We’re all guilty of it – you buy bananas because they’re like 40 cents a pound, you eat 3 of the 5 you buy, and by the end of the week, you’ve got those two dark brown, mushy bananas sitting on your counter staring at you. I’m totally guilty of it too. However; before you toss those brown bananas in the trash, consider turning them into something delicious – like this cake!
The base of this cake is a moist, dense banana cake, reminiscent of banana bread (only better). I find that banana bread can often be super dry, but this cake is quite the opposite. Flavored with a bit of vanilla fresh, ripe banana, it has a warm flavor palette that’s offset perfectly by the frosting.
Now, this frosting is anything but ordinary vanilla. The banana cake is pretty sweet itself, and I thought it would lend itself well to a sweet and salty combination (which is my personal favorite). I love that salty flavors both mellow and highlight sweet ones, and this cake was no exception. This frosting starts out as a pretty standard vanilla buttercream (butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and a little milk); however, then you want to salt it much more than a typical frosting, which gives it a sweet yet salty profile. Paired with the banana cake, it’s a killer combo.
I took this cake up a notch by adding pretzels as well, which played up the salt factor a bit more while also adding some texture and crunch. You could substitute just about anything here – chocolate chips for some cocoa notes, peanuts to add a nutty flavor, rice krispie cereal for texture without any new flavors, etc.
If you don’t want to do a vanilla frosting, banana cake pairs super well with both chocolate and peanut butter. You could do a peanut butter filling and chocolate frosting for a delicious flavor trio!
The magic of half-cakes
One of the questions I get most often is “what do you do with an entire cake every time you make a new cake recipe?”
My secret: I don’t. I actually make a half-cake, which is perfect for two people to enjoy throughout the week. To make a half cake, simply bake one 9″ round instead of two, then cut that round in half and stack it to create a layer cake that’s exactly half of a regular round cake.
Looking for more cakes?
There’s no such thing as too much cake (not in my universe anyway), so check out some of my other cake recipes for your next party (or just because):
- Blueberry Buttermilk Cake with Maple Frosting
- Espresso Oreo Cake
- Lighter Chocolate Cake with Greek Yogurt Frosting
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Cake with Salted Vanilla Buttercream
- Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Cake
Now let’s make some cake!
Recipe is for 1 9″ round (half cake as stated above), double for a full 9″ layer cake.
- 2 small overripe bananas, mashed (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 medium egg
- 3 tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Salted Vanilla Buttercream:
- 1/4 cup butter, softened to room temp
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp milk
- 1/2 – 1 tsp salt (start with less, taste as you go)
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Mash bananas thoroughly, and mix with egg, oil, and vanilla in a bowl
- In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt
- Combine wet and dry ingredients and whisk together until fully combined
- Pour batter into a greased 9″ cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean)
- Let cake cool completely before frosting. While it cools, start on your frosting.
- Combine butter and powdered sugar and vanilla in a stand mixer and beat with a whisk attachment on medium speed until combined. Add milk 1/2 tbsp at a time to get ideal consistency. Add salt last, tasting as you go, ensuring that it’s the right level of sweet and salty for you.
- To complete a half cake, cut the round in half, frost one side, stack the other side on top creating a half moon shape, and frost the outside. Then, just slice and enjoy!
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Let come to room temp before serving.
Let me know if you make this recipe by leaving a comment and/or tagging me on Instagram at @foodbythegram!
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