The Best Banana Cake Recipe with cream cheese frosting involves the freezer and you won’t believe how moist it turns out every single time!
The BEST Banana Cake Recipe
We actually already have a Perfect Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe on the blog, so it was a huge debate whether we should even add this moist banana cake recipe to the blog. But in the end, we have to share when we discover something good. This particular banana cake recipe is unique, so you may be surprised in just how it all goes down.
For the 4th of July this year, we had a bundle of bananas that were in desperate need to be used. I hate seeing anything go to waste but felt like it wasn’t really time for The Best Banana Bread, but a tall, beautiful cake is always a hit at a party.
Because we had a lot of overripe bananas, a fail on my part to get them chopped up and frozen for our freezer prep (remember our post on how to freeze fruit to make better smoothies?), we were able to test this easy banana cake recipe out a bunch and only serve up the winner. It was a big hit, but my brother-in-law did request a chocolate chip version, so while we do have that Chocolate Chip Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting I’ll have to get going on another version for him.
In fact, we have a killer chocolate banana cake as well, so we are thinking of doing a classic chocolate chip banana cake, a peanut butter banana cake, and finally a zucchini banana cake.
4 Things That Make Banana Cake Moist
Everyone wonders the exact same thing about banana cake — how to make banana cake moist! It’s a lot harder than you may think. Just because there’s mashed banana in something doesn’t mean it’s going to turn out moist and perfect.
We’ve discovered four things that are a must for moist banana cake:
- Sour Cream
- The Freezer
Let’s chat about each one.
Why Use Buttermilk in Cake
A slightly acidic batter helps to keep baked goods moist and tender by breaking down the long, tougher strands of gluten. Think about how awesome buttermilk pancakes versus a regular pancake, totally true, right!
Why Use Sour Cream in Baked Goods
Sour cream is much like the buttermilk in that it will add an acidity that brings about a nice, light tang and great moisture to the baked goods. Sour cream adds a layer of fat which will also plump up the moisture and density of the cake.
Why Place the Banana Cake in the Freezer
This recipe is unique in that you put the banana cake into the freezer immediately after baking. This causes the cake to cool quickly and condense down a little, trapping the moisture inside of the cake. You don’t want your cake to fall due to the rapid temperature change so it’s essential that you check your cake and make sure that it is completely baked before removing it from the oven.
Why Use Both Oil and Butter
The more we tested our Banana Bread recipes the more we started to clue in on what really makes a good cake, or quick bread. Butter is expected to always be the winner — who doesn’t love a buttery flavor? — however, the butter flavor isn’t really that noticeable.
What was noticeable was the crumb. Cake made with butter has a finer crumb than a cake make with anything else. That being said, why do people use oil in cake? We love to use oil in cakes and quick breads as it gives more height, moisture and the flavor isn’t changed at all. Now, it does have a bigger crumb, but it’s really not a big deal.
Alright, so oil vs butter in cake, which is better, crumb or moisture? We say both, which is why this moist banana cake recipe uses butter for a better texture and oil to retain the moisture.
Moist Banana Cake Ingredients
Now that you have an overview of what makes this banana cake recipe from scratch so unique in addition to what makes it so moist, let’s dive into the ingredients list. Here’s what we used in this easy banana cake:
- Mashed bananas
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Unsalted butter
- Vegetable oil
- Sour cream
- Granulated sugar
- Brown sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Cream cheese
- Powdered sugar
Can You Use Frozen Bananas in Banana Cake?
No, you can NOT use frozen bananas to make this banana cake recipe.
How to Make Banana Cake From Scratch
This banana cake recipe couldn’t be simpler to make. Here are the basic steps to making this easy cake recipe:
- Beat the butter and sugars on high speed until fluffy.
- Mix in the remaining wet ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet, along with the mashed bananas.
- Pour everything into a greased and floured pan and bake until set.
- Once baked, place the banana cake into the freezer to cool.
- Meanwhile, make the homemade cream cheese frosting. Spread onto banana cake once it’s cool.
How to Tell When Banana Cake is Done
The best rule of thumb with this banana cake with sour cream is to bake it for 55 minutes, gently open the oven door so that the cool air doesn’t kill the cake and poke the very center with a toothpick. When it comes out clean, you’re all ready.
Leave the door wide open for another minute and turn the oven off (this helps the cake not be shocked). Immediately place the cake flat in a freezer to cool.
Why Did My Banana Cake Sink?
There are a few reasons banana cakes sink or droop in the middle. Did you use too small of a pan? Did you add in too much baking soda, making it rise and then not be able to hold itself up? Did you remove it from the oven too quickly or drop it on the counter without being gentle? Was the cake underdone?
Most often it’s the last thing if you followed the recipe to a T. Removing the cake before it was springy to the touch and a toothpick came out clean will leave you with a saggy middle cake.
Is There a Buttermilk Substitute I Can Use?
Don’t have buttermilk? I know, neither do we most of the time. However, it’s not just the tanginess of the buttermilk that’s important for this moist banana cake recipe from scratch, but also the texture and fat, so we prefer to run to the store to buy buttermilk versus finding a substitute.
However, just like you we’ve been in a pinch and needed to use a substitute so we’ve tested this banana cake recipe with the substitute just to be sure you could do it.
A substitute for buttermilk in cake is 1 cup of higher fat milk with 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice. Let this mixture sit for a few minutes before using. Yes, we’ve tried it with skim milk, a combination of skim milk and heavy cream or half and half and all worked fine, just not straight half and half or heavy cream.
Is There a Sour Cream Substitute I Can Use?
If you are short on the sour cream you don’t need to find a substitute as it is such a small amount in this recipe. Just go ahead and skip it. The buttermilk and oil will help a lot in making a moist cake and the freezer will take it the extra mile.
You’re welcome for saving you a trip to the store or a combination of ingredients!
How to Store Banana Cake
Banana cake can be stored in its pan with a lid on it on the counter.
Oh, but can banana cake be refrigerated? Sure! In fact, I kind of like to store it like that to help keep it longer and more moist, just be sure to let it sit out for a few minutes before serving so it’s not freezing cold.
Can Banana Cake be Frozen?
Banana cake is not only easy to freeze, but is better if you freeze it as it will be moister later. Freeze it to cool it, and then remove before it is totally frozen and wrap in plastic wrap, then foil and place flat in the freezer for up to 3 months. I love when you can prep something ahead of time.
Please note that it’s never a good idea to freeze banana cake with cream cheese frosting. Instead, freeze the cake alone and then defrost until almost room temperature, and then frost the cake with cream cheese frosting.
Tips for Making the Best Banana Cake
When making the best banana cake recipe you’re going to want to start out with perfectly ripe, never over ripe bananas. It’s the same for banana bread, so head over to our post on the very best banana bread and read about the bananas as well as see a picture of exactly what you should be looking for.
You also want to be careful not to overmix the cake batter once you’ve added the dry ingredients to the wet. Just fold the mixture a few times to incorporate everything, and then turn the batter into the prepared baking dish.
Lastly, you can make this easy banana cake recipe into cupcakes, if desired. To do so, fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake at 350ºF for 18-20 minutes. This recipe should make around 2 dozen banana cupcakes.
More CAKE RECIPES You Have to Try:
- Apple Cake with Caramel Frosting
- Chocolate Sheet Cake
- Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll Sheet Cake
- Carrot Cake
- Strawberries and Cream Jello Cake
- Banana Pound Cake
- Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
- Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Sheet Cake
- Gingerbread Cake
- Double Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- Lemon Jello Cake
- All our Cake Recipes here!
The Best Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cake:
- 1/3 cup butter unsalted, softened
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 4 tablespoons sour cream
- 3 eggs large
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups flour all-purporse, sifted
- 1/2 tablespoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/3 cups bananas mashed (about 2 large or 3 small bananas)
For the frosting:
- 1/3 cup butter unsalted, softened
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 dash vanilla extract
- 3-3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
To make the banana cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch cake pan. *see notes for tips
- Beat together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until combined.
- Add the oil, buttermilk and sour cream and mix again.
- Add in eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Mix on high until light and fluffy and smooth.
- Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl, sifting everything together.
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring just until combined. (Do not over-mix!!).
- Fold in bananas gently with a rubber spatula.
- Pour into prepared pan.
- Put into the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 300ºF. Bake 60 – 70 minutes (see notes below), or just until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Open the oven slowly and gently so as to not shake the cake.
- Remove from oven and place flat in the freezer for 45 minutes to make the cake extra moist.
- Remove from the freezer into the fridge and once cool completely, frost.
To make the frosting:
- Cream together butter and cream cheese until fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Add vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
- Gently frost the cake and store in the fridge or with a lid on the counter until ready to eat.
- To grease and flour a pan: Spray with nonstick spray, then dump in about 1/4 cup of flour. Tilt the pan one direction, tapping the sides as you do it, then turn and repeat until the entire bottom and sides are coated. Turn the pan upside down and tap gently on the bottom to remove excess flour.
- This cake is extremely sensitive to ovens so make sure you're baking it through all the way before removing it from the oven. It should be springy to the touch and the toothpick should come out clean. Our cake usually take 54-55 minutes, but occasionally we have a batch that takes longer. Try to resist opening the oven door as much as possible.
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