Basil Banana Cake Recipe

Make use of overripe bananas in this classic cake with a garden twist.
Fruit past its prime is put to delectable use in basil banana cake.

Fruit past its prime is put to delectable use in basil banana cake.

Fruit past its prime is put to delectable use in basil banana cake.

Fruit past its prime is put to delectable use in basil banana cake.

Like so many things, the origins of banana cake were economical. Although bananas have been enjoyed for thousands of years, it wasn’t until the Great Depression that the popularity of banana cake first took hold. Grocers seeking a way to sell previously wasted overripe bananas discovered something we all know: blackening bananas may not be so great on their own, but that sweet and mushy flesh can be put to spectacular use in baking.

Bananas are incredibly sweet, silky and flavorful -- it’s a wonder their use in cakes and breads didn’t catch on sooner. They can be used as a cheap and practical way to reduce the need for butter or eggs in many recipes and are not only delicious but also nutritious and fat-free. Bananas are so dense, they give incomparable weight and moisture to recipes but are usually used in balance with other ingredients to ensure cakes are still “cakey.”

This recipe for banana cake makes great use of those overripe bananas in a dessert that is rich, dense and loaded with the flavor of America’s favorite fruit with a twist straight from the garden.

Basil may not be the first ingredient one thinks of in banana cake, but the popular window-box and garden herb has a lot to offer. Fresh-picked sweet basil adds a flavor similar to anise and clove, bringing a warm and complex tone to this moist, sweet cake.

Got overripe bananas hanging around? This cake is the perfect solution. If baking doesn’t fit your schedule today, browning bananas can be frozen for future use in cakes, bread, muffins or smoothies.

Basil Banana Cake

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar together in a mixer until fluffy.

Beat eggs into butter/sugar one at a time.

Add dry mix to mixing bowl and mix until fully combined.

Mix in basil, bananas, sour cream and vanilla extract.

Divide batter between 2 greased and floured 8" cake pans.

Bake in a 300 degree oven 75 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool 15 minutes in pans, then transfer to wire racks to cool.

To make frosting, whisk together powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract together until light and fluffy.

Frost one layer of cake; place second layer on top and complete frosting.