Banana Layer Cake

banana cake with penuche frosting | the vanilla bean blog

written in 2016

My family is still fighting off colds and coughs and what-have-yous, so it may be very obvious as you read along that I have not had enough sleep this week, and have spent the majority of my days listening to chapter books being read, catching up on my multiplication tables, and watching too many episodes of whatever it is sick peeps want to watch (I’ll admit it’s funny, but my head is about to explode from Candace and Dr. Doofenshmirtz).

But I did sneak in baking this banana layer cake, and I bring it to you just in time for the weekend. It’s found among the pages of Food 52’s Baking Book (affiliate link) a lovely collection of baking ‘best-ofs’ from the site.

I’ve always had a thing for bananas in cake, although I rarely make it — chocolate seems to reign on high around here. This will have to be added to the rotation, however, as it’s so dang good and won’t be overlooked any longer come birthday time.

The frosting in these photos is not the frosting in the recipe directions – I had a pile of this vanilla buttercream in my fridge, and decided to use it up. However, I have heard so many good things about the penuche frosting, I’ve included it here.I also added vanilla extract and black strap rum to the cake batter – I loved the addition.

Banana cake with penuche frosting | The Vanilla Bean Blog | Sarah Kieffer

banana cake with penuche frosting | the vanilla bean blog

A few things that helped us all this week:

The new Innocence Mission Album

This book – my daughter and I both teared up at the gorgeous drawings and bittersweet ending. Also, James Marshall kept us laughing every day.

Episodes of Family Tree (why just one season?)

Trying to find a used copy of this amazing series that doesn’t cost my soul.

Have a lovely weekend! I’d love to hear what you’re reading/listening to/watching.

More Banana Recipes:

Food 52 Baking Book

banana cake with penuche frosting

Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Adapted from Food52 Baking, Ten Speed Press 2015. Penuche is a rich creamy frosting made from brown sugar, butter, and milk, giving it a caramelly flavor.
Sarah Kieffer
5 from 10 votes
Print Pin Rate


banana cake

  • 1/2 cup (110g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon black strap rum, optional
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 2/3 cups (210g) pastry flour*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (60g) chopped nuts (optional)

penuche frosting*

  • 1/2 cup (110g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (200g) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 3/4 to 2 cups (220 to 250g) powdered sugar


for the cake

  • Heat the oven to 350° F, and adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium until creamy. Add the sugar, and then beat again until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, and mix until incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed. Stir in the bananas, vanilla, and rum, then stir in the buttermilk until well combined.
  • Add the flour mixture, along with the nuts, to the batter, and stir gently until just combined.
  • Put the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the pans, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out with only a few dry crumbs.
  • Move the pans to a wire rack and let the cakes cool in the pans for 20 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and let them finish cooling on the wire rack.

for the frosting

  • In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and stir in the brown sugar. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add the milk, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat, and let it cool until the mixture is lukewarm.
  • Gradually stir in 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar, then mix vigorously until completely smooth (add the additional 1/4 cup of powdered sugar if the frosting is too loose). Use the frosting immediately, as it will begin to thicken and stiffen as it sits.

To assemble

  • Put one layer of the cake on a serving plate and spread about one-third of the frosting evenly over the top. Set the other layer on top, bottom (flat) side up, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. The frosting will firm up, so store the cake underneath a cake dome, or wrap it in plastic wrap. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


I didn’t have pastry flour on hand, so I used 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + 2 tablespoons corn starch. This made more of a cake flour, but it still turned out delicious.
The frosting in these photos is not the frosting in the recipe directions – I had a pile of this vanilla buttercream in my fridge, and decided to use it up. However, I have heard so many good things about the penuche frosting, I’ve included it here.
I also added vanilla extract and black strap rum to the cake batter – I loved the addition.
  • Reply
    Thursday, October 19, 2023 at 7:59 pm

    Wow, I am really disappointed. I wanted to make the cake you had a picture of, and this is NOT that. The frosting is awful and overly sweet. I wish I had made the vanilla frosting you had in the picture.

  • Reply
    Thursday, May 20, 2021 at 4:59 pm

    This looks delicious! Do you think I could get away with making the layers ahead of time and freezing them? I want to make this as one of a few cakes for my friend’s 40th, but I have two small kids and only get about a half hour of free time at a time. 😀

  • Reply
    Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    5 stars
    I make this cake allll the time! Its perfect for everything. I’ve never tried the penuche frosting – we use the frosting recipe from your book, the one from the Raspberry Cream Cake. Which, speaking of, is our very favorite frosting recipe ever! I’d eat it by the spoonful if I could (actually I might. But don’t tell.) Back to the cake, we love it. Thank you so much, Sarah, this cake is indeed a keeper!

  • Reply
    Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    Would this recipe work baking it in a 1/2 sheet pan?

  • Reply
    Sunday, August 21, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    Frosting was a disaster!! Thick and gummy and hardened too quickly to spread. In future, perhaps you shouldn’t put in a recipe for a frosting you haven’t used:)

    • Reply
      Sunday, August 21, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      Hi Betty – I’m so sorry it didn’t work out for you! I did have a couple readers make the penuche frosting and it turned out well for them. I’ll have to make it and see what I think. And, you’re right, I should have tested the recipe first! Normally I do, but I had heard good things about it and thought I would just trust it. I hope the banana cake turned out, though?

  • Reply
    Liz Tosti
    Monday, March 28, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    5 stars
    We loved this cake. We added a few extras. Thinly slice banana’s in between the layers. We also scraped the cake pan an cooked the crumbs till crunchy and added them on top of the sliced banana’s. We made it with the penuche frosting and felt the recipe did not make enough to frost the entire cake so we reheated the penuche and poured it over the top and let it drip all over. Will definitely make this again.

  • Reply
    cookies From Home
    Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 6:42 am

    It looks Delicious.Wanna taste this one.

    Gluten Free cookie

  • Reply
    Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    5 stars
    Bananas are my favorite thing ever and when I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. It is delicious, sweet, but not overly sweet, moist and seriously so amazing!

    I recently got this chai spice blend off of etsy and have been including 1 tsp of it into the recipe and it really puts them over the top! I would highly recommend it!

    Thank you for this recipe… seriously so yummy!

  • Reply
    Monday, February 29, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    This looks so delicious! Am most definitely going to have to test it out!

  • Reply
    Trina and Tina
    Saturday, February 27, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Oh Yum! We’re going with the motto “eat cake for breakfast” with this lovely recipe! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Sunday, February 21, 2016 at 9:56 am

    You blog is like a beautiful balm on my noisy laptop and I’m usually inspired one way or another. Keep up the good work!

  • Reply
    Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    5 stars
    This cake, along with a cup of tea, would be my ideal breakfast.

    Happy Thursday

  • Reply
    Tuesday, February 16, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    5 stars
    This cake was fantastic! So moist, and a great way to use ripe bananas. Made it with a cream cheese buttercream instead of the frosting above.

  • Reply
    Sunday, February 14, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    5 stars
    oh good, all those bananas in my freezer finally have a purpose. i’ve been inspired to bake some pretty fabulous things lately, because i’ve been obsessed with the great british baking show. i can’t help it! also been baking out of yvette van boven’s new book.

    love this post! tx 🙂

  • Reply
    Franziska Glauser
    Sunday, February 14, 2016 at 4:35 am

    This sounds absolutely incredible. Really have to try this out!!!
    Have a wonderful Valentine’s day…

  • Reply
    Millie Daly
    Saturday, February 13, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    5 stars
    This looks delicious! It actually reminds me of a fab Hummingbird Cake recipe i tried out a while ago…I must dig it out! I love the idea of adding rum to the batter and am excited to spend my valentines day in the kitchen baking it this year xx

  • Reply
    Friday, February 12, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    I love banana cake!! And the frosting on this one sounds so incredible!

  • Reply
    Friday, February 12, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Oh yum. Banana bread is one of my favorite things to bake, and I have no idea why I haven’t ever made the leap to banana cake. This problem will need an immediate remedy.

  • Reply
    Friday, February 12, 2016 at 11:58 am

    5 stars
    Looks so yummy!

  • Reply
    Amber Harding
    Friday, February 12, 2016 at 12:31 am

    5 stars
    Lovely! I don’t like cream that much, so this version of the topping is splendid!

5 from 10 votes (1 rating without comment)

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