An easy-to-make, soft, fluffy, moist and perfectly spiced Vegan Banana Cake smothered in decadent vegan cream cheese frosting.
Vegan Banana Bread I see you and love you, but now you need to move over and make room for Vegan Banana Cake.
This recipe is for those times when you want your baking to be a little more refined (notice I stress little ... we aren't getting all fancy here ... this is still really easy!) and for when only soft and fluffy cake and frosting will do.
In this post:
I'm loving this vegan banana cake recipe because:
- It's classically delicious in a way that only banana cake can be
- It's super soft, fluffy and moist
- It's full of spiced sweet banana flavour
- It's smothered in vegan cream cheese frosting
- It's easy to make with basic ingredients
- It's cooked in an 9 x 13 inch dish so is great for feeding a crowd and for transporting
What do I need to make this recipe and why?
(For detailed measurements and instructions, see the printable recipe card).
First up let's look at what you'll be needing to make this easy banana cake and why:
- Bananas - 3 whole ones for great banana flavour. Don't change the amount as it will affect the texture of the crumb. Make sure the bananas are very ripe and spotty.
- Flour - I use all purpose flour but you could use white whole wheat or spelt too.
- Sugar - I like to use golden cane sugar but white sugar is fine. You could also use light brown sugar or coconut sugar, or half dark brown sugar, and half cane or white sugar.
- Oil - Just about any will do here but don’t use vegan butter. Oil is important for moistness in the finished cake. I typically use avocado oil in baking recipes (I buy the linked Chosen Food brand but from Costco because it’s great value), but melted coconut oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, light olive oil (not extra virgin) are all fine. If using coconut oil I recommend you use refined coconut oil so that your banana cake doesn't end up with coconut undertones (unless you're ok with that). Nut butter can be used to make the recipe oil-free. See the recipe notes for more details.
- Cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, salt - All here for the flavour!
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda – When you don’t use eggs you need to make up for the leavening they would otherwise provide by adding both of these as well as the next essential ingredient.
- Apple cider vinegar – Reacts with the baking soda and creates lift and lightness. It’s my go-to because of it’s light, fruity, not as tart as white vinegar taste. Technically any acid will do though so you could sub it for lemon juice or white vinegar if that's all you have.
- Milk – Any unsweetened non-dairy milk is fine to use. I tend to use my cashew milk or oat milk because I always have some on hand.
- Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting - Made with vegan cream cheese, vegan butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, salt and my magic ingredient arrowroot flour. It's optional though. I give some other suggestions for how to serve and top the cake further down.
How to make Vegan Banana Cake
So now you know what you'll be needing, let's see how it's done:
Step 1- Mash up the bananas so they become a puree. A fork is all you need but using an electric mixer is a quick way to get the job done!
Step 2 - Add the sugar, spices and all of the wet ingredients to the banana.
Step 3 - Mix them together really well.
Step 4 - Add the flour, baking powder and baking soda to the wet ingredients and mix them together gently to make a batter.
Step 5 - Pour the batter into a dish and bake.
Step 6 - Once the cake has cooled completely, smother in vegan cream cheese frosting. First though admire the beautiful golden colour of that sponge!!
- Use very ripe bananas. They should be brown and spotty.
- Don't use more or less banana. The vegan banana cake recipe has been tested thoroughly and this is the perfect amount for the best banana flavour and a light, moist, fluffy sponge.
- The time this cake takes to bake can vary depending on your oven and the kind of dish/pan you cook it in. To get it as close to mine as possible use a glass dish. I use a Pyrex Basics 9 x 13 glass baking dish.
- Do not over mix the batter. As with all cakes, the more you mix, the more you activate the gluten in the flour which really affects the texture and rise of the finished cake.
- Follow the recipe closely and as always with recipes involving flour, I highly recommend that you use a kitchen scale. Cup measurements are not accurate enough to get the best and consistent results. Digital kitchen scales are available at most big superstores now and you can pick one up for around $10. They are a great investment and are so worth having! If you do need to use cups, spoon the flour into the cup then level off the top with a knife without compacting it or shaking it down. By doing it like this you will get roughly the correct amount and make your chances of success better. Do not scoop the flour up into the cup as you will end up with much more than intended and it will affect the outcome of the recipe.
- Don't try to remove the cake from the dish. It should be kept in the dish and individual slices cut out as needed.
This vegan banana cake is just perfect as it is but here are some ways you can adapt it:
- Bake the cake and don't frost it. Cut it into squares, warm each one for about 20 seconds in a microwave and serve with a dollop of melty vegan butter and a drizzle of maple syrup. <----- Highly recommend this option!
- Add chocolate chips to the cake batter.
- Add chopped nuts to the cake batter
- Drizzle my easy vegan caramel sauce or date caramel over the cream cheese frosting.
- Bake as a layer cake (see recipe notes for more details).
- Make as cupcakes (see recipe notes for more details).
- Bake in a bundt pan (see recipe notes for more details).
- Bake in an 8 x 8 inch pan (see recipe notes)
What frosting goes well with banana cake?
Banana cake is fantastic with a tangy cream cheese frosting like the one included here, but it's also great with any of the following so feel free to switch it up and make it your own:
- Cinnamon cream cheese frosting - add ½ teaspoon of cinnamon to the frosting when you add the powdered sugar.
- Peanut butter cream cheese frosting - add ½ cup of peanut butter to the frosting. Whip it with the butter then add the other ingredients as instructed.
- Chocolate cream cheese frosting - add ½ to ¾ cup of cocoa powder to the cream cheese frosting at the same time as you add the powdered sugar. Sprinkle some chocolate shavings over the top.
- Lemon cream cheese frosting - add one teaspoon of lemon extract instead of the vanilla extract. Do not add any more liquid than that to it as the frosting will get too loose, but feel free to add some lemon zest.
- Regular vegan buttercream (vanilla, chocolate or peanut butter)
- Thick chocolate ganache
- Make a simple powdered sugar and plant milk glaze.
- Good old peanut butter straight from the jar!
- The frosting from the Peanut Butter Nutter Chocolate Cake on page 163 of my cookbook.
How to make Vegan Banana Cake with no oil
If you would like to make this vegan banana cake with no oil, replace the oil with the same amount of nut butter and increase the amount of milk used by a third of a cup (80 mls). You will need to blend the nut butter with the milk before adding it so that it incorporates well.
I recommend using cashew butter because it has a mild buttery flavour, but as long as you are ok with the nutty flavour coming through, almond butter or peanut butter will work too.
The frosting however needs the vegan butter to be successful so you will need to enjoy it unfrosted or find an alternative frosting solution.
Please bear in mind that when you make this banana cake oil-free, you will not get the same light, soft and fluffy sponge. It will be darker in colour, slightly heavier and not as soft and fluffy.
How to quickly ripen bananas for baking
If you want to make a recipe that calls for very soft, ripe and spotty bananas but your bananas haven't reached that stage yet, don't worry. You can easily hurry them along. All you need to do is preheat an oven to 300 F (148 C). Then line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Separate the underripe bananas and lay them on the tray as they are, skins intact.
Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. They will have turned completely black and will be perfectly soft and sweet and mushy inside. When you want to use them slice the skin open and scoop or squeeze out the soft banana flesh and use in your recipe.
Making ahead, freezing and storage
- To make ahead and store the unfrosted cake - This cake keeps really well in the fridge. Bake, allow to cool, cover the dish tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days before frosting.
- To make ahead and store the frosted cake - Bake, allow to cool, then frost, cover tightly and store in the fridge for 5 to 6 days.
- To make the frosting ahead - make as directed then cover tightly and refrigerate. When you are ready to frost the cake, remove the frosting from the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes so that it softens slightly. Then give it a quick mix with the electric mixer to fluff it up before frosting the cake.
- To freeze - Bake the cake, allow to cool completely, then wrap the entire thing (dish as well) very tightly and freeze for up to 3 months. (Be sure you are using a freezer safe dish). Defrost in the fridge overnight. I do not recommend freezing the frosting.
Vegan Banana CakeAuthor:
For the cake
- 3 medium bananas * (approx 375 grams or 13 oz in total)
- ¾ cup / 150 g sugar **
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup / 80 mls non dairy milk of choice
- ½ cup / 120 mls neutral oil of choice , not vegan butter (see notes for oil-free option)
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 cups / 375 g all purpose flour , (plain flour in the UK)***
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda , (bicarbonate of soda in the UK)
For the cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C) and grease a 9 x 13 inch ovenproof dish with some oil or vegan butter.
- Peel the bananas and put them in a large bowl. Mash them up really well until they are a smoothish puree.
- To the bananas add the sugar, vinegar, vanilla, milk, oil, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk them up until well combined.
- Add the flour, baking powder and baking soda to the wet ingredients and stir them together gently to combine. Don't beat hard or use an electric whisk, and stop as soon as there is no dry flour visible anymore.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until golden brown, coming away from the sides slightly and a skewer/toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. The time will vary depending on your oven and the dish/pan you are cooking the cake in. 40 minutes cooking time is based on using a glass dish. If you use metal it will likely be ready a little quicker so check from 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the dish on a wire rack.
- Once the cake is completely cool slather the frosting all over it.
For the frosting
- Add the vegan butter to a large bowl and beat it with an electric mixer on a medium high speed until soft and fluffy.
- Add the cream cheese and beat again until combined and smooth but don't over-beat. As soon as it's combined stop.
- Now add the arrowroot powder, salt, vanilla and about 2 cups of the powdered sugar. Beat on the lowest speed for about 20 seconds until the powdered sugar has stopped flying around, then add another 2 cups. Beat again on low until it's mostly combined then turn the speed up to medium high again and beat until smooth and creamy, scraping down the edges with a spatula as needed to get any dry powdered sugar off the sides and into the mix.
- Add the remaining powdered sugar to thicken as needed. Using it all makes the frosting much easier to handle, spread and pipe. As soon as it's nice and smooth stop. It's important not to over-beat.
- Do not be tempted to add any more liquid to the frosting at any stage because it will become too runny. Once done, cover the bowl and put in the fridge until needed.
- Slather generously all over the top of the banana cake.
For the very best results, weighing the ingredients with a digital kitchen scale and measuring with measuring spoons (where appropriate) is highly recommended. Cup measurements aren’t accurate enough for consistent results when baking.
Storage - Wrap the frosted cake well and store in the fridge for 5 to 6 days. Freezing - Once cool wrap the unfrosted cake well and freeze for up to 3 months. I do not recommend freezing the frosting. *Bananas - The bananas should be approximately 8 inches in length and once peeled the total weight of the 3 bananas should be about 375g / 13 oz. A few grams either side is ok though. It doesn't have to be absolutely exact, just pretty close. **Sugar - I like to use golden cane sugar but white sugar is fine. You could also use light brown sugar or coconut sugar, or half dark brown sugar, and half cane or white sugar. ***Flour - I use all purpose flour but you could use white whole wheat or spelt too. ****Vegan butter - For the frosting it is important to use a vegan butter that is on the harder side like my vegan butter recipe, Miyoko’s Butter or Earth Balance. Soft spreads like Becel and Flora make a much looser frosting. *****Arrowroot powder - Sometimes called arrowroot starch or arrowroot flour. This really helps keep the frosting stable, thicker and firmer. You could use cornstarch instead but arrowroot works best and isn't detectable at all. Bake as a layer cake - You can use two lined 9 inch pans and bake at the same temperature for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick/skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. There will be enough frosting to sandwich it and frost the top and sides. Bake as cupcakes - This recipe will make about 24 cupcakes so you might want to half it. Fill the cupcake cases to about 3/4 full and bake at the same temperature for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick/skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Bake as a bundt cake - Bake at the same temperature for about 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick/skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Bake in an 8 x 8 inch dish - Half the recipe. Bake at the same temperature for about 30to 35 minutes or until a toothpick/skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Make oil-free - Use half a cup of nut butter instead of the oil and increase the amount of milk used by one third of a cup (80 mls). You will need to blend the nut butter with the milk before adding it so that it incorporates well. I recommend using cashew butter because it has a mild buttery flavour, but as long as you are ok with the nutty flavour coming through, almond butter or peanut butter will work too. The frosting however needs the vegan butter to be successful so you will need to enjoy it unfrosted or find an alternative frosting solution.
Nutritional information is provided for convenience. The data is a computer generated estimate and should be used as a guide only.