Welcome to the wonderful world of Fresh Banana Frosting! This homemade vintage frosting is made with a fresh banana, buttercream and touches of cream cheese and lemon. The old-fashioned banana cake is filled with frosting and, you guessed it, a spread of fresh bananas slices. I’m not sure you could get any more vintage charm from a cake than with this combo of cake, fruit and frosting.
One of our Facebook guests suggested Banana Buttercream Frosting (thank you to pro baker, Joanna Caujolle-Hall!) to spread on our Banana Layer Cake and I think that was the best idea for this little charmer of a cake! Talk about doubling (or tripling) up the fresh flavors — with bananas in the cake, bananas in the frosting and bananas between the layers! whoa!
We’re using the 1940 “Banana Frosting” recipe in “The Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedia of Cooking and Homemaking” via Pamphlet #3 edited by Frances Troy Northcross.
Even back in 1897, when this article appeared in “Food, Home and Gardens” (Vols 1-3, p 173), reciting a discussion in Scientific American, the world knew that bananas were comin’ on strong and here to stay. I just know I LUV EM and I think they might be one of nature’s most amazing and perfect fruits.
Get a Feel for the Banana Ripeness Factor! We’re using one spotted ripe banana for this little frosting project so, if your banana is not ripe, maybe you could try putting it out in the sunny garden for a bit or putting it in a bag with a little slice of apple to try to ripen it. We’re also using a few “regular” bananas for the center filling. So check out your bananas and get them spot on (get it?) if you can…or what the heck, just go with what you have. haha!
Vintage Recipe Modification Alert! We changed it up just slightly to add a tad more lemon juice and some cream cheese to tone down the sweet factor. Okay, we also kicked in a little fine quality vanilla extract to mellow it out. Otherwise, this frosting remains simple and classic and forms the basic outline for a gazillion fresh frosting recipes even in modern cookbooks. Although my personal taste could go with even less sugar, all the tasters agreed that it is perfect at this sweetness stage so let’s go with the recommendations and let ‘er rip!
Large Mixing Bowl
Small bowl or cup (for lemon juice)
Measuring cups and spoons
Optional: Juicer (for lemon juice, substitute muscle power)
Optional: Small Strainer (for lemon juice)
Fresh Banana Frosting Ingredients:
1/2 cup Mashed Bananas from about 1 large ripe banana
16 ounces (1 pound, about 3-3/4 cups, usually 1 box) Powdered Sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 cube) Unsalted Butter
4 ounces (1/2 cup, usually half of large foil package) Cream Cheese
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract, fine quality
2 or 3 large bananas (not overly ripe, for slicing between the layers)
Mash a large banana well with a fork, remembering that every little chunk of fruit will show in the final frosting but hoping for some tiny bits to prove it up as the real deal. haha!
If the banana was ripe there should be some little black flecks in the puree.
Microwave for a few seconds to take the chill off but not melting (think spreadable):
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 cube)
Measure into a large mixing bowl:
1 pound (16 ounces, usually 1 box) powdered sugar
The lazy way to sift powdered sugar is by beating it for a few seconds in the mixer. ha! So, unless you want to be sifting this powdered sugar, give it a 30-second whir with the electric mixer.
Add the room temp butter and banana puree to the powdered sugar in the mixing bowl.
Dribble into the mixing bowl:
1 teaspoon fine quality vanilla extract
Microwave for a few seconds to take the chill off, chunk it up and add to the mixing bowl of ingredients:
4 ounces (half of a large foil packet) of cream cheese
Add into the mixing bowl a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice:
Beat all ingredients for about 3 minutes until nice and fluffy…
Now taste it to be sure you have the consistency and flavor that you like. If it is too sweet for you, you could add a little more cream cheese. I don’t think it will need more sweetening, but since the original recipe does not have the lemon and cream cheese, you could add in some more powdered sugar to taste (that you should sift into the bowl with a little strainer to be sure it doesn’t cause lumping).
Here is the spreading consistency in a close-up of the frosting….
Let’s Fill and Frost This Baby!
Make sure the banana cake is cool and the bottom layer cake is level before frosting.
Cut away any hump on the bottom layer by slicing it away (and saving it for morning coffee snacks, yum-o!). I like leaving the top cake with a little gentle mound (but you can cut that away too if you want a perfectly flat topped cake.
Spread a layer of banana frosting on the bottom layer about 1/4 inch thick.
Now we’re using a few fresh bananas that are not overly ripe for the center filling (and maybe some on the top if you like that idea).
Slice about 2 or 3 fresh bananas and push them very gently into the frosting that you’ve spread on the bottom layer of the cake.
If you are doing a “bare sides cake” without frosting the entire cake, spread a thin layer of frosting over the BOTTOM of the top layer and set it on top of the banana slices layer. Frosting to frosting, as they say. This will ensure that the two cakes stay together when you’re serving, otherwise, they might separate on the plate.
If you frost the whole outer cake, you might want to leave this under-frosting step out in order to have enough frosting to cover the outer cake sides (and to prevent frosting overload) — so if you skip this double frosting step just push the banana slices a little deeper into the frosting for a nice “tuck”.
Gently push down on the top cake to be sure the banana slices become enveloped in yummy fresh frosting. Go ahead! Let them droop out over the sides a bit for an extra yum factor!
Spread the top of the cake with frosting. I like to see a little cake and I think it looks a tad more charming in an old-fashioned way with the sides “open for viewing”. haha!
You could even add some more banana slices to the top or a few at just top center for a little more cuteness. Because top-side bananas might turn brownish on you, you should only add top banana slices if you are going to serve the cake immediately (or you could try adding a few drops of fresh lemon juice mixed with a little powdered sugar to help keep any top slices of banana from going brown). If you have any other tips for keeping banana slices from going brown, please let us know in the Comments Section. Thanks!
Just oogling a close-up of the frosting as the cake is sliced for family and guests…
I hope you’ll find this vintage cake deliciously moist and vibrant and a total throw-back to the early part of the American baking scene that keeps on giving — right up to modern day table time!
Thank you so much for joining me with our little DIY frosting party.
I hope you’ll bake and frost one of your own vintage banana layer cakes and let me know how it goes. If you snap photos, show us your work on our Facebook page.
Also, hoping you’ll follow us on Pinterest ! It’s so inspiring to see all your cool photos and tips!
Related articles you may enjoy:
- Betty’s Banana Layer Cake Recipe – A Vintage Cake Loaded with Charm (bakethiscake.com)
- Vintage Harlequin Cake with Heirloom Strawberry Frosting (bakethiscake.com)
- Grandma Matsen’s Sexy Cinnamon Rolls (bakethiscake.com)
- Quick & Magical Chocolate Crazy Cake (bakethiscake.com)
- Mrs. Lincoln’s Almond Vanilla Pound Cake (bakethiscake.com)