Banana Cake is a healthier version of the classic banana bread with whole wheat flour, and a greek yogurt cream cheese icing!
We believe in being able to have dessert while still eating healthy, and if you don’t believe us, check out our Strawberry Shortcake Poke Cake or Chocolate Walnut Cake for proof.
Banana cake is a moist, rich dessert that makes you feel like you’re eating something unhealthy when really you couldn’t ask for a better after-dinner treat. We aren’t saying that you should only eat cake, but after a hearty Moroccan Lentil Stew or Lemon Greek Chicken Skewer dinner, it’s nice to have a slice of cake and not feel bad about it.
If this is your first time trying banana cake instead of banana bread, you’re in for a treat. The best banana cake is the kind that’s shared with a bunch of friends or family, and this recipe makes enough to give everyone a slice (maybe, if they’re really nice to you.)
HOW TO MAKE BANANA CAKE
- Start off by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a 9×13 baking pan. Add flour as well, and make sure that the entire pan is covered by a thin layer.
- Mash up your bananas in a mixing bowl and set them aside for later.
- Add together the oil, brown sugar, large eggs, banana, vanilla extract and water in a medium bowl until combined.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon then whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
- Pour into 9×13 baking pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched.
- Once cooled add your cream cheese and yogurt to a stand mixer and cream well.
- Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
- Spread evenly over the cake.
TOPPINGS AND VARIATIONS
So you have your cake, what now? Switch the powdered sugar and icing for some of these ideas instead.
- Nuts: put some sliced pecans or chopped walnuts on the top of the cake. You can arrange them into patterns or toss them onto freestyle to give the cake some more texture and make it look extra fancy.
- Bananas: you can add sliced bananas for a bit of texture. Just like the nuts, you can arrange the slices on top of the cake to dress it up with some extra banana flavor.
- Muffins: pour the cake batter into a muffin pan to make small, bite-sized cakes that are great for parties.
- Bundt: bear with us here, this is a fun one. Pour the batter into a bundt pan and serve it up fancy. Party guests will do a delicious double take when they realize it’s not bundt cake and you’ll have them wondering what new recipes you’ve been cooking up.
- Layer cake: bake two banana cakes and once they’re cool, pull them out of the cake pan and set them on top of each other with a layer of frosting in between. For a delicious, healthy frosting recipe, use the directions from our Oreo Poke Cake. Frost the rest of the cake, decorate it and never go back to conventional birthday treats again.
- Top with fun mix-ins like peanut butter, peanut butter chips, chocolate chips or even banana chips. My kids like adding dehydrated bananas to the top.
How Ripe Should the Bananas Be?
Very ripe. Really, you want overripe bananas about to go bad. This recipe is an awesome way to get rid of the bunch of bananas you swore you were going to eat for breakfast on the way to work but totally forgot about until about five minutes ago. Overripe bananas give the cake it’s rich flavor, and the ones on the bunch that are still yellow and firm don’t taste as strongly when they’re baked.
How to Ripen A Banana Quickly:
If you don’t have any ripe bananas but want to make banana bread or banana cake today, heat your oven to 350 degrees and place bananas (unpeeled) onto a lined baking sheet (I used parchment paper).
Bake the unpeeled bananas for 15-20 minutes until the outside of the bananas are blackened. The insides will be softened and perfectly ripe for this banana cake recipe or for cupcakes.
BANANA BREAD VS BANANA CAKE
That is a really, really good question, and the short answer is the shape. If it’s baked into a loaf, it’s bread. If it’s baked into a round cake pan, it’s a cake. There are minor differences from recipe to recipe, but overall they are more similar than different. Even the baking times are similar.
David Leibovitz, an internationally famous pastry chef and author, wrote a long intro for his own banana bread recipe, and in it he brings up some really good points about the bread vs cake question. Even Mr. Leibovitz can’t say for sure what makes this tasty banana flavored dessert a cake or bread, which makes us feel a little better about our confusion.
AROUND THE WORLD
Banana cake isn’t just a classic American dessert, it comes in a lot of different shapes and sizes and is a beloved treat all around the world (maybe not with the same cream cheese frosting).
- Cuca de Banana: a mixture of traditional Brazilian cuisine and German streusel cake, cuca de banana is very similar to our recipe but is covered with cut baked bananas.
- Kue Nagasari: Indonesian markets sell enough of these small, savory treats that there’s a special term for the snacks. They are broadly called kue jajan pasar, or “market munchies.”
- Gao: at traditional Chinese meals, gao is served between meals to clear the palette. Gao is a small cake that is eaten as a refreshing snack rather than as dessert.
- Bánh chuối: this is a Vietnamese dessert that is similar to cake and bread pudding. There are a few different varieties of bánh chuối, and all of them are delicious.
How To Store Banana Cake:
- Serve: if you keep it covered, you can leave banana cake at room temperature for up to two days as long as you don’t frost it. So don’t worry if you accidentally left the cake out last night, it will still be fine. If you frost the cake with the icing it must be refrigerated since it contains both cream cheese and yogurt.
- Store: your cake will be fine in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Freeze: in an airtight container, you can freeze cake for 4 months. When thawing the yogurt in the frosting may cause it to break, so if you know you will be freezing part of this cake I recommend leaving it unfrosted.
Our easy recipe for banana cake is sweet and delicious, and will hit the spot after a good meal! Let me know what you think of the cake in the comments if you try it!
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup brown sugar , packed
- 3 large eggs
- 3 large bananas , very ripe, mashed
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 8 ounces lowfat cream cheese , softened
- 1/4 cup nonfat greek yogurt
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Start off by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a 9x13 baking pan. Add flour as well, and make sure that the entire pan is covered by a thin layer.
- Whisk together the oil, brown sugar, eggs, banana, vanilla extract and water until combined.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon then whisk it gently into the wet ingredients.
- Pour into 9x13 baking pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched.
- Once cooled add your cream cheese and yogurt to a stand mixer and cream well, then add in the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
- Spread evenly over the cake.
OMG! This cake looks great, but I especially cannot wait to try the icing made with yogurt. I can think of so many things it would be good on.
We love banana cake for an afternoon treat, and this frosting looks amazing.
Thanks Dannii! I appreciate the 5 stars.
This looks super yummy!! Not a fan of banana to be honest but your pictures made me CRAVE banana cake – good job!
I hope this recipe can convert you, haha! Give it a try, you never know. 😉
I love banana flavored desserts and I absolutely love how easy this recipe is. I will definitely give it a try. Looks sooo yummy!
Thanks, Natalie. I hope you enjoy it.
I love banana cake. I always have ripe bananas to use. This looks like a great place for them. I would eat this for breakfast with my morning coffee.
Sounds like a great way to start the day!
Hi, I was wondering how sweet this cake will be on baking? The ratio of flour to sugar is quite high.
Most of the sweetness comes from the bananas. I use very ripe bananas for the cake to make up for only 1/2 cup of brown sugar being in the cake.
It’s in the oven now ☺️
Hope it turned out great!
What temp on oven to bake this!
Whoops, looks like I missed the temp. it’s going to be 350 degrees F.
Delicious. Hubby ate several pieces.
My cake turned out very dry and without much flavor. Is the 3 cups of whole wheat 3 cups unsifted or sifted? It seemed very dense. I’m sad it turned out this way.
Flour is measured spooned and leveled, did you add the flour that way or by scooping with the cup?
What vegetable oil do you suggest? Considering this is Cooking Made Healthy, and not all oils are created equal, it would be helpful for you to list recommended oils, as well as ones to avoid.
I did add 1 cup granulated sugar to sweeten the batter up a bit more for my hubby. He’s picky, and doesn’t like most healthy recipes. I kept the nonfat yogurt frosting, and he couldn’t tell the difference saying it was delicious!
I followed the recipe and it came out VERY dense. It could have been in a 9×9 given how it filled the pan. Next time I will add a bit more liquid. I do like the fact that it has a lower amount of oil and sugar and that it was written for whole wheat flour.
Most excellent! Always looking for a high fiber, low sugar dessert.
“This one cuts the cake!” Great flavor, no guilt! Appreciate your expertise and your heart to share this recipe. Most grateful!