This is a quick post in response to all the requests for the recipe in the Coffee Laughs & Giggles Facebook group I belong to. I posted “Husbands” birthday cake last night and within minutes I had recipe requests. I’ve never had so many recipe requests!
I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does! It originated with Grandma, who probably had a banana getting ripe and some extra coffee in the bottom of the pot. It’s been a family favorite for decades! I’ve switched it up some to really amp up the coffee and banana flavors! I love it so much that I’ve turned the coffee/banana flavor combo into these scones. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been a coffee connoisseur since I was a child as mentioned here!
Jump to Recipe
Grandma’s ‘Espresso Buttercream Banana Cake
- 1 large mixing bowl
- Standing mixer preferred, but hand mixer is fine
- A rubber spatula, measuring spoons and cups
- 2 8" round cake pans
- Cake strips (optional, but I find they make the cakes bake more evenly and more level)
- Parchment paper (optional, but will help release the cakes from the pans easily)
- 2 Cooling racks
- Large offset spatula preferred, but I've used the flat side of a large chef knife before.
- Knife to slice bananas
- Long serrated knife to make the cake tops completely even/flat.
- Lazy Susan or cake turntable, not necessary but it can make frosting easier.
- Cake plate or stand
- 1 box Pillsbury yellow cake mix Any boxed mix is fine, or you can use your favorite yellow cake recipe. I've even used French vanilla cake mix.
- ½ banana Medium – Large ripe, but firm, not overly ripened.
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 eggs
- ¾ cup milk Substitute with half & half, yogurt, buttermilk, etc.
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil You could substitute with melted cooled coconut oil.
- 2 tbsp red palm oil Optional, *substitute with vegetable oil. The red palm oil will enhance the yellow color of the cake, however it is not necessary! You could a a couple drops of yellow food coloring if you want it more yellow.
- 1½ sticks salted butter *Room temperature.
- 4 cups powdered sugar One pound bag plus ½ cup.
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1½ tbsp espresso powder Add more or less if you want a stronger or weaker coffee flavor. Substitute with instant coffee powder. You can also substitute with very strong (cold) coffee and reduce the amount of cream. I prefer Medaglia D'Oro Instant Espresso.
- 3 tbsp half & half Cream or milk. Maybe a few additional teaspoons if needed.
- 1½ bananas Medium – Large, firm but ripe.
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Soak the cake strips if you are using them, for ten minutes in cold water.
- Cut two 8" circles of parchment to fit the bottoms of the cake pans.
- Place the parchment circles in the bottoms of the pans and spray the sides and parchment with a light coating of oil. (or grease and flour the pans)
- Wrap the soaked cake strips around the pans and fasten in place.
- Mash a half a banana in the large mixing bowl, add 1 tsp vanilla and mix until smooth.
- Add three eggs and mix enough to break up the eggs.
- Add the yellow cake mix, all of the oil and mix until the lumps are gone, about a minute on medium.
- Pour the cake mixture evenly into both cake pans.
- Bake in a 350° oven for approximately 30-40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Follow the baking directions on the cake mix box. The cake strips may add a few additional minutes to the baking time. Cakes are done when they are lightly browned on top and spring back when lightly tapped. A toothpick should come out clean.
- Allow cakes to cool in the pans for fifteen minutes, before removing from pans to cooling racks. While waiting for the cakes to cool, prepare the espresso or coffee so that it has time to cool completely.
Prepare the Coffee Buttercream
- Warm the cream just enough to dissolve the espresso powder. Set the mixture aside to cool. It should be very strong! Or brew a little very strong coffee, try for at least twice as strong as directed. Allow it to cool completely.
- Cream the butter for at least three minutes on medium or until fluffy.
- Add half of the powdered sugar and mix on low until stirred in, then whip on medium for a minute.
- Add vanilla and remaining powdered sugar. Mix on low until stirred in then whip on medium for a minute.
- Mix in about half of the espresso cream and whip on medium for a minute. Scrape the bowl down and mix again on medium.
- Taste and add more of the espresso cream, or plain cream depending on your preference. Continue whipping on medium speed and adding the espresso cream until its smooth and fluffy, Whip on medium for several minutes.
Assemble the Banana Filled Cake
- Decide if you want a flat top on your cake, or slightly rounded. If you want it flat, use a serrated knife to trim off any cake that may have mounded on top. Set aside the cake you want to use for the top.
- You want a very flat bottom layer to lay the bananas on. If the bottom layer is not completely flat on it's top and bottom, the bananas will slip out of the cake! Trim it so that the top is completely flat.
- Place your bottom layer cake, trimmed side down on the cake plate or stand. If it's not completely flat, trim it some more!
- Add about ⅓ of the frosting and smooth it over the top to make the filling. Allow it to be a bit thick around the edges. Any excess can be spread around the sides. For easy frosting, use a lazy Susan like this, turning it while you use the offset spatula to spread the frosting evenly. (My layer was a little skimpy on the buttercream, and my layers weren't flat. There was some slippage!) This photo is a day old cake slice.
- Peel and slice the bananas into ½ centimeter to no thicker than ¾ cm rounds. Arrange the slices on top of the buttercream leaving about ½ inch around the perimeter – more than pictured. Mine were too close to the edge. If they are too close to the edge they will slide out of the side of the cake. Can you tell I was in a hurry? Mine is a bit messy!
- Gently lay the flat bottom of the top layer onto the banana layer.
- Add about ⅔ of the remaining frosting to the top, and smooth it into an even layer, allowing the excess to run down the sides. Smooth the sides with the offset spatula.
- Add the remaining frosting to the sides of the cake, using the offset spatula to smooth it out.
- No decoration is really needed for this light coffee colored cake, but I used Ghiradelli white chocolate dipped raspberries, but strawberries, or a light dusting of cocoa powder or espresso powder would be nice too.
I hope you try this cake, and even experiment with the flavors! I’ve used French vanilla cake mix, butter cake mix, used leftover coffee and tried adding more banana to the cake mixture. I’d love to hear what you do to the recipe, or photos of your cakes!