This is the ultimate banana cake! A swirl of homemade caramel makes it extra-special, as does a thick layer of fluffy, creamy caramel frosting. Totally irresistible.
Isn't it true that so many delicious things are born of a stare-down with a bunch of brown bananas? You have a pretty short window to use them before they're beyond saving, so thankfully the possibilities are MANY.
Take these banana pecan muffins for instance. Or this banana coconut granola. Ot this caramelized banana pecan oatmeal. This banana cake is only the latest and most glorious of my brown banana inspirations.
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First of all, the banana cake itself is beyond reproach. Moist, flavorful, and simple to make. A swirl of homemade caramel makes for a gorgeous presentation, and it's almost a shame to cover it up with frosting.
In fact, if you're looking for more of a snack cake or a lighter dessert, by all means, leave it plain!
But if you're in the market for more of a celebration cake, go all the way and ice, ice baby! I made this in a 9 x 13 inch pan for a more casual look, and because I love a sheet cake. But the batter is enough to make two 8-inch round cake layers if you want to go that route (I inevitably will at some point).
In that case, you may wish to make 1.5x the frosting if you like to load it on pretty thick, although the recipe as-is makes quite a generous amount, at least as much as a commercial can of frosting.
Speaking of the frosting!
This frosting is so incredible, it deserves it's own little section. This is probably my most favorite frosting on the planet.
There are lots of different takes on caramel frosting. Some are are thick and super sweet, almost fudge-like. Some are fluffy and pipe-able buttercreams, but have only the faintest hint of caramel flavor.
This is different. It's basically a cream cheese frosting with a HEAVY dose of homemade caramel sauce. It somehow stays perfectly creamy and spreadable, while achieving an unmistakable, toasty, intense, and totally addictive caramel flavor.
I'll be honest, when I put all that caramel in there, I crossed my fingers that I hadn't just ruined everything, but it blended in perfectly!
I know homemade caramel can be a little intimidating to make, and its slight bitter notes, compared to the super-sweet stuff you get in candy bars can be an acquired taste for some people.
I personally cannot get enough of it, on its own and in this frosting. It makes the frosting extra-rich and creamy without being cloyingly sweet at all. And it really isn't hard to make at all, no candy thermometer required!
This is the same frosting used on this ever-popular chocolate caramel cake, from the Half-Baked Harvest book, but made with regular cream instead of coconut cream (which is also incredibly delicious by the way).
How to Make this Banana Cake with Caramel Frosting
Can you tell I'm excited about this cake? Let me show you how easy it is to make.
Make the caramel sauce
- In a dry, heavy, light-colored skillet, melt the sugar on its own until it fully liquifies, whisking as it cooks. Remove from heat as soon as it's melted and smooth.
- Whisk in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Then whisk in the heavy cream. When you add the cream, the caramel may begin to seize and get clumpy, especially if the cream was cold when you added it. Don't worry about this! Keep whisking and it will all come together. If there are still lumps, they will melt in the next step.
- Return the pan to medium heat and continue cooking and whisking until it starts to thicken just a bit, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in the vanilla and sea salt. Set aside to cool completely. Feel free to put it in the fridge to speed this up.
Make the banana cake
4. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan with butter or cooking spray. If you plan to unmold the cake, line the bottom with parchment paper for easy removal, but don't worry about this if you plan to serve it from the pan.
5. Smush the bananas in a bowl. I use an immersion blender to get the lumps out since I don't like mushy banana pieces in the finished cake. You could also use a stand or hand mixer.
6. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
7. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed, until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
8. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined. Add the bananas and keep beating on medium speed until incorporated.
9. Reduce the speed to low, and starting with the flour mixture, take turns adding dry ingredients and buttermilk in 3 instalments each. Mix until just incorporated, being careful not to over-beat. The batter will be lumpy. It's all good.
10. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Drizzle about a half cup of the caramel sauce over the top. Run a knife through the top of the batter for a swirly effect (or get your sous-chef to do this).
11. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. You can then unmold it or leave it in the pan.
Make the frosting
12. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.
13. Turn the speed down to low, and add the icing sugar, one cup at a time. Beat until smooth. Add a half cup of caramel sauce (make sure it's fully cooled), and beat until smooth. Remove the bowl from the stand and stir thoroughly with a rubber spatula to make sure it's well combined.
14. Spread frosting on the cooled cake. Drizzle with additional caramel (heat for 5 seconds in the microwave if it's too thick for drizzling).
Pretty simple, right? Doesn't matter, IT IS WORTH IT!
You will have lots of caramel sauce left, but if you can't find a million uses for that, then we just can't be friends. Just kidding. I personally love to use it as a spread for toast.
You could also halve the caramel sauce recipe and still have plenty for the cake, but why would you do that?
Sound good to you? If you make this banana cake with caramel cream cheese frosting, I would be thrilled and honored if you would take a pic and tag me on Instagram @ourhappymess!
Or pin for later! ↓↓↓
More of my favorite celebration cakes!
Moist Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
And if you're looking for even more easy dessert inspiration, follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Or subscribe in the sidebar on the right to get every new recipe in your inbox 🙂
Banana Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup butter softened
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- 3 large, very ripe bananas
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar packed
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cup buttermilk at room temperature
- ½ cup caramel sauce see recipe above
Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup butter at room temperature
- ½ cup cream cheese at room temperature
- 3 cups icing sugar (powdered or confectioner's sugar)
- ½ cup caramel sauce see recipe above
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
- Place the sugar in a large, dry, light-colored skillet over medium heat. Let the sugar melt, shaking the pan and whisking frequently. It will turn golden as it melts. As soon as it is melted and smooth, remove from heat.
- Add the softened butter, whisking, one tablespoon at a time until smooth. Slowly add the cream, whisking constantly. The caramel may start to seize and get lumpy as you add the cream, but this is no problem. Keep whisking and the lumps should melt. If not, they will melt in the next step anyway.
- Return the pan to medium heat and cook the caramel, whisking frequently, until it starts to thicken slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and sea salt. Set aside to cool completely before using. You can put it in the refrigerator to speed this up.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with butter or cooking spray. If you plan to unmold the cake, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper for easy removal.
- In a medium bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until smooth. You can use and immersion blender or electric beater to make the job easier. Set bananas aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown and white sugars on medium speed, until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as need. Beat in the bananas.
- Reduce the speed to low. Starting with the dry ingredients, alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk in 3 instalments each, being careful to only beat until just incorporated. The batter will be lumpy.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Drizzle ½ cup of the caramel sauce over the batter and swirl around with a butter knife. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set pan on a wire rack to cool completely, about 90 minutes or so.
Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.
- Lower the speed to low, and beat in the icing sugar, one cup at a time until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add a ½ cup of the caramel, along with the vanilla and salt, and beat until smooth and incorporated.
- Frost the cooled cake, and drizzle with additional caramel (if the caramel is too thick to drizzle, heat a bit up in the microwave for a couple of seconds.
Sounds like an amazing recipe!
Could I use the frosting for a 2 or 3-layer cake? I would probably need to double it, right?
It makes quite a bit of frosting and you should have plenty to frost a 2-layer cake with this recipe. You may even have enough for a 3-layer cake if you don't overdo it, but I personally make 1 1/2 times the recipe when making a 3-layer cake (see this post for measurements: https://www.ourhappymess.com/chocolate-caramel-cake/). I hope you enjoy it!
Mmmm, I felt the taste of it whenI was looking through the images. Definitely a wonderful recipe to try - the more banana cakes on my table - the better! 🙂
Thanks Elaine!! It’s definitely packed with some of my very favorite flavours 🙂
I have never seen banana cake like this one! This just bumped to the top of my 'Must Try' list!
Yay!! Enjoy! 🙂
Omgosh!!!! That frosting looks perfect and sounds absolutely decadent and mouthwatering!!! Totally drooling over here!
Decadent but worth it!! ?
Wow! This looks perfectly moist and decadent! I will have to make this for Mother's Day brunch!
I love that plan!!
Oh hey there!!! This looks so stinkin' good!! Next time I have some ripe bananas on my counter (which is about every 5 days), I'm making this!! Love your step by step photos too...so helpful!
Mindy!!! Same for us with the bananas. I have a bunch on the counter as we speak. But two cakes in one week might be a bit much. Or IS it....?!!