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Whole Grain Banana Cake

Whole Grain Banana Cake

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).

Serves 8-10

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!)

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  • Kasey
    April 22, 2009

    I never would have thought to differentiate the two, but I love the honey cream cheese frosting. I bet it would be just as delicious on banana bread as on this cake 🙂

  • Ellen
    April 22, 2009

    what about using a combination of whole wheat and cake flour? i feel like a little cake flour would lighten the cake up as much as half ww/half white, and you’d get the health benefits of more whole wheat. i’d love to hear your thoughts!

  • Baking Monster
    April 22, 2009

    I love this I just did that on my blog too.

  • Steph
    April 22, 2009

    I always wondered what the difference was between banana cake and banana bread.

  • Elyse
    April 22, 2009

    That banana cake sounds great. My favorite part? The honey cream cheese frosting. It sounds totally divine. I don’t think I could stop myself from sneaking a fingerful!

  • Kerstin
    April 22, 2009

    Oh that sounds good and I love that it’s not too bad for you. I love that thick layer of frosting!

  • Eliana
    April 22, 2009

    Seems like the best part of this cake is the frosting. Sounds so yummy.

  • Nicole
    April 22, 2009

    Ellen – You could try it, but your comment makes me think that I overstated the denseness of this cake. It’s not that dense and it’s certainly not heavy at all. It’s just a different type of texture than, say, a plain white cake is.

  • Stephanie
    April 22, 2009

    I love that opening line. The only difference is the frosting. It’s like when someone asks “what’s the difference between gelato and ice cream” and the response is “about 200 calories”

    Nice post. I’ll have to try this recipe, especially the honey cream cheese frosting

  • Dany
    April 23, 2009

    I like to read your knowledge about banana and bread. And I want to try your recipe. But in my country (Indonesia), there are plenty kinds of banana. Any suggest what kind of banana should i use?

  • Erin
    April 24, 2009

    I always have bananas in the freezer so it’s nice to see something a little different to try. Thanks for sharing!

  • Nice
    April 24, 2009

    Great nice post!

  • Kiersten
    April 25, 2009

    This sounds right up my ally. I love anything with banana and I love using whole grain flours in my baked goods. I’m definitely bookmarking this recipe.

  • Linda
    July 8, 2009

    My husband loves banana bread, now I know what to make tonight…

  • Sarah
    August 16, 2009

    I made this yesterday with my friends, and it was absolutely divine! It was moist yet had a cake texture, and had a wonderful cinnamon-banana-vanilla combination. We actually found the frosting too sweet—what we did was split up the cake in two layers and insert vanilla ice cream in between! Yummy…

  • Alicia
    February 19, 2010

    I baked this for myself on my birthday. I was the best cake I have ever made! Moist, light & delicious! I made a few changes in the recipe:
    sub whole grain pastry flour for white whole wheat flour
    used 3 eggs instead of two
    3/4 Sucanat (Evap Sugar Cane) instead of brown sugar-note I melted the sucanat in the oil before adding to the dry mix and simply eliminated both from the wet mixture
    I also added an additional tbsp of honey to the frosting and omitted the sugar all together.
    Garnish with Pecans and unsweetened organic coconut flakes
    Would have loved to post a pic…

  • Esther
    February 15, 2012

    Yummy! This is a really good cake! Thanks a million for this recipe!

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