Banana Cake Recipe

Cake or quick bread? How to spot the differences.

Banana Cake

Banana Cake

Not to be confused with banana bread, this banana cake is moist, sweet and topped with a fluffy layer of cream cheese frosting.

Photo by: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo by Mick Telkamp

Not to be confused with banana bread, this banana cake is moist, sweet and topped with a fluffy layer of cream cheese frosting.

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What’s the difference between banana bread and banana cake? It can be argued that, perfectly prepared, banana cake might be sweeter than banana bread or that banana bread is denser. Banana cake may be softer and moister. For baked goods with nearly identical ingredients, it can be noted that the ratios and mixing methods will vary. I accept that they’re not the same thing, but without three foolproof identification methods, most of the time I’d be hard pressed to make the call. And now, the secrets are revealed.

First, if it’s shaped like a cake, it’s banana cake. Shaped like a loaf of bread? Must be banana bread. Yes, it’s the obvious answer, but I guarantee you it supersedes any other criteria when it comes to the banana bread/cake debate. If served a slice with questionable baking origin, move on to identification method two.

Second, if it’s got frosting, it’s a cake. If someone serves you a slice of banana bread with frosting, tell them they need to re-classify their dessert.

Lastly, if you have a slice of indeterminate shape and lacking frosting, lean toward banana bread unless it comes with a fork, in which case, guess cake.

This recipe for banana cake meets the less-obvious traits. It is sweet (although not overly sweet). It is moist (yet not too dense) and it is soft. Although its texture nearly demands the tell-tale cake fork, you could try baking this recipe in two loaf pans instead of the 13" x 9" cake pan recommended. I’m sure you’d get away with calling it banana bread, but you’d miss out on the sweet and fluffy frosting that brings this delicious cake into full focus.

Then again, you can usually get away with serving banana bread at breakfast. We’ll let you make the call.

Banana Cake

Serves 15

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

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

Cream together butter and sugar in a stand mixer.

With mixer running, add eggs one at a time..

Add buttermilk and vanilla.

Add flour blend and mix to combine.

Stir in bananas.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 13" x 9" cake pan.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted at the center of the cake comes out clean.

In stand mixer, whisk together cream cheese, butter, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar until light and fluffy.

Once cake has cooled, spread cream cheese frosting evenly over the top.

Sprinkle with walnuts and serve.

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