Banana Cake with Spiced Vanilla Buttercream is probably the most luxurious outcome imaginable for those over ripe bananas on your

Banana Cake with Spiced Vanilla Buttercream is probably the most luxurious  outcome imaginable for those over ripe bananas on your counter…

Best banana cake recipe

Most of us who love to cook have our own quirky, sometimes random, obsessions.  One of mine is definitely banana.  If you want to psychoanalyze it (just humor me please) I think it must stem from the fact that when I was growing up I could never eat bananas, they gave me terrible stomach aches.  I avoided all bananas like the plague until one day I realized that cooking them solved the problem.  That kicked off a lifelong fixation on banana cakes and breads.  This one is wonderfully dense and moist, and thickly plastered with the best frosting ever…a creamy vanilla clove.  Go ahead — open up the jar in your spice cabinet and take a whiff — I think cloves have been given a bum rap, they get stuck in a ham once a year and that’s the end of it.  But seriously their fragrance is so clear and vivid.  Just a dash gives this frosting a unique spiced flavor.  Next time you’re whipping up a plain Jane vanilla frosting, consider adding a hint of spice, it adds a soft, warm, distinctively fall touch.

Banana Cake with vanilla and clove spiced frosting

This cake requires just two over-ripe bananas.  I skipped the nuts, which I almost always add to my banana breads and cakes, just for a change.  I didn’t miss them, although you could certainly add walnuts or pecans.  I flavored the batter with cardamom, and that, along with the frosting, gives this a little bit of a spice cake feel.

Vanilla Clove Frosted Banana Cake

The unusual thing about this recipe is that you put the cake in the freezer for 30 minutes immediately after taking it out of the oven.  That makes it extra moist.  And you’ll store in the fridge, too, which gives the cake a firm, dense quality that is really appealing.  I made the frosting with a combination of butter and mascarpone cheese.  Cream cheese is fine, too, but the mascarpone is a little more subtle.   The recipe makes lots, which is essential for this particular cake.

moist and dense banana cake with spiced vanilla frostingbanana cake

If you’re sort of obsessed with banana desserts like I am, you need to try my Banana Blondies or Banana Poppyseed Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting. Or my super easy Copycat Trader Joe’s Gone Bananas.  Oooooor, if you’re a little more adventurous, how about my Bourbon Banana Butter!

Banana Cake with Spiced Vanilla Buttercream

Banana Cake with Spiced Vanilla Buttercream


  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
    spiced frosting
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 oz (1 container) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature (you can substitute cream cheese)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves (you can add more if you like)
  • up to 4 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar


  1. Set oven to 325F
  2. Grease a 9 inch round springform pan (the cake is tall, you will need high sides.)
  3. Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer, or by hand. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla and cardamom.
  4. Mash the bananas until smooth, and add the lemon juice. Blend in to the butter and sugar mixture, and don't worry if it looks curdled.
  5. Whisk the flour with the salt and baking soda, and add to the bowl alternately with the buttermilk, blending until everything is just mixed.
  6. Turn the batter into the buttered pan, and smooth out the top. Bake for about 60-70 minutes, or until the cake is risen, not wobbly in the center, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it.
  7. Put the cake pan immediately into the freezer for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove the cake from the pan when you take it out of the freezer. When it has completely cooled, frost it.
  9. To make the frosting, blend the butter and mascarpone cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and cloves. Blend in the sugar, a cup at a time,until you get a smooth, thick frosting. You may not need all of it.
  10. I like to store the frosted cake in the fridge.


Adapted from Art and the Kitchen

Banana Cake with Spiced Vanilla Frosting

This is a great everyday family cake, but it’s also nice to have around for guests during the holidays, or for whenever you need to bring something to a party or gathering, because just about everybody loves banana cake.   You might even kick off a few new obsessions…


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42 Responses to Banana Cake with Spiced Vanilla Buttercream

  1. Trisha says:

    Could I make this in 8×8 square pans?

    • Sue says:

      This particular cake will have too much batter for one 8×8 pan, Trisha, and I think not enough for 2, sorry! Switching pan sizes is always a little tricky.

  2. Mona says:

    This cake was amazing!!!!! Thank you! My family loved it so much I made two cakes in one week! I love cardamom too. It paired so well with the banana.

  3. Maddy says:

    Best cake I’ve had in years! YUM! I used 1 cup packed dark brown sugar and 1 cup white sugar in the cake, and about 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar and 3 – 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar in the icing. It gave an awesome caramel flavor!

  4. Kristy says:

    Fabulous looking cake, have you ever tried it in a sheet cake pan? Have a friend who wants banana cake like his mom used to make, this looks amazing.

  5. Ramya says:

    I really really wanna try this frosting on a carrot cake. Can you please tell me how many cups of frosting does it yield with the above mentioned quantity of ingredients?

  6. Jovana says:

    Hi Sue, thank you for sharing this gorgeous cake recipe. Just a quick question, if I want to use some walnuts in my cake, should I chop them finely and add directly to the batter or just chops some on top of the frosting? Which one would you recommend?
    Thank you!

  7. jaymie says:

    for the mascarpone, what substitute can I use for that if I cannot get any?

  8. Amanda says:

    Could I substitute coconut sugar for regular sugar?

  9. Regina McBride says:

    Fabulous photos and recipes? Reminds me of Sara Lees banana cake when I was young ? Thank you Sue ?

    • Sue says:

      This is one of my favorite cakes, Regina. We used to get the Sara Lee chocolate cake all the time when I was a kid, but I’ve never had the banana version.

  10. Terry says:

    I am assuming that Black Cardamon was used. I have never used it before and I have a choice of black or green.
    Looks yummy, I want to bake one tomorrow!

  11. Laureen says:

    Great photos, I never get tired of this recipe, one of my all-time favourites!

  12. darcy says:

    Great recipe! I actually ran out of sugar for the frosting and will have to frost the cake tomorrow. Do you recommend leaving the cake in the freezer overnight and thawing tomorrow and then frosting or should I follow instructions for the cake only and frost tomorrow after cake has been in fridge?

  13. Nina says:

    Just made this cake tonight…really awesome. I was a bit afraid of the cardamom and only added about 1/2 a teaspoon, but definitely encourage others to use the full teaspoon because it was very mild. So moist, amazing frosting!!! A+!

  14. Kim Lopez says:

    Does this batter do well as cupcake?

    • Sue says:

      I haven’t tried Kim, it would be fine I think, as long as you keep a close eye on them while they are in the oven and don’t over bake them.

  15. This cake is seriously stunning! I love banana cake.

  16. Zandra says:

    Sounds wonderful. At which point do you release the cake from the springform pan?

  17. I’m in love with this cake and that frosting looks absolutely divine!

  18. Alison Arsenault says:

    I love bananas & was overjoyed when I saw cloves added to the recipe.& to my utmost delight I have two bananas sitting on my counter. Off to the kitchen I go to give this one a try. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  19. This sounds great! Glad you can eat bananas again!

  20. I love the way spiced vanilla butterream ,makes your cake look extra enticing Sue!

  21. So lovely and love the addition of cloves to the icing!

  22. Amazing looking cake! I love bananas, though rarely have them in cake. Gotta change that, right now! Good recipe — thanks.

  23. cheri says:

    Hi Sue, love banana cake and your frosting sounds delicious, you always have such great ideas and tips.

  24. Susan says:

    If I could only stick a fork in and taste this right now! It looks so delicious, Sue, and the frosting with mascarpone is making my mouth water, and I usually don’t like frosting. Pinning.

  25. Won’t mind a few slices decadence sent my way. Not one bit ;)

  26. Matt says:

    Love the tip on keeping this moist. I absolutely love banana ANYTHING and this looks incredible!

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