If you’re like me and sometimes have brown bananas sitting on the counter or sitting in your freezer, you can make this Old-Fashioned Banana Cake. It’s a simple, vintage style cake that is moist, heavy on the banana flavor and topped with a fluffy cream cheese frosting.
My vintage recipe inspiration came from my very tattered 1965 Fannie Farmer cookbook. I’ve made a few modern adjustments to the original recipe. I swapped out some of the butter for oil, added an extra egg white, and although this is is not a banana spice cake, I added a bit of cinnamon to enhance the flavor.
Baker’s tips for Old-Fashioned Banana Cake:
Use brown-speckled bananas:
When making banana baked goods, be sure to use brown-speckled bananas. Bananas develop more natural sugar as they ripe and making them sweeter. Soft brown bananas also keep your bake moist. Never use green, unripe bananas for baked goods! If you’re craving banana cake before your bananas are ready to use, simply slow roast them in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes until they are black outside and soft inside.
Butter for flavor, oil for texture:
I’ve modified the original recipe by using half butter to provide additional flavor along with using oil to ensure a tender, moist crumb. Remember when baking, to always use a mild oil such as canola or ‘extra light’ extra virgin olive oil so that the flavor of the oil doesn’t overpower your baked good.
For a light tender crumb, dissolve the baking soda into the buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk, simply make it by placing 1 T. of white vinegar into a liquid measuring cup and add milk to the 1 cup line. Dry buttermilk is also really nice to keep on hand in your pantry to mix up as needed.
Tips for the eggs:
I’ve maintained the number of yolks to still provide richness, but have added an extra egg white to lift the batter. Although I’ve added the extra step to separate out the egg whites from the yolks, if you beat the whites and gently fold into the batter it will ensure the batter remains light.
Use the proper baking pans:
Always use aluminum baking pans since they conduct even heat. I use vintage aluminum cake pans or Fat Daddio’s baking pans. Depending on your cake style, there are several options to use with this recipe: round pans, square pans, 9×13 pan or half-sheet pan, or even cupcakes. Be sure to always prep baking pans first with cooking spray and a light dusting of flour; or line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.
For the best cream cheese frosting:
My homemade cream cheese frosting has less confectioners sugar than most recipes which brings out more of the tangy flavor. For the best all natural taste and texture, use full fat cream cheese sold in the brick. Do not use cream cheese in the tub which is actually a spread made with additives.
Keep vintage cake decorating simple:
Cream cheese frosting tends to be thin, so you may want to place a crumb coat on the cake and put in the fridge to chill for 10-15 minutes before putting on the outside layer. Use an off-set spatula to coat the sides first. Then spread frosting on the top of the cake. Form a classic spiral pattern on top by starting on the outside edge and spin your cake plate around until you get to the center. Finish the look with a simple garnish of fruit or nuts.
Old Fashioned Banana Cake
- 3 c. unbleached flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. pink salt
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 3/4 c. unsalted butter room temp
- 2 c. sugar
- 1/3 c. oil
- 3 eggs + 1 egg white beaten separately
- 2 c. mashed banana (about 4 bananas)
- 1 1/3 c. buttermilk
- 2 tsp. baking soda dissolve in buttermilk
- 2 tsp. vanilla
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 c. unsalted butter
- 4 oz. block cream cheese
- 2 1/2 c. confectioners sugar
- 2-3 T. cream
- 2 tsp. vanilla or rum (or equal combination)
- 1/8 tsp. fine salt
- Peel and mash bananas into liquid measuring cup. Set aside.
- Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Pour buttermilk into liquid measuring cup and add baking soda. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour (3) 8" round cake pans.
- In mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg whites until soft peaks. Set aside in a separate bowl.
- Cream together butter and sugar and oil until light and fluffy.
- Alternate and add half the dry ingredients and half the wet ingredients and blend until just combined. Repeat.
- Fold in the beaten egg whites by hand.
- Pour batter into greased cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes. Place toothpick in center comes out clean. Allow to cool before icing.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Place butter and cream cheese into mixer bowl and mix until light and fluffy.
- Add powdered sugar, vanilla/rum, and pinch of salt and mix about 5-7 minutes.