Copycat Ina Garten’s Banana Cake Recipe

by Chef Adel
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Ina Garten's Banana Cake Recipe

There’s something undeniably comforting and homey about the scent of banana cake baking in the oven. It brings to mind cozy afternoons, steaming cups of tea, and the simple joy of sharing a homemade treat with loved ones. In my quest for the perfect banana cake, I stumbled upon Ina Garten’s Banana Cake recipe, and let me tell you, it was a game-changer.

Ina Garten, also lovingly known as the Barefoot Contessa, has a knack for creating recipes that are both simple and utterly divine, and her banana cake is no exception. I was initially drawn to this recipe because of Ina’s reputation for foolproof results and the promise of a moist, flavorful cake that could easily become a household favorite.

From the first glimpse of the golden-brown crust to the last crumbly bite, this banana cake recipe is a celebration of textures and flavors that dance together in perfect harmony. What sets it apart from other banana cakes is Ina’s thoughtful approach to ingredients and methods, ensuring that each bite is a blend of comforting banana flavor, a whisper of warmth from the cinnamon, and the sweet, velvety embrace of the frosting.

How to make Ina Garten’s Banana Cake

Ina Garten’s Banana Cake is a moist and flavorful dessert that combines ripe bananas with a simple cake batter.

Ingredients:

For the Banana Cake:

  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 6 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Optional for garnish:

  • Additional banana slices

Instructions:

  1. Preheat Oven and Prepare Pan: Begin by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 9 x 2-inch round cake pan. This helps prevent the cake from sticking.
  2. Mix Wet Ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined. Add the vegetable oil, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract and stir until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Combine Dry Ingredients: In a separate bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, and kosher salt. Gently blend the dry ingredients into the banana mixture and stir just until combined – overmixing can lead to a denser cake. If you’re using walnuts, fold them in at this stage.
  4. Bake: Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The top should be golden brown, and the cake itself should spring back slightly when touched.
  5. Cool: Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Then, turn it out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  6. Make the Frosting: While the cake is cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Using an electric mixer on high speed, blend the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  7. Frost the Cake: Once the cake is completely cool, spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake. If desired, garnish with additional chopped walnuts or banana slices right before serving.

Tips:

  • Ensure all your refrigerated ingredients come to room temperature before starting. This guarantees a smoother batter and even baking.
  • Mash the bananas with a fork or use a mixer for smoother consistency. However, some prefer small banana lumps for texture.
  • Do not overbake the cake. Start checking for doneness at around 40 minutes to prevent a dry texture.
  • If you’re not a fan of walnuts, consider substituting with pecans or simply omit the nuts altogether for a nut-free option.
  • For the ideal frosting consistency, sift the complement.

What to serve with

Ina Garten’s banana cake is a delightful treat, but pairing it with the right accompaniments can elevate your dessert experience. Whether you’re serving this cake at a casual family gathering or a more formal event, here are some delightful suggestions on what to serve with

1. Coffee and Tea

  • Coffee: A freshly brewed cup of coffee is a classic pairing with any cake, particularly with the banana cake, as the coffee’s slight bitterness complements the sweetness of the frosting. Opt for a light or medium roast with mild acidity to balance the sweetness.
  • Tea: For tea enthusiasts, consider a black tea with hints of caramel or vanilla to mirror the cake’s flavors, or a herbal tea like chamomile or mint for a refreshing contrast.

2. Ice Cream

  • Vanilla Ice Cream: A scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside or on top of a warm slice of Ina Garten’s banana cake makes for an indulgent dessert. The creaminess of the ice cream complements the moist texture of the cake.
  • Caramel Ice Cream: If you want to add complexity, caramel ice cream is a great choice, as it introduces a new flavor that still works well with both the banana and the spices within the cake.

3. Fresh Fruits and Berries

  • Sliced Bananas and Berries: Fresh fruits can lighten the overall dessert. Consider a mixture of berries – strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries – for their tartness and vibrant color contrast, or simply fresh banana slices to reinforce the banana flavor.
  • Seasonal Fruits: Depending on the season, a side of sliced peaches, plums, or cherries can add a refreshing and slightly tangy note that cuts through the sweetness.

4. Nut Selection

  • Toasted Walnuts or Pecan: If you decided against adding them to the cake itself, offering them on the side can give guests the option to sprinkle nuts on their serving for added texture and flavor dynamics.

5. Whipped Cream

  • A dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream can serve as a lighter alternative to cream cheese frosting. It pairs well without overpowering the inherent flavors of the cake.

6. Dessert Wines

  • Port or Sherry: A sweet dessert wine like Port or a Sherry can contrast beautifully with the spices in the Ina Garten’s banana cake. These wines have rich flavors that stand up well against the dense, moist texture of the banana cake.

7. Dessert Sauces

  • Caramel Sauce: Drizzling caramel sauce over the banana cake before serving can add a delightful sweetness and a smooth texture that enriches the overall dessert.
  • Chocolate Ganache: Consider a warm chocolate ganache if you’re a chocolate lover. Chocolate and banana are a match made in heaven, and this combination would surely be a hit.

8. Cheese Pairing

  • Creamy Cheeses: A soft, creamy cheese like Mascarpone or a mild Brie can be an unexpected but delicious complement to Ina Garten’s banana cake, especially if served slightly warm.

Ingredients Substitutes

Banana Cake
Banana Cake

If you’re making Ina Garten’s banana cake and find yourself short on certain ingredients or need substitutes for dietary restrictions, here are some detailed alternatives you can consider:

Bananas

  • Apple Sauce or Pumpkin Puree: If you’re out of bananas, you can substitute equal amounts of apple sauce or pumpkin puree for a different but still moist cake.
  • Avocado: You can also use pureed avocado as a one-to-one substitute to give a similar texture while adding healthy fats.

Granulated Sugar and Light Brown Sugar

  • Honey or Maple Syrup: You can substitute granulated sugar with honey or maple syrup using a 3/4 ratio. So instead of 1 cup of sugar, you’d use 3/4 cup of honey or maple syrup.
  • Coconut sugar can replace granulated and brown sugar in a 1:1 ratio, but remember that it may affect the cake color and add a slight coconut flavor.

Vegetable Oil

  • Butter or Margarine: If you prefer butter for its flavor, use the same amount of melted butter as the recipe calls for oil.
  • Apple Sauce: For a lower fat alternative, apple sauce can substitute oil in a 1:1 ratio, though this may change the texture slightly, making it denser.

Eggs

  • Flax Seeds or Chia Seeds: For a vegan option, mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds or chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Let it sit for a few minutes until it becomes gelatinous, which equals one egg.
  • Applesauce or Mashed Banana: A quarter cup of applesauce or mashed banana can replace one egg but may make your cake denser.

Sour Cream

  • Greek Yogurt: You can substitute equal amounts of Greek yogurt for sour cream. It has a similar tang and creaminess.
  • Buttermilk can also be exchanged evenly for sour cream; however, it’s more liquid, which may affect the batter’s consistency.

All-Purpose Flour

  • Whole Wheat Flour: For a healthier option, use whole wheat flour, though this will make the cake denser. You can use half whole wheat and half all-purpose to mitigate this.
  • Gluten-Free Flour Blend: Use a gluten-free flour blend in a 1:1 ratio if you need the cake to be gluten-free.

Baking Soda

  • Baking Powder: If you’re out of baking soda, replace it with triple the amount of baking powder. Baking powder has baking soda in it, but it’s weaker, thus increasing the quantity.

Cream Cheese (For Frosting)

  • Mascarpone Cheese: Substitute equal amounts of mascarpone cheese to achieve a similar but slightly sweeter flavor.
  • Silken Tofu: For a vegan alternative, use blended silken tofu with lemon juice and a sweetener to taste to mimic the cream cheese frosting.

Butter (For Frosting)

  • Margarine or Vegan Butter: To substitute for butter, use margarine or plant-based butter in the same quantity. This is especially helpful if you want a dairy-free or vegan cake.

Confectioners’ Sugar (For Frosting)

  • DIY Confectioners’ Sugar: Use a blender or food processor to grind granulated sugar into a fine powder, and you’ll have homemade confectioners’ sugar. For each cup of confectioners’ sugar needed, use one cup of granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.

Final Thoughts

Remember, the most delicious part of baking is the love and attention you bring to the process. Enjoy the journey, and soon you’ll be indulging in a slice (or two!) of Ina Garten’s banana cake.

More Cake Recipes:

Ina Garten's Banana Cake Recipe

Ina Garten's Banana Cake

Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 472 calories 17 grams fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )

Ingredients

For the Banana Cake:

  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 6 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Optional for garnish:

  • Additional banana slices

Instructions

  1. Preheat Oven and Prepare Pan: Begin by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 9 x 2-inch round cake pan. This helps prevent the cake from sticking.
  2. Mix Wet Ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined. Add the vegetable oil, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract and stir until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Combine Dry Ingredients: In a separate bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, and kosher salt. Gently blend the dry ingredients into the banana mixture and stir just until combined – overmixing can lead to a denser cake. If you're using walnuts, fold them in at this stage.
  4. Bake: Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The top should be golden brown, and the cake itself should spring back slightly when touched.
  5. Cool: Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Then, turn it out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  6. Make the Frosting: While the cake is cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Using an electric mixer on high speed, blend the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  7. Frost the Cake: Once the cake is completely cool, spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake. If desired, garnish with additional chopped walnuts or banana slices right before serving.

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