The Best Banana Cake

This banana cake is delectably moist, perfectly sweet and easy to make. Dark brown sugar and sour cream add depth to the batter, and we added melted butter instead of vegetable oil for a flavor boost. Fluffy cream cheese frosting and swirls of dulce de leche will make you go back for seconds. We also upped the ante by using bananas in two ways -- fresh bananas are mixed into the cake while maple-candied banana chips create a crunchy topping.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 2 hr (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 1 hr 10 min
  • Yield: 12 servings
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Ingredients

Banana Cake:

Nonstick cooking spray

6 very ripe bananas

2 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted

1 cup sour cream

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

4 cups all-purpose flour (see Cook's Note)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 tablespoons dulce de leche

Candied Banana Chips:

1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 cup banana chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan (see Cook's Note) with aluminum foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the two longer sides. Lightly spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. For the cake, mash the bananas in a large bowl with a fork or potato masher until very smooth. Whisk in the dark brown sugar, melted butter, sour cream, eggs and vanilla until smooth and combined. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
  3. Fold the dry ingredients into the banana mixture in thirds until just combined. Pour into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Leave the cake in the pan to cool slightly, about 30 minutes. Use the foil overhang to remove the cake from the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, beat the butter, cream cheese and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Reduce to low speed, then add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  5. Transfer 1/2 cup of the frosting to a small bowl and stir in the dulce de leche until smooth. Cover both frostings with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature until ready to assemble the cake.
  6. For the candied banana chips, warm the maple syrup in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until it just starts bubbling. Add the banana chips and cook, tossing and stirring frequently with a rubber spatula, until the chips have absorbed almost all the maple syrup and are browned in spots, 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately transfer the banana chips to a baking sheet, spread in an even layer and cool completely. Once cool, roughly chop.
  7. Transfer the cake to a serving platter. Spread about 3/4 cup plain cream cheese frosting all over the top of the cake.
  8. Dollop the dulce de leche frosting and remaining plain frosting on top, then use a small offset spatula to swirl both frostings together in a swooping design, making sure the frosting goes all the way to the edges of the cake. Top with the chopped candied banana chips.

Cook’s Note

We prefer a metal, straight-sided 9-by-13-inch baking pan for this cake. It keeps the edges of your cake straight and helps it bake more evenly. (Glass baking dishes retain heat longer, which could cause the edges to overbake.) When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)