The best banana cake I've ever eaten, filled with banana pastry cream and covered in cream cheese buttercream. This cake is soft, buttery, tender, creamy and dreamy.
Banana Cake with Banana Cream Filling and Cream Cheese Buttercream
Just like one of my other favorite cream filled cakes, Coconut Cream Cake, this Banana Cream Cake is incredibly rich and creamy.
When I began working on this recipe, I knew I wanted every slice to include a lot of banana cream filling. Like, a lot a lot.
So, stacking cake layers with banana cream sandwiched in between was out because if you spread the layers with too much cream filling, they just slip and slide right off. Not that I didn't try. And not that we didn't eat the result even though it was a complete mess.
What works out SO MUCH better is to bake the cake in a bundt pan and then squeezed the filling inside, Twinkie style. This results in slices of cake that contain quite a bit of creamy, dreamy, insanely delicious pastry cream.
But... I still wanted MORE.
So, the recipe makes enough to fill the cake with a generous amount of banana cream and still have enough left over to dollop a spoonful or two (or three) over the top of each slice.
How to Make the Best Banana Cream Filling
The banana cream filling for this cake is nothing more than a batch of my all-time favorite pastry cream with a banana beaten into it. If you've been a relatively frequent visitor to this site over the years, you've likely learned two things about me:
- I feel that salt is greatly underrated in sweet things
- I love, love, LOVE this pastry cream recipe
My favorite pastry cream recipe is super simple, remarkably stable, and perfect for anything from filing a pie, to layering into a flaky Napoleon, to filling doughnuts, profiteroles and eclairs and, of course, to fill a cake with creamy, dreamy deliciousness.
The pastry cream will keep for days in the refrigerator and will hold its own at room temperature for hours without breaking down. Also, and most importantly, it's ridiculously rich and delicious.
Banana Cream Filling Tips and Tricks:
- Pastry cream is super easy to make but needs at least 3 hours in the refrigerator to cool down before using it. After it's completely cool, lighten it up a bit by beating whipped cream into it and then adding a mashed banana.
- The pastry cream will keep well in the refrigerator for at least 48 hours BEFORE you add the mashed banana. Once the banana has been added, use the pastry cream to fill the cake within an hour or two.
- Make sure to allow the cake to cool completely before filling it with pastry cream or the pastry cream will just melt and run out of the cake.
How to Fill a Bundt Cake with Pastry Cream:
In order to achieve the cake-to-banana-cream-filling ratio that I wanted in a banana cream cake, I baked it as a bundt cake and squeezed the banana cream filling into the center just like a giant Twinkie. The technique is pretty simple as long as you're careful to not allow filling to squirt out the top and sides.
Before you begin, you're going to need:
I used a large round decorator tip, but a star shaped one will work just as well. Drop the tip into the pastry bag, clip the top of the bag off to allow the tip to poke through, and fill the bag with pastry cream so that it's about halfway full.
Flip the cake upside down, so that the flat bottom is facing up. (BTW - It's super important that the cake be 100% cool before you fill it or it will just melt the pastry cream.)
Insert the decorator tip into the center of the cake and squeeze some banana cream filling in there. As you do, the bottom of the cake will crack. This is ok. Just watch to make sure that you're not squeezing so much filling in there that the sides and top are cracking as well.
After the cake has been filled with pastry cream, position a plate or cake stand over the bottom of the cake and carefully flip it over so that it's right side up again.
See that? The filling is now a hidden gem. A delicious surprise for every lucky duck you share a slice with.
Why This Recipe Calls for Cake Flour
Cake flour is a type of flour that is very finely milled from soft winter wheat. In comparison to all-purpose flour, cake flour has a lower protein content and it is finer, lighter, softer, and has a grain that's is less dense. The reason cake flour is so great for cakes is because of its low protein content.
The higher the protein in flour, the more gluten development there will be. This is great when you want the final product to be strong and highly elastic - like when baking bread. But, when you want the opposite result of a soft, tender crumb, low protein content and low gluten development is key.
There are several things you can do to discourage gluten development in cake:
- Treat the batter gently after adding the flour. Stir just until the flour has been incorporated into the batter. The more the dough is mixed or kneaded, the more the glutens develop.
- Add plenty of fat to the batter because fat inhibits gluten development.
- Start with low protein flour - like cake flour.
Cake Flour Substitution:
If you don't have any cake flour, you can make a substitution by replacing approximately 2 tablespoons of every cup of all purpose flour with cornstarch. This will lower the protein content to similar levels as what you'll find in cake flour.
Cream Cheese Buttercream Was Made for This Cake
The cream cheese buttercream in this cake recipe is little more than a half-batch of my standard, go-to, delicious every time cream cheese buttercream recipe. Its slight tang and super creamy texture goes perfectly with this cake.
Other Buttercream Options:
If you're not a fan of cream cheese buttercream, or simply don't have any cream cheese on hand, here are a couple of other good options:
True confessions: I might like chocolate buttercream on this cake even more than cream cheese buttercream because chocolate and banana is just sooooo YUM. But, it does change the overall flavor profile of the cake significantly.
Whatever you use to frost your cake, I love adding a sprinkle of crushed vanilla wafers. They are a nostalgic nod to classic banana pudding and add just the right amount of texture and crunch to this super creamy cake.
Do Bananas have seeds?
As a fun little aside, while working on this recipe the thought occurred to me - why are bananas considered a fruit? I mean, all fruit has seeds, but do bananas have seeds?
I found the answer in this fun little article, aptly named, Do Bananas Have Seeds? I actually learned things about bananas from reading the article than I ever even thought to ask. 😊
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or take a picture and tag it #ofbatteranddough on Instagram.
For the Banana Cream Filling:
- 1 recipe Favorite Pastry Cream
- 1 large very ripe banana, mashed
For the Banana Bundt Cake:
- 3 cups cake flour (No cake flour? Seen note below for a substitution)
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon table salt (1 teaspoon kosher salt)
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ cup butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 3 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 ¾ cup mashed very ripe bananas (3-4 bananas)
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
For the Cream Cheese Buttercream:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4-5 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup crushed vanilla wafer cookies, for sprinkling over the frosted cake (optional)
- Follow the instructions to make my all-time Favorite Pastry Cream, following the instructions (step #9 in the recipe) to chill the cream for at least 3 hours, and up to 48 hours.
Make the banana bundt cake:
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the inside of a 10-inch (12 cup) bundt pan with vegetable shortening or butter. Sprinkle flour inside the pan and shake it around so that the entire inside of the pan is coated with flour.
- Add the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and ginger to a large bowl and stir with a wire whisk to combine.
- Beat the butter, vegetable oil, and brown sugar with an electic mixer on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat the eggs and egg yolk in one at a time, beating on medium-high speed after each addition until fully incorporated.
- Beat in the vanilla, then the mashed banana, beating until well combined.
- Mix in the buttermilk and flour mixture in alternating additions, starting and ending with the flour: Flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, flour. Beat in each addtion on low speed, mixing just long enough to barely incorporate one addition before adding the next. Be careful to not over mix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smothing out the top with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
- Baake the cake in the center of the oven for 50 - 60 minutes. The cake is done when it's pulling away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out without any raw batter on it.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool inside the pan for 5 minutes. Gently turn it out of the pan onto a wire rack and let it cool completely before filling and frosting.
Make the Cream Cheese Buttercream:
- Beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, salt, and 4 cups powdered sugar with an elecrtic mixer on low just until blended. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat for 2-3 minutes, until creamy and smooth. Add more powdered sugar if necissary to achieve a spreadable consistancy.
Fill and Frost the Cake:
- After beating the whipped cream into the pastry cream (steps 10 and 11 in the pastry cream recipe), beat in the mashed banana.
- Fit a pastry bag with a large round or star shaped decorator tip (see links below) and fill it with pastry cream. Set the cake upside down on a work surface.
- Poke the decorator tip into the cake and squeeze some filling into it. The surface of the cake's bottom will split slightly as you do this and that's ok. Just be careful to not insert so much pastry cream that the sides and top of the cake begin to split. *See photos above.
- Continue to move around the cake, filling the entire center of the cake with pastry cream. Again, see photos above for reference.
- Carefully turn the cake over onto a plate or cake stand. Cover the cake with cream cheese buttercream then sprinkle crushed vanilla waffers over the buttercream.
- Serve each slice of cake with an additional dollop of banana pastry cream.
If you don't have cake flour, you can make the following substitution:
Combine 2 ⅔ cup all-purpose flour and ⅓ cup cornstarch. Cake flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour making this cake extremily soft and tender. Replacing some all-purpose flour with cornstarch will have a similar effect.
Substitute for Buttermilk:
If you don't have buttermilk, fill a measuring cup with 1 ½ cups milk and then replace 1 tablespoon of the milk with lemon juice or plain distilled vinegar. Stir and let stand for about 5 minutes before using.
This cake should be refrigerated if not serving within 3 hours of filling and frosting. The cake will keep for up to 48 hours in the refrigerator.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 537Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 119mgSodium: 445mgCarbohydrates: 68gFiber: 1gSugar: 44gProtein: 6g
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