What is the difference between banana bread and banana cake? The most obvious answer is frosting, but I would have to give a little nudge to shape, as well. A good banana bread should have a big banana flavor and should be moist, dense without being too heavy, and tender. A good banana cake should be the same way because those are all features that you want in a banana laden cake, too! I do try to make the cake a little lighter and a little more tender than the bread (mostly because I like to toast the bread and want to make sure it holds together well!) by adding an additional egg and a little additional fat to the recipe.
This particular cake has all of the features I named above. It’s moist, with a great banana flavor, and is both dense and tender. It also uses whole grain flour! White whole wheat flour adds a little bit of that nutty whole grain taste to the cake without making it overly dense or bready – which regular whole wheat flour can sometimes do. If you don’t have white whole wheat, I’d use a combination of all purpose and regular whole wheat for this cake.
I think that this is a great everyday cake to make and snack on. It’s not too sweet and doesn’t use too much frosting – nor is it a time consuming and fussy cake to put together. Vegetable oil and whole grains give it a slight edge in the “heart-healthy” department. And as with all banana breads, it’s a great way to use up some bananas that are laying around and are just slightly past their prime. This cake keeps well for several days when stored in an airtight cake container, so make it on a Sunday and keep it around for the first part of the week. I doubt that it will last past Wednesday!
Whole Grain Banana Cake
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
2 large ripe bananas, mashed (approx 1-1 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup milk (any kind)
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the bottom and sides.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and eggs until well combined. Whisk in oil, mashed bananas, milk and vanilla extract. Add in dry ingredients and stir until no streaks of flour remain visible. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
Turn cake out of the pan and onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting (I turn it right-side up to cool, but since there is frosting to cover the top, you can also cool it upside down).
Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
4-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 tbsp honey
2-3 tbsp milk
approx 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat at high speed until smooth. The frosting doesn’t need to be thick, since it only covers the top of the cake. Aim for the consistency of softened peanut butter, adding additional milk or reducing the confectioners’ sugar as needed. (I do this frosting by taste and texture, not amounts – and you should, too!)