Recipe Review

I’m Not a Cake Person, but This Banana Cake Just Changed My Mind

published Jul 17, 2022
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banana cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting
Credit: Lauren Miyashiro

I am not a cake person. In 2017 I hopped on the doughnut-wall wedding trend — not because it was adorable (although our doughnut-studded pegboard totally was!), but because I really don’t care for cake. Doughnuts (as well as cookies, pies, brownies, and just about every other kind of carby sweet) are my love language. But nine times out of 10, I will politely decline a slice of cake. The one exception: banana cake. 

Icing on the Cake, a bakery in Los Gatos, California, makes an out-of-this-world banana cake. It’s the only cake I truly enjoy, and I desperately want to replicate it at home. Most recipes I’ve tried so far fall in one of two camps: the banana flavor is weak or the texture is too similar to banana bread. But when I spotted Adrianna Guevara Adarme’s banana cake on Instagram, I felt hopeful. Not only did she promise “the lightest crumb” and “a super-intense banana flavor,” but she also claimed it was one of her best cakes ever. After reading through the recipe, I wasn’t stoked to buy cake flour or separate egg whites, but I’m a big fan of her blog, A Cozy Kitchen, so I decided to give it a try.

How to Make Mini Banana Cake

For this recipe, you don’t need super-ripe bananas. Instead, Adriana wants you to roast two medium bananas at 350°F until the peels turn very dark and the juices begin pooling in the bottom of the baking dish. This helps concentrate their flavor. 

To make the batter, sift together the dry ingredients. Next, beat egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is opaque and airy. Beat in the rest of the wet ingredients, along with the roasted mashed bananas, then add the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Bake in an 8×8-inch baking pan (this is important) until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Whether you lick the batter is between you and your kitchen, but you should know that it tastes like Magnolia Bakery’s banana pudding!

To make the chocolate cream cheese frosting, beat softened cream cheese until super smooth (to avoid lumps later on), then mix in the butter. Add powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla extract and beat until the frosting is irresistibly fluffy, which Adriana insists is a full two minutes. (She was right.) Mix in the cocoa powder and voila! You have cloud-like chocolate cream cheese frosting. 

There are instructions for decorating the cake with cute little frosting bananas, but I skipped them for ease. Instead, I went the rainbow sprinkle route (my toddler’s love language).

Credit: Lauren Miyashiro

My Honest Review of Mini Banana Cake

This is the best banana cake I’ve made so far. Roasting the bananas is a brilliantly easy step that guarantees strong banana flavor in each bite. In fact, I intend to test this trick the next time I’m craving banana bread and don’t have the patience to wait for my bananas to brown. 

The texture is good too. The crumb is more delicate and airy than banana bread, which makes the extra steps of whipping the egg whites and sifting the dry ingredients worth it. Dryness also isn’t an issue. Would I make this cake again? Yes, at least if my 2-and-a-half-year-old (and toughest food critic) has any say.

My only complaint is the frosting, which tasted to me like a room-temperature (but not melty) swirl of chocolate soft-serve. While it was extremely tasty, it was almost too fluffy. I also found myself wishing it wasn’t chocolate — a statement I never thought I’d utter. I missed the strong tang and the thicker, creamier texture of a more traditional cream cheese frosting.

Credit: Lauren Miyashiro

If You’re Going to Make This Banana Cake, a Few Tips

  1. Line the cake pan with parchment paper. Creating a parchment paper sling makes transferring the cake to a cooling rack stress-free.
  2. Make sure you use an 8×8-inch pan (or follow the recipe’s guidance for alternatives). I was defiant and baked the cake in my 9×9-inch pan, a decision that I believe led to a less-lofty cake.
  3. If you can find them, decorate with banana Runts! I wish I could take credit for the ingenious idea, but I owe it all to our Executive Food Director, Nina. I couldn’t find them this time, but I’ll be on the lookout.

Do you have a favorite banana cake recipe? Tell me about it in the comments below.