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Banana Upside Down Cake

Banana Upside Down Cake

When you think of upside down cake, you probably think of one of two things: pineapples or apples. Pineapple upside down cake is a classic American dessert that rose to popularity in the beginning of the 20th century. Apple upside down cake, which could be another way of describing the dessert known as a tarte tatin, is common because apples are such a popular staple fruit for baking. As good as those two treats are, the thing to note about them is that a caramelized fruit topping is a good thing for a cake. And there are many fruits that caramelize well. Like bananas.

I honestly did not expect to love this cake, but it really is exceptional. The whole thing bakes up moist and tender, with a texture that is a cross between a light cake and heavy banana bread. The flavors of banana and caramel work so beautifully that one bit just leads right to another when you start eating. Interestingly, the flavor from the bananas in the topping works its way into the vanilla cake during the cooking process, so you will end up with a slightly banana flavored cake, although there is no fruit in the batter.

It was delicious while still slightly warm, but the cake still tasted great even after a few days (stored tightly wrapped, of course). In my mind, this makes it not only a good choice for a dessert to be served with a scoop of ice cream, but a good choice for a snacking, eat-it-with-your-coffee cake to keep around the kitchen for a while and munch on when you’re by yourself.

Banana Upside Down Cake
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt
2 large bananas (or 3 small)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350F.
Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan and wrap the outside bottom of the pan well with foil (this will prevent caramel from leaking later).
In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt together 2 tbsp butter, 1/8 tsp salt (a small pinch) and lemon juice. Stir in brown sugar. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
Slice peeled bananas on the diagonal, making each slice approx. 1/4-inch thick. Arrange in a single layer in the brown sugar mixture on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla and cinnamon. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Add in the flour mixture in two or three additions, alternating with additions of milk.
Pour batter into pan and spread evenly, ensuring that all banana slices are covered.
Bake for 80-90 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
Once the cake is out of the oven, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen and turn cake out onto a serving platter while still hot. Cool to warm or room temperature before serving. Store any leftovers covered in plastic wrap.

Serves 10-12.

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  • JEP
    July 23, 2007

    Bananas are probably my favorite fruit. I’ll try this as a snakin’ cake.

  • Charlotte
    July 24, 2007

    What a charming cake! What stage of ripeness would work best for the bananas in this recipe? The more firm, all yellow stage or the softer, sweeter, mostly dark spotted stage?

  • Nicole
    July 24, 2007

    They were just ripe. I wouldn’t use an overly ripe, spotty banana for this, nor would I use a gree one. The plain ripe (say, 95% yellow) bananas are ideal: sweet enough and firm enough.

  • Alanna
    July 24, 2007

    I’m partial to rhubarb myself … but banana has me drooling!

  • meeso
    July 25, 2007

    I love pineapple upside-down cake…and I love banana’s…I think I should try this!

  • Anonymous
    July 26, 2007

    I made this cake for dessert last night, and my hubby and I both LOVED it! Awesome recipe. I have to send the rest with him to work today – too dangerous to leave in the house! 🙂

  • Nikki
    August 14, 2007


    I never heard of banana upside down cake before…And I am not a gr8 fan of banana..Can I substitute pineapple for banana and follow the same recipe??? or Should I make any changes?????

  • Tracey Joy
    July 28, 2009

    I have made pineapple upside down pudding on many occasions and it always goes down very well. I am going to try your recipe with bananas as I’m sure it will be lovely. We also love banana loaf in this house.

  • shuba
    July 28, 2011

    Hi, Gonna try this recipe tomorrow. Could you please tell me what foil did u use to line the pan? Thanks.

  • Namitha
    August 1, 2011

    Me n my friends made it twice in one week and loved it both the times..thanks a lot for this wonderful recipe.

  • Ruby
    June 13, 2012

    Great recipe! … Just curious why you used a springform pan and not just a normal pan. Could you tell me why because every time I’ve tried this, the caramel leaks out and I use TONS of foil. Could I do it with a normal pan? I don’t want to ruin my cookie pans or the bottom of my oven. Thanks for the amazing recipe!!!

  • Nicole
    June 15, 2012

    Ruby – You can use a regular pan. You might want to line the bottom with parchment so that the caramel layer doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan when you go to turn the cake out. Glad you like the recipe!!

  • Alex
    September 14, 2012

    I’m trying this today 🙂 Quick question: you have salt listed in the ingredients list twice but only once in the method. When does the first lot of salt go in? Thanks.

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