bake in round pans or sheet-cake pans--see Note #3).
Bake in the middle or top rack (avoid bottom rack) of a preheated 325-degree oven for 16 minutes. Without opening the oven, turn the temperature down to 300 degrees and bake for another 6-10 minutes. Check the cake at this point. See if it is done by lightly touching the top of the cake--try to avoid moving the cake pan or baking rack, which could cause an underdone cake to sink. If jiggly at all to your touch, bake for another 1-5 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick or small paring knife comes out clean when quickly stuck in the cake. A few moist crumbs on your knife are fine, but they shouldn't look wet.
The delicate cake will be easiest to layer from cold or frozen--allow the cake to cool, then wrap and freeze the cake in the pan for at least 2 hours or up to 2 weeks ahead of time (brush the cake with simple syrup if freezing for more than a couple of days--see Note # 4).
Layer, Decorate, and Serve
The easiest way to layer the cake is to layer the cake from frozen the day before you plan to serve it. If serving the cake the same day you are layering it, use refrigerated cake layers instead of frozen. Cut the cake layers with cake rings as described in How to Bake and Layer Cakes Like a Pro. Fill each cake layer with prepared Classic Cream Cheese Frosting. An offset icing spatula (I use the small and medium-size on all my cakes) helps with this. I recommend frosting a thin crumb coat of buttercream on the outside of the cake which will catch all the crumby edges, then allow it to set up in the freezer for about 10 minutes until the buttercream is firm. The remaining cake scraps can be used for delicious banana cake truffles if desired.
Spread a final layer of buttercream over your set-up crumbed cake, and decorate as desired. I used a small offset icing spatula to make a homestyle texture, then topped the cake with prepared banana cake truffles, banana chips, and pecan pieces.
You can let the cake set up in the fridge, but remove it from the fridge 2-3 hours before serving so it can come back to room temperature (avoid warm temperatures). This cake has the best texture at room temperature. Enjoy!
Notes for 2x batches (some of these won’t apply if you are using the grams measurements): 3 tsp= 1 Tbsp 4 tablespoon = ¼ cup
Read my article Instant Clearjel: a Magical Little-Known Bakery Ingredient to see why I think this ingredient is worth having in your pantry. (Make sure what you purchase is labeled as "Instant." Cooktyle Clearjel is a different product that does not work the same in cakes). Instant Clearjel must always be whisked thoroughly with other dry ingredients before being added to wet ingredients to avoid clumping. If you need to substitute, vanilla instant pudding mix works great in the cake batter as described within the recipe, and simply leave it out in the frosting--you may add more powdered sugar if you need a thicker frosting.
I prefer to stock up on overly ripe bananas by freezing them once they turn a dark brown/black. Simply freeze the bananas in their peel in freezer bags, then thaw under hot water as described in step 1. If using overly ripe fresh bananas instead of frozen, it is unlikely that you will need to strain them or have any "banana juice." I recommend going by the listed number of bananas instead of the measured quantity, as the weight will differ with fresh bananas. With fresh bananas, you can use just water instead of banana juice/water.
When baking cakes in a sheet pan, the cake bakes more evenly (flatter on top and with no dark edges), and you get to choose your cake size after baking! With a 1x batch in a ¼ Sheet Pan you can make a three-layer 6″ cake (two full rounds, one pieced round from two half-circles) or several little cakelets. With a 2x batch in a ½ Sheet Pan you can make a three-layer 8″ cake (two full rounds, one pieced round from two half-circles), an extra tall six-layer 6″ cake (5 full rounds, one pieced round from two half-circles), TWO 3-layer 6″ cakes (eat one now and freeze one for later. 🙂 Or have a baking party with a friend and you each get a cake!) or several little Cakelets using a 4″ cake ring or 3″ or 2″ round cookie cutters. You can also choose to bake in sheet-cake pans or round pans. View the pan chart in the article Half-Batches and Cake Pans: Everything You Need to Know.
Simple Syrup is optional, but I use it to seal in the moisture for cakes that will be refrigerated or frozen. While the cake cools, make a simple syrup by combining 1 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until the sugar is dissolved after whisking, about 20-30 seconds. You can also make a larger batch of this (1 part sugar to 1 part water) and keep it in the fridge if you're doing a lot of cake baking. Always cut the cake with cake rings before brushing the cake brush simple syrup, to avoid the cake being too sticky when cut.
BAKER'S SHORTCUT: Make a sheet cake or little Cakelets instead! Once the cake is fully cooled, spread the buttercream on top for an easy sheet-pan cake. For Cakelets, cut the cake into 4″ or smaller rounds using cake rings or cookie cutters. Stack two cakelets together with a layer of buttercream in between and on top (I use a piping bag and 1M star tip for this). The cake will be soft and delicate when at room temperature, so if you have the time I recommend that after it cools, stick the cake in the freezer 10 minutes before cutting your Cakelets. Serve at room temperature.
At Amycakes Bakery we often paired this cake with our House Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. You can use that buttercream recipe instead if you'd prefer a lighter cream cheese flavor.
RECIPE UPDATES: 9-16-21: The original recipe made an 8″ cake in a ½ sheet pan. All my recipes now start with small batches, so it now makes a 6″ cake in a ¼ sheet pan. Press the “2x” if you’d like to double the recipe for an 8″ cake in a ½ sheet pan.