This easy spiced banana cake is perfect for fall, featuring warm, earthy spices like cinnamon and cloves, moist banana, and coconut.
Lately, I’ve been really into snacking cakes. Have you heard of snacking cakes? They’ve become super trendy in the last couple of years.
According to Yossy Arefi, author of Snacking Cakes, a snacking cake is a no-fuss, easy-to-whip-up, single-layer cake. While the dessert is simple to make, it doesn’t compromise on flavor. The frosting is optional, because the cake is delicious enough on its own.
A quick history of the snacking cake
Arefi and other bakers like Jessie Sheehan and Edd Kimber popularized the snacking cake, though she admits she did not invent the term. Snacking cakes, of course, are hundreds (maybe thousands) of years old—many cultures “snack” on a piece of cake alongside coffee or tea.
These types of cakes are relatively simple to bake yet flavorful. The other day, as I peered through my friend Brigid’s copy of Snacking Cakes, she mentioned they’re the kind of cakes that “don’t give you a stomachache.” And I totally concur. They’re sweet but not cloying, moist but not dense, and perfect for enjoying with a cup of hot chocolate, warm coffee, or milky tea.
What makes this recipe different?
I developed this spiced coconut banana cake in the style of a snacking cake. The spices, coconut, and banana play off each other very well. It’s like banana bread but lighter, fluffier, and more cake-like. It’s delicious for breakfast – or as a snack during the day.
- Sweet, earthy spices like cinnamon and cloves add a warm, satisfying flavor to this cake.
- Mashed banana adds sweetness and moisture.
- Virgin coconut oil and coconut skyr/yogurt provide moisture and sweet, nutty notes.
- The recipe is flexible; you can make it with a stand mixer or by hand.
- Using an 8-inch square pan, it’s small enough for a household of 1 or 2 yet substantial enough to bring to a brunch.
Ingredients in this spiced banana cake
One other benefit? This recipe uses mostly pantry ingredients, so you can use what you already have at home!
Mashed banana: I call for very ripe bananas, and when I say ripe, I mean it. You’ll want bananas with a dark brown exterior (even riper than just spotted!) and a soft, mushy interior. Ripe bananas provide significantly more banana flavor, sweetness, and moisture.
Coconut skyr or coconut yogurt: Coconut skyr or yogurt adds additional moisture, enhances leavening, and provides a nice sweet coconut flavor with a bit of acidity. I tested this recipe with coconut-flavored skyr, which is dairy skyr with coconut flavoring and shredded coconut mixed in. You can use any kind of coconut skyr or yogurt that you like, but ideally choose one that has pieces of coconut in it for a bit of texture.
Virgin coconut oil: Virgin coconut oil, unlike refined coconut oil, has a sweet, nutty flavor. The coconut flavor is much stronger than in refined coconut oil, which tends to be more neutral. If you can’t find virgin coconut oil, you can absolutely substitute refined oil, just note that the flavor will be more subtle.
Spices: I call for 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves. I really love the combination of cinnamon with just a subtle hint of cloves. You’re welcome to use whatever combination of spices you like — a little bit of ground ginger or cardamom would be delicious here too — but don’t go overboard with the stronger spices like cloves or nutmeg, as they can be very intense.
Frosting (optional): In the recipe below, I provide the option for a cream cheese frosting; the tangy cream cheese is a nice contrast to the sweet cake. In addition to cream cheese, I call for a bit of milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. The frosting is absolutely optional. The cake is delicious on its own, but if you’d like to dress it up a bit, this is a great option. Alternatively, you could serve the cake with a bit of cinnamon whipped cream!
How to quickly ripen bananas
How to make spiced banana cake
This spiced banana cake is easy and comes together quite quickly. Here’s how to do it.
- In a medium bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together.
- You can make the batter by hand or in a stand mixer. If doing this by hand, mash coconut oil and butter with a fork in a separate medium bowl. If doing this in a stand mixer, beat the coconut oil and butter on medium speed with the paddle attachment until mashed and homogeneous in texture.
- By hand: Add the sugars and mash until combined, then begin beating the mixture with a fork until lighter in color and doubled in volume (about 5 minutes). It’s a bit of an arm workout, but highly doable!
By mixer: Add the sugars and beat on medium speed until lighter in color and doubled in volume (about 3 minutes).
Note: It will be slightly less “fluffy” than when you typically cream butter and sugar, because the coconut oil is more liquidy.
- By hand: Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until fully incorporated; the mixture will look slightly curdled, but keep whisking until it smooths out. Whisk in the banana. The mixture may look slightly curdled (this is expected!). Switch to a spatula and alternate adding the dry ingredients and the skyr/yogurt.
By mixer: Beat the eggs and vanilla on medium speed until fully incorporated; the mixture will look slightly curdled, but keep beating until it smooths out, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Beat in the banana until incorporated. The mixture may look slightly curdled (this is expected!). On low speed, alternate adding the the dry ingredients and the skyr/yogurt.
- By hand/mixer: Once the dry ingredients and skyr have all been added, use a spatula to fold in the last bits to prevent any overmixing. Batter will be thick.
- Pour the batter into a metal 8-inch by 8-inch square parchment-lined pan. Make sure the parchment paper creates an overhang on two opposing sides (this makes it easier to remove).
- Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the came comes back clean (or with just a few crumbs). Cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. If desired, decorate or top with frosting!
An unfrosted cake will stay good at room temperature for 3 to 4 days if stored in an airtight container.
Storing the frosted cake
If you choose to frost the cake, you can keep it at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours before it will need to be stored in the fridge. The cake should last 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Serving: If you eat the cake straight from the fridge, it will taste quite dense, so I highly recommend thawing it before serving. Remove the cake from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature, about 45 minutes to an hour. If you’re planning on just snacking on a single piece of cake, warm it up in the microwave in 10 second intervals until it reaches room temperature.
For best results, use a scale! This will ensure your ingredients are measured accurately. Avoid overcreaming the butter and sugars – once the mixture is lighter in color and significantly increased in volume, it’s done.
Unfortunately, no. This banana cake has a lighter, fluffier texture than banana bread.
- Serve the banana cake with a side of cinnamon whipped cream
- Just before baking, sprinkle the top of the batter with turbinado sugar for a crunchy sweet crust.
- Up the coconut flavor by mixing in some unsweetened shredded coconut into the batter or 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract.
- Drizzle salted caramel on top of the cake.
Did you try this recipe? I would love to hear your feedback! Be sure to rate the recipe and leave a comment below.
For even more cozy recipes, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter.Happy eating! Love, Karishma
Spiced Banana Cake (with Coconut) Recipe
For the cake:
- 188 grams all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 cups
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon diamond-crystal kosher salt, if using any other salt, use 1/4 teaspoon
- 56 grams unsalted butter, room temperature, 1/4 cup
- 60 grams virgin coconut oil, 1/4 cup
- 50 grams granulated white sugar, 1/4 cup
- 53 grams dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup
- 2 large eggs, 114g in shell, room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 127 grams very ripe banana, about 1 large, mashed with a fork
- 150 grams sweetened coconut skyr or yogurt, I use Icelandic Provisions coconut skyr
- 4 ounces full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
- 42 grams unsalted butter, room temperature, about 3 tablespoons
- 44 grams powdered sugar, about 1/3 cup
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tbsp milk
- 15 grams unsweetened toasted coconut flakes, 1/3 cup, loosely packed
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C. Spray or grease an 8-inch by 8-inch square baking pan, then line with parchment paper. Make sure the parchment paper hangs over two opposite sides of the pan, so that you can easily remove the cake after baking.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until combined. Set aside.188 grams all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon diamond-crystal kosher salt
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or an electric hand mixer), beat butter and coconut oil on medium speed until mashed, about 1 to 2 minutes.You can also mix the batter by hand, using a fork. See this section for instructions.56 grams unsalted butter, 60 grams virgin coconut oil
- Add the white sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium speed until light and slightly fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Mixture will appear slightly liquidy.50 grams granulated white sugar, 53 grams dark brown sugar
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract, and banana on medium speed until incorporated. Mixture will look slightly curdled – that’s normal (it will smooth out when you add the flour).2 large eggs, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 127 grams very ripe banana
- Reduce speed to low, then alternate adding the dry ingredients and the skyr until just combined. Do not overmix. Batter will be thick.150 grams sweetened coconut skyr or yogurt
- Use a spatula to scrape batter into the baking pan and smooth out into an even layer with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (or with just a few crumbs attached).
- Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.
- Frost cake with cream cheese frosting (see below), if desired. Otherwise, slice cake into 9 equal pieces and serve.
Make the frosting (optional):
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Loosen the frosting with milk, as needed. Taste, adding in additional powdered sugar if desired.4 ounces full-fat cream cheese, 42 grams unsalted butter, 44 grams powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1-2 tbsp milk
- Frost cake with cream cheese frosting using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Top with toasted coconut. Slice cake into 9 equal pieces and serve.15 grams unsweetened toasted coconut flakes