I feel as if this cake is a childhood memory for most kids that grew up in New Zealand. Banana cake, covered in what we affectionately refer to as "shitty chocolate icing". You know the stuff - icing sugar, cocoa, a little bit of butter, and then a little bit of boiling water which inevitably turns into adding too much, having to add more icing sugar, overshooting that, adding more water, etc etc. The best. We often had this as our birthday cakes when we were kids, but would have 'plain' icing instead that we were allowed to colour ourselves - I have very strong memories of managing to get half a bottle of yellow food colouring into a bowl of icing and having THE most bright yellow cake ever. It was awesome.
Turns out Rich has even more ties to homemade banana cake than I do - he went to boarding school and quite often his mum would make him a banana cake with chocolate icing to have in his 'tuck box'. Lucky for him, I tend to be useless at remembering to use bananas up before they go brown, so banana cake/bread/shortbread happens extremely frequently in our house.
Rich also happens to not be a huge fan of buttercream. I have learnt to turn my back while he scrapes most of it off a cupcake into the bin. For this reason, (because he is the primary banana related baked goods consumer in our house), the ratio of this cake is mainly cake:not much buttercream. It is essentially two banana cakes, glued together with a teeny bit of buttercream. I like to run a line of piped buttercream between the two layers to tidy things up, then load up the top with icing sugar, pop on some rosemary, and we are away laughing. He requests it for his birthday every year, which makes life significantly easier on my part!
The cake itself is super simple. It is a great go-to. (as are most recipes from the Edmonds cookbook). If my bananas are super ripe, and I would like minimal dishes, I throw them in the stand mixer with the creamed butter/sugar mixture rather than mashing them by hand. If they aren't crazy ripe, mashing them by hand helps.
The buttercream is a slightly more fancy variation of "Shitty chocolate buttercream". I like using butter straight out of the fridge and 'softening' it using the mixer, as opposed to softening it before you use it. It gives you a slightly colder finished product that is easier to handle. However I haven't tried this without a stand mixer, so if you are using an electric beater, it may be easier to have the butter already soft. The recipe here will leave you with some buttercream left over, which I figure is probably helpful as most people like a slightly higher ratio of buttercream to cake than this, so feel free to spread it on the top/sides. If you make this into a four layer cake (and slice the cakes into two), doubling the buttercream recipe would be beneficial.
This is a fairly large recipe, so if you only have a couple of bananas, or are looking for something smaller, halving it will work beautifully.
Ps how great is the crown cake stand?!? My Mum got it for me the last time I was home, from a teeny pottery shop near Nelson (my hometown). Its a one of a kind, and is inspired by Max's crown from "Where the wild things are". It also turns up the other way and can be used as a bowl! I LOVE it! Thanks Mama Bear! xx
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A note on salt and oven temperature
It is important to note the type of salt that is called for in a recipe. I use Diamond Crystal salt throughout my recipes - if you use a different sort of kosher salt or regular table salt you will need to adjust accordingly as some salt is 'saltier' than others. Morton's salt is twice as salty, so you will need half the quantity. Same goes for a regular table salt. I am working to get gram measurements throughout my recipes for salt but still getting there.
All oven temperatures are conventional unless otherwise stated. If you are baking on fan / convection, you will need to adjust the temperature. An oven thermometer is a great investment to ensure that your oven is the correct temperature.
Using the double / triple function in the recipe card
You will notice that there is a '1X' '2X' '3X' button in my recipe card. This can be used for doubling or tripling a recipe. However, please note that this only doubles the ingredient quantities in the ingredients list and NOT in the method. If there are quantities or pan sizes in the method of the recipe (for example weigh out 150g brown butter), you will need to scale this number manually. It will also not change the baking time in the recipe so you will need to adjust this yourself too. It is always a good idea to read through a recipe fully before doubling it just to check this. If you would like to scale this recipe or convert for another pan size, use my calculator!
Tools and equipment
For a list of my go-to tools and equipment, I have a post you can refer to here.
Why is this recipe in grams?
I post my recipes in grams as it is the most accurate way to bake. Cups are not only inaccurate but they vary in volume worldwide. There is no way for me to provide one cup measure that works for everyone. However, posting in weight fixes this issue. If you would like the recipe in cups you are welcome to convert it yourself via google, but please do not ask me to do it for you as I am not comfortable providing a recipe using a method that I have not tested. Baking with a scale is easy, accurate, and also makes cleanup super simple. Here is the scale that I use if you would like a recommendation! Here's to accurate baking!Print
Banana cake with chocolate buttercream
- 250g (2 ¼ sticks/8.8oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 350g (1 ¾ cups) sugar
- 4 eggs
- 4 ripe bananas, mashed
- 2 tsp (8grams) baking soda
- 60ml (¼ cup) milk
- 500g (4 cups) All-purpose flour
- 2 tsp (8 grams) baking powder
- 250g (2 sticks/8oz) butter
- 500g (4 cups) Icing Sugar/powdered sugar
- 50g (½ cup) Cocoa Powder
- 1 Tbsp Vanilla
- 3 Tbsp (45ml) milk
- Preheat the oven to 350f/180c. Grease two 8 inch cake tins.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add bananas and beat until incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, ensuring bowl is well scraped down and mixture is well combined.
- Heat milk in the microwave, or a small pan until boiling. Add baking soda to milk, and add to the mix, mixing until well combined.
- Sift flour and baking powder, and add to the mixture. Mix briefly until just combined. Divide between the two prepared tins, and bake 30-40 minutes until lightly golden, and a tester inserted in the middle of a cake comes out clean. A ramekin of water in the oven with the cakes will help generate steam and reduce doming. If you don't mind the cake being a little more dense, you can also place a clean tea towel over the cake soon after it comes out of the oven and press down gently to help lessen the dome. Cool in their tins for 10 minutes, then carefully remove and allow to completely cool on a wire rack.
Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or with an electric beater until pale and fluffy. (if you are using a stand mixer, I find it best to 'soften' the butter from cold with the mixer). Add vanilla, and sifted icing sugar and cocoa, and beat until well incorporated. Add the milk and beat on high until whipped and fluffy. Transfer to a large piping bag fitted with a large round tip (I used an Ateco #808)
Level off the cooled cakes with a sharp bread knife or cake leveler. Place one cake right side up on a turntable or cake stand, and pipe a thick layer of buttercream onto the surface of the cake. Spread out with a small offset spatula, then place the second cake upside down onto the buttercream. Ensure that they are well aligned, then using the piping bag, pipe a continuous line of buttercream around the middle of the cake, where the two layers meet. You will likely have some buttercream left over so feel free to use this on the top of the cake. Dust top of the cake liberally with icing sugar, and garnish with your favourite herbs (I like rosemary). Enjoy!
Cake adapted from "Edmonds Cookbook"