When you go to the effort of baking a cake, especially if you're not a regular baker, it’s only natural to want to start with the best recipe out there. When it comes to banana cake I think my Best-Ever Banana Cake is it!
It is a recipe I have perfected over time, and used over and over again – and one that I always get great feedback about (just check out the comments at the bottom of the recipe!) Even people who don’t normally like banana cake seem to love it.
One of the tricks for perfect banana cake is to use really ripe bananas – the sugar content increases as they ripen, making them sweeter, and of course they are softer and easier to mash so they break down more easily in the cake batter.
Bananas are one fruit you never need to throw out – even when they are deeply speckled and soft they are great for cakes and muffins, and if you can’t deal with them at the time they freeze fabulously – just throw them in the freezer in their skins. They’ll go a bit black as they freeze, but when you’re ready to use them you can just thaw them, then peel and mash them as usual. You’ll never throw another overripe banana away again!
As with most baking you will want to start with all of your ingredients laid out – and at room temperature. The reason recipes call for butter to be at room temperature is so the sugar can cut through it and aerate it so that it becomes fluffy – which you won’t achieve with either cold or melted butter.
The baking soda in the recipe makes sure your banana cake comes out nice and light, and also breaks down the banana fully (as it does for carrot, pumpkin or zucchini mixtures). But be sure to dissolve it in the hot milk first so it’s evenly distributed – there’s nothing worse than a mouthful of baking soda in your cake!
Do be gentle when you fold in the flour; after getting all of that lovely air in there when you creamed the butter and sugar, you don’t want to beat it back out.
Finally, you can make this cake as one 23cm-diameter cake, four 10cm-diameter cakes (recycled 425g tuna cans are perfect – just make sure they don't have a plastic coating inside), or 12 little cupcakes. Topped with a light lemon icing the cupcakes make the perfect afternoon teatime treat, and even better you can freeze them iced!
Best-Ever Banana Cake
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 1 hour (less for smaller cakes)
Makes: 1 large cake, 4 small cakes or 12 muffin-sized cakes
- 250g butter, at room temperature
- 1½ cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 2 cups)
- 2 tsp baking soda
- ½ cup hot milk
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 50g butter, at room temperature
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 cups icing sugar
Preheat oven to 170°C. Line a medium (23cm-diameter) cake tin with baking paper or prepare four 10cm-diameter tins (recycled 425g tuna cans are perfect – just make sure they don't have a plastic coating inside) or 12 muffin tins.
Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and bananas.
Dissolve baking soda in hot milk, add to mixture and stir to combine.
Sift in flour and baking powder and fold gently into mixture using a big spoon and a large scooping action to keep the mixture light. Do not over mix.
Spoon mixture into prepared tin(s) and smooth top(s). Bake until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean and the top is springy to the touch. One large cake will take 50-60 minutes, allow 45-55 minutes for medium cakes and about 20 minutes for muffin-sized cakes. Allow to cool in tin(s) and then turn out. Ice when cool. Store in a sealed container in a cool place for 2-3 days or freeze.
Beat together butter, lemon juice, icing sugar and ½ tbsp hot water until creamy. Spread over cake.