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Banana Layer Cake with Rich Chocolate Frosting Celebrating 12 Years Blogging!
My freezer has rapidly been filling up with bananas, either because I’ve let them go too far in the fruit bowl or they’ve arrived slightly bashed in our food deliveries. In an attempt to get on top of this last autumn I made a simple, one layer banana cake topped with a feathery light, rich chocolate frosting and shared it in my Instagram stories. I was overwhelmed by people asking for the recipe, and when a quick poll determined people would rather enjoy it in layer cake rather than cupcake form it seemed like to obvious pick for the blog’s 12th birthday cake – was banana bread not the most iconic bake of the past year?
I used to do a post about how grateful I am that you all read my blog, for all the opportunities it has afforded me accurate on February 1st, and don’t get me wrong, I can’t believe everything I have got to do because of this site and I am so incredibly grateful for all of it, but this site has become such an ingrained part of my existence now – I’ve written it my entire adult life – I think all I can do is bake you all a beautiful cake, and then get on with the business of creating yet more delicious recipes to share with you all. My new kitchen is getting delivered this week, after all!
So anyway, this banana cake. There are several things I love about it.
First is the sponge. Light, rich and very much banana flavoured it does not require buttermilk, which is usually the main obstacle to my baking Mummy’s Banana Bread recipe, as you can’t get it from Ocado which is my main source of ingredients these days, and I’ve never been quite as happy with the results when I’ve made my own.
Next is the frosting. It is oh so easy and oh so rich and light, and is very adaptable depending on your skill level and kitchen temperature. If you’re used to decorating layer cakes (I’ve never been very good at it and I make one at most once a year, usually Molly Yeh’s Fluffy Pistachio Cake with Pomegranate Buttercream which is my Dad’s preferred birthday cake) you can omit the milk for a super smooth, super silky frosting which yes is a little harder to work with (I tend to only make it when I’m piping) but will have an incredibly smooth finish. Or, just include the milk for a frosting that still tastes incredible but is much easier to smooth over your sponge, like I have. Okay, so it is not as smooth, but I still think it looks rather lovely!
The third thing I love is the foolproof decoration. I mentioned that I’m not really a layer cake kind of baker right (scrap that, I’m not really a baker, I’m a cook who knows how to bake!) – I also have issues with decorations that have nothing to do with whatever is inside the cake. So, all you need to do is decorate this cake is to pile on any leftover frosting to give it a bit of height, and stick in a half-moon of dried banana chips. So delicious, and so simple.
To make the frosting and decorating even easier, feel free to make the banana cakes a day ahead, wrapping them in kitchen wrap once they are totally cool to store overnight before assembling the cake in the morning – I made these sponges the night before!
This super simple Banana Layer Cake with Rich Chocolate Frosting is the perfect celebration cake to make with past their best bananas – the decoration is also simple enough to achieve a stunning finish even if you’re a layer cake beginner like me!
For the Banana Cake
285g (10 oz) plain (all purpose) flour
225g (8 oz) golden caster (granulated) sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate (baking) soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 ripe bananas
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
165g (5 3/4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
For the Rich Chocolate Frosting
220g (7 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large handfuls dried banana chips, for decoration
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (355 fahrenheit). Grease three, 15cm loose bottomed cake tins with butter and line them each with a circle of baking parchment.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
In another bowl mash the bananas until smooth and beat in the eggs and the vanilla. Melt the butter and whisk it into the banana mixture.
Pour the banana mixture into the flour mix and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined, making sure to scrape all the flour off the bottom of the bowl.
Divide the mixture between the two tins; I like to use weighing scales to make sure I get even layers. Smooth the tops and lift then drop each tin onto the worktop a couple of times to knock out any air bubbles. Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes until golden and a cake tester of shark skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.
Allow the cakes to cool in their tins until they’re cool enough to turn out onto wire wracks. Allow them to cool completely before decorating or wrapping in kitchen wrap for storing overnight.
To make the frosting in a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl with an electric hand whisk combine the butter, icing sugar, cocoa and a splash of the cream until you have a very thick mixture. Add the rest of the cream, vanilla and the milk, if using, and beat until light, pale and smooth.
Stacking the sponges upside down, sandwich the layers with just over 1/4 of the frosting. Smooth 1/2 of the remaining frosting in a thick layer over the top and the sides and transfer the cake to the fridge for half an hour to harden up.
Beat the frosting again to loosen it up and smooth most of the remaining frosting over the cake to create a smooth finish, setting aside about 3 tbsp for decoration.
Spoon the remaining frosting in a crescent moon shape around the edge of 1/3 of the cake. Use the banana chips to decorate, sticking them into the excess frosting.
Omit the milk if you are an experienced baker used to creating a smooth surface on layer cakes for a smoother, silkier finish.
It is important for all the dairy in the frosting to be at room temperature or else the mixture is at risk of splitting.
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