Recipe Review

Alternative to Carrot: Banana Nut Birthday Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

updated May 12, 2022
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

We threw a birthday party for a friend on Friday, and we asked her what kind of cake she wanted. The answer: “A banana cake with cream cheese frosting.” Come again? We asked if she didn’t mean carrot. No, she wanted banana. And not banana bread, mind you. Birthday cake. Well, we found a great recipe from a funny source…

Turns out Paula Deen, the high priestess of Southern decadence, served none other than a banana nut cake with cream cheese frosting as her wedding cake. Not a conventional choice, but it was exactly what we were looking for.

Here’s the recipe: Banana Nut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, from Food Network

There’s nothing too special or complicated about this recipe; it doesn’t even use a standing mixer. There are a lot of comments on it, though, and one that’s brought up over and over is important. The recipe calls for mixing together the dry ingredients, plus the egg and oil, before adding the bananas. This first mixture is extremely dense. It takes some work to get the mashed bananas incorporated, even though they turn the lump of dough into a more fluid batter that you can pour into the cake pans. Don’t despair. It does come together, but next time we might follow one commentator’s advice and mix all the wet ingredients together, then combine them with the flour, sugar, and spices.

This recipe makes three relatively thin layers, which are easy to stack and frost—but be careful not to over-bake them. Also, we used walnuts instead of pecans. We’re sure either would taste good.

Our cake stayed moist for a couple of days afterwards and was a delicious (and much less labor-intensive) alternative to carrot cake. The cream cheese frosting is your standard stuff, but really good.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Related: On Birthday Cake for Breakfast (We highly recommend this one in the a.m.)