This old fashioned Banana Cake with walnuts is SO moist and delicious. The cream cheese frosting takes it over the top!
Banana bread meets cake in this moist and decadent Old Fashioned Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.
It’s made in a 13×9 inch pan, so it’s great for a gathering (just like my Heath Bar Cake or this Coconut Poke Cake!). I cut it into 15 pieces but you can make them smaller or larger.
The recipe comes from a vintage church cookbook, and was submitted by a woman named Dorothy in Illinois. I was all set to frost it with a caramel icing, but Dorothy mentioned to, “put a cream cheese icing on it”. So I followed Dorothy’s advice and I was not disappointed!
The tangy cream cheese frosting contrasts perfectly with the sweet banana cake. Your family and friends will adore this vintage recipe!
And if you’re on the hunt for more vintage cakes, don’t miss my Grandma’s Old Fashioned Date Cake.
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- You’ll need three small, ripe bananas for this recipe. They should have brown spots all over them for the best banana flavor in the cake.
- You can make your own buttermilk for this recipe using vinegar and regular milk. Follow the instructions in the recipe notes for that.
- I used finely chopped walnuts for this recipe, but pecans would be delicious, too. Or, if you prefer, leave the nuts out altogether.
How to make old fashioned banana cake
First, make sure your butter is soft! You’ll need one stick for the cake and one stick for the frosting. To soften butter, leave it on the countertop for at least two hours before you start baking.
Put the cream cheese on the countertop, too—that’ll need to be softened for the frosting. Here are some tips for softening it in a hurry, if you forget!
Place the flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until combined.
Next, place the butter and sugar in a LARGE bowl. Trust me on the large part—this makes a lot of cake batter! Beat the butter and sugar with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, vanilla, and bananas and beat well. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure that everything is incorporated.
Add half the buttermilk and half the flour mixture. Fold it into the butter mixture with a spatula. Don’t use the mixer here—it’s important to not over mix the batter at this point, which will result in a tough cake.
Add the remaining buttermilk and the remaining flour mixture, and fold it in with the spatula. Fold in the nuts.
Pour the mixture into a greased 13×9 inch cake pan. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes, then place a sheet of aluminum foil over the top of the cake.
You don’t need to curl the foil around the edges, just place a loose sheet on top of the pan. Continue baking the cake for another 15 minutes.
To see if the cake is done, insert a toothpick into the middle. If the toothpick comes out clean or with a few dry crumbs, the cake is ready. If the toothpick has wet, dough-y crumbs on it, then bake it for 5 more minutes and test again.
How to make cream cheese frosting
Once the cake is completely cool, it’s time to make the frosting!
It’s important that both the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature. If either or both are cold, the frosting will be chunky. We want a nice smooth frosting here, so leave them out on the countertop for a few hours before making this frosting.
Beat the softened butter and softened cream cheese in a large glass bowl until fluffy.
Add the vanilla and one cup of powdered sugar. Beat on low until combined. Repeat with the remaining powdered sugar until a smooth frosting forms.
Once the cake is completely cool, frost the old fashioned banana cake with all of the frosting. A small offset spatula works perfectly for this.
Old Fashioned Banana Cake: Frequently Asked Questions
Finely chopped pecans or finely chopped peanuts would both be delicious in this recipe.
Try these instructions for softening butter in the microwave. Two of the methods also work for cream cheese!
To make your own buttermilk, pour 1 tablespoon of vinegar into a glass measuring cup. Fill the rest of the cup with milk, up to the 1-cup line. Let sit for 5 minutes. You will see the milk begin to curdle. You just made a great substitute for buttermilk!
Any kind of cow’s milk (2%, whole, etc.) works for this. You can use white vinegar, white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
Make it ahead
To make Old Fashioned Banana Cake ahead of time, prepare the cake as directed, but do NOT make the frosting. Let cool and cover the cake tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for up to 2 days.
When you’re ready to serve the cake, remove it from the refrigerator, and prepare the cream cheese frosting. Frost the cake and serve.
Storing and serving the banana cake
I recommend storing Old Fashioned Banana Cake in the refrigerator. However, banana cake is best served at room temperature, so remove the cake from the refrigerator about an hour before you’re ready to serve it.
I cut the cake into 15 slices—I got three slices out of the short edge and five slices out of the long edge. The cake is very rich, and you can make the pieces as large or small as you like!
Lastly, if you love old fashioned cakes, don’t miss this recipe for Orange Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Coconut. Along with this Easy Pumpkin Bundt Cake, it’s one of my absolute favorites.
And Homemade Hawaiian Cake is another of my favorites to use up brown bananas!
Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!
Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cake:
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
- 2 eggs
- 3 small very ripe bananas
- 1 cup buttermilk (see notes below for a DIY version)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup finely chopped walnuts
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 8 oz cream cheese (1 block), softened
- ½ cup butter (1 stick), softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2½ cups powdered sugar
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13×9 inch pan with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- In another large bowl, beat the sugar and ½ cup butter on high until fluffy, about 2–3 minutes.
- Add the eggs, vanilla, and bananas, and beat until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, if needed.
- Add half of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk. Stir gently with a spatula until incorporated.
- Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and buttermilk. Stir in the walnuts.
- Pour the batter into the greased 13×9 inch pan. Bake for 20 minutes, then put a piece of aluminum foil over the top to prevent the cake from browning too much. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool completely before spreading on the frosting.
For the cream cheese frosting:
- Beat the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl until creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the vanilla and powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating after each addition.
- Spread the frosting on the cooled banana cake. Cut into 15 pieces and serve.
- Store any leftover cake in the refrigerator.
Joan Rudd says
Please specify banana measurements. I used 3 bananas and the cake had to cook for 60 minutes because it was too runny and then was ruined for taste abd quality. I suspect too much banana.