Old-Fashioned Banana Cake

The problem with making desserts for Shabbat is that we can’t take pictures of the final project…I mean, you can see the cake and how it looked right out of the oven, but you can’t see it sliced and on a plate, which is too bad because this cake was pretty. Okay, the pan is a little bit messy, but at least my counter is clean! Oh, and the other problem is that you have to make the desserts pareve. Which means no cream cheese frosting! Those who dare to eat pareve whipped topping dolloped some on top of their cake. I ate it plain and it was amazing just the way it was.

I bake a lot of banana breads, cakes, cookies, and muffins. Why? Because my bananas always turn brown, no matter what! Even when I hang them on my banana tree (I mean, my dough hook that hangs from the cabinet). I often freeze the almost-bad bananas for smoothies, too. Well, when I realized how many banana desserts I made, I decided to test a bunch of different cake recipes just to see if banana can make an awesome cake for dessert, not a breakfast quick bread. And it worked! Ina saves the day yet again.

This was definitely more cake-y than other banana cake recipes I’ve tried, though not perfect. I added some chocolate chips, just to make it more like dessert. And that definitely helped. The frosting would have probably made it 100% dessert. Oh, not that my family didn’t devour the entire thing. They did. Did I mention that it’s awesome, even when pareve? Of course, this is an Ina recipe, though you won’t find it on the Food Network site. There are plenty of bloggers out there who tried it and loved it, though. So you can see their final pictures and comments if you want some more inspiration or the original recipe.

The original recipe called for sour cream, and while I know that I can easily buy Tofutti brand vegan sour cream, I did not want to add hydrogenated oils to my banana cake. So instead I figured that it was in there for moisture and fat content and decided to just add more fat in the form of Earth Balance shortening. It worked out well. The texture was still great and the cake was still moist. And no one mentioned that there was anything strange about the cake. And no one commented that there way way too much fat in it. Maybe next time I will try it with apple sauce.

Did I tell you that I snuck in whole wheat pastry flour and no one even knew? Well I did. So ha!

Old-Fashioned Banana Cake, adapted from Ina Garten:


  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed (that means it should come out of the cup without having to bang it like crazy)
  • 1 stick Earth Balance shortening
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 inch round cake pan (with 2-inch high sides)

2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, Mix the bananas and sugars until well combined.

3. Add the shortening and cream with the sugar and banana mixtures.

4. With the mixer on low, add the oil, eggs, vanilla, and orange zest. Mix until smooth.

5. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until just combined.

6. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.

7. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake an and bake for 45-50 minutes (mine actually took 55 minutes – stupid oven temperature!) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cook completely.