There's no question that this is one of the most decadent banana cakes we've laid eyes on. And hey! Maybe it is about time the humble banana cake get its four-layer debut. To help further the cause, this cake is also layered and drizzled with a thick salted caramel. Half the fun of this cake is getting to slather that caramel with wild abandon. The other half, of course, is getting to eat it. With its four layers, caramel, and barely there skim of cream cheese frosting, this cake has a place at your next spring party — be it a birthday, DIY wedding, or graduation celebration.
Make This Cake in Steps
What makes this cake manageable is breaking it up into steps. Even when completely assembled, you can store this cake for up to five days, so you've got plenty of options. Our ultimate advice, however, is to avoid making this all in one day. I see a weekend baking project in your future!
- Make the layers ahead: Do not level or split the cakes and wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for one day, or in the freezer for up to one week. Defrost before using.
- Make the salted caramel ahead: It lasts up to two weeks in the fridge.
- Make the frosting ahead: No more than two days.
Salted Caramel and Cream Cheese Banana Layer Cake
Makes 1 (8- or 9-inch) layer cake, serves 12 to 18
For the cake:
3 very ripe bananas (about 1 cup mashed)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for coating the pans
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the cream cheese frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the caramel sauce and decorations:
1 recipe salted caramel sauce
Make the cake: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Coat 2 (8- or 9-inch) round cake pans with butter, then line the bottom of each with a parchment paper round; set aside.
Mash the bananas in a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk the flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside.
Place the sugar, butter, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat the eggs in one at a time, waiting until each is incorporated before adding the next. Beat for 45 seconds more.
Beat in the banana, sour cream, and vanilla until just combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour and beat on low speed until just combined.
Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake until the top bounces back when you gently press it, or a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake, 45 to 55 minutes.
Place the pans on a wire rack and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges of the cake to loosen, flip the cakes out, remove the parchment paper, then place right-side up back on the rack to cool completely before filling and frosting.
Make the cream cheese frosting: Place the cream cheese in the bowl onto the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer.) Beat on medium speed until completely smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in the butter until completely smooth.
Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and salt.
Assemble and decorate the cake: If the cakes are not level, use a serrated knife to trim the tops. Cut each cake in half horizontally so that you now have 4 layers.
Place 1 of the cakes on a cake or serving plate. Spread about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of frosting on the top of the cake. Dollop a few tablespoons of caramel sauce and spread evenly, but do not spread all the way to the edges. Top with a second cake layer and repeat with spreading with frosting and caramel. Top with a third cake layer and repeat with spreading with frosting and caramel. Top with the fourth and final cake layer.
Frost the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting. Refrigerate for 20 to 25 minutes to let the frosting set.
Drizzle the remaining caramel sauce on top and over the sides of the cake. Decorate with nuts and fresh flowers.
- Make ahead: The cake layers can be baked ahead. Do not level or split the cakes. Wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for 1 day, or in the freezer for up to 1 week. Defrost before using.
- Storage: The assembled cake can be covered in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Credits: Emily Petrick is a West Coast-based baker and food stylist. She is a Cordon Bleu graduate and worked at several prestigious Los Angeles bakeries before starting her own business. She is happiest when she is experimenting and making a mess in her kitchen. You can see more of her work on her website.