Betty’s Banana Layer Cake Recipe – A Vintage Cake Loaded with Charm

Banana Layer Cake recipe on black plate with cake in BG BakeThisCake

This is the real deal retro-style. A classic banana layer cake from the 1940’s made in that simple old-fashioned style like Grandma used to bake. If you’re a vintage cake junkie, THIS is the one for you! Or…If you’re just a dabbler in the vintage arts and want a moist and vibrant cake loaded with charm, break out that Hobart mixer and some ripe nanners cause this one’s gonna scratch it right outta the park!

Banana Cake Recipe looking down BakeThisCake

We served our little gem at Sunday supper with a Fresh Banana Buttercream Frosting that is sligtly oozing, just the way we like it, with a layer of sliced bananas tucked between the layers.

Banana Layer Cake with fork2  on black plate Bake This Cake

This Cake is Dedicated to Betty!ย I have a special family friend and her name is Betty. ๐Ÿ™‚ I haven’t seen her in some time but I think of her a lot. Her daughter, Julie, and I grew up together in our hometown of Mercedย Betty current photoand later in the San Francisco Bay Area through our college years. Because my mom was a way-working mom, I spent a lot of time at Betty’s home. She became my “other mom” role model and she taught me so many wonderful things about being a mom and keeping a home. She taught me how a stay-at-home mom cares for her family on the home-front (packing lunches, decorating, shopping, chore-ing) and about the special art of home crafts. She had been a professional seamstress so she stitched us up matching sundresses, took us “junking” to junk shops to buy chairs to recover or old trunks to refinish, taught us crafts projects, helped us transform the garage into an amazing kid space and cooked amazing meals for family sit-downs. She painted and papered and hammered her home into charming perfection and re-purposed everything from old and scrappy to fine and lovely. Even though I am now a busy working mom with 3 kids, I always think back to how Betty might enhance her home and how she might fill it up with love. So I’m dedicating this charming vintage cake with LOVE to Betty. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s a photo of Betty in her “salad days” when she was a professional seamstress. Doesn’t she look glamorous?

Betty younger days as seamstress

Vintage Recipe! This cake comes to us via a special vintage cookbook called an Encyclopedia with a hard spine. It’s a giant and stately looking book. Whoa!

Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedia of Cooking BakeThisCake

Book Secret! But the book has a secret! It’s not really a book. haha! It’s actually just a binder with 20 recipe pamphlets by various editors in collaboration with the Culinary Arts Institute all published in 1940 and all nicely attached inside with a neat little metal spine stirrup.This is the paper side of the “encycopedia”…

Culinary Arts Vintage Pamplet Cook Books BakeThisCake

The subject pamphlets within the “The Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedia of Cooking and Homemaking” are plentiful…like: “500 Favorite Salads”, “250 Ways to Prepare Poultry and Game Birds” and “The Cookie Book” etc., emphasis on et cetera.

Check out Pamplet #3! Course, we always gravitate to the dessert section of a vintage cook book so we moved immediately to “Pamphlet #3”. It’s titled “250 Classic Cake Recipes” edited by Ruth Berozheimer, Home Counselor of the Washington Times-Herald, creator of “Radio Recipes” and editor of the 1938 “American Womans Cookbook”. This cake is listed under the category, ” Cakes With Fruit”.

Recipe note: We didn’t modify much of the original recipe. We substituted unsalted butter for shortening and upped the vanilla count, but otherwise, it’s pretty much “as is”. ๐Ÿ™‚ The way we assembled this cake with slices of bananas in the center between layers of frosting should not be confused with a “Gold Nugget Cake” (which usually has no bananas in the batter and just slices of banana in the center filling. This cake (and the frosting) is loaded with fresh bananas!

Tools Needed for Banana Layer Cake:
Cooking spray or butter (for prepping pans)
2 Cake Pans 9″ diameter
2 Large mixing bowls (for dry ingredients and batter)
3 Small bowls or cups (for warming eggs and butter to room temp and for fork-mixing eggs)
1 Dinner plate (for mashing bananas)
1 Potato masher or fork (or other tool for mashing bananas)
1 Medium Bowl (for mixing mashed bananas with sour milk)
Electric Mixer
Whisk (or fork for blending dry ingredients)
Wooden Spoon and/or Spatula
Measuring cups and spoons

Banana Layer Cake #recipe with Vintage Ceiling Light BakeThisCake

Ingredients for Banana Layer Cake:
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 large spotted bananas)
2-1/2 cups cake flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, fine quality
1/4 cup of buttermilk (or 1/4 cup milk with 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar)

Okay! Let’s rock and roll !! We’re going to break it down for ya into a dozen easy steps.

Banana Layer Cake Cutaway Recipe Bake This Cake

1. Prep The Eggs:

As a prep step, let’s bring to room temperature in a cup of warm water:
2 large eggs (in their shells)

Eggs in Warm Water Tip for Room Temp Eggs Bake This Cake

2. Prep The Oven:

Place an oven rack in center position and pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

3. Prep The Pans:

Prepare two 9″ cake pans by buttering them and lining the bottoms with parchment.

Tip: Press 2 squares of parchment into the bottom of one of the cake pans, making a finger indent at the edges of the pan, then cut the circles from that template. ๐Ÿ™‚ EEZY PEEZY!

Parchment Pan Press Tip BakeThisCake

Butter the tops of the parchment (just for luck, although I don’t think it’s necessary). ๐Ÿ™‚

Parchment Cut to Pan Size BakeThisCake

4. Prep The Bananas:

Get your hands on 3 (or maybe 4) large ripe bananas. The fruit should be ripe and spotted but not pure black (black is better for banana bread).
Tip: We want some speckles to show through in the cake but we don’t want a dark brown cake. ๐Ÿ™‚
Double Tip: You can make this cake with regular unripe bananas, although the bananas will have to be mashed well and I would add a tablespoon of honey, noting that the cake will have a slightly different texture and the color will be a little different.
Triple Tip: To get bananas to ripen more quickly, place them in a paper bag with some apple slices (and maybe even set them in the warm sun for a bit).

This is what the bananas for this cake should look like…

Ripe Bananas recipe for Banana Layer Cake Bake This Cake

Grab your favorite nanner masher and mash 3 or 4 large bananas to produce:
1 cup hand-mashed banana puree
Tip: I like the potato masher, although a fork will do just fine — and some of our friends think a ricer is best while others even use their hands for this process. haha!

Banana Mashing Tool Potato BakeThisCake

Mash the bananas so that there are no large white clumps of fruit (but not a purely smooth puree).
Tip: Whatever fruit shows in the mashed lumps will show in the cake for the most part (so we want some tiny fruit morsels in the cake but not large white lumps of the fruit). ๐Ÿ™‚

Mashed Ripe Bananas for Banana Cake Bake This Cake

5. Prep The Dry Ingredients:

Measure out into a large bowl all the dry ingredients:
2-1/2 cups cake flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Dry Ingredients for Banana Layer Cake Recipe Bake This Cake

Whisk all ingredients until thorough blended. (You could sift everything but I’m lazy bout that.)

Whisked Dry Ingredients Banana Cake Recipe Bake This Cake

6. Cream The Butter And Sugar:

Microwave for a few seconds until room temperature:
1/2 cup (1 cube or stick) unsalted butter

In a large bowl (or the stand mixer bowl), measure out:
1 cup sugar
the prepared room temp butter

Room Temperature Butter and Sugar for Banana Cake Recipe Bake This Cake

Using the mixer, beat the sugar and butter on high for about 3 minutes until light and creamy.
Tip: There will be some granules still showing that will soon disappear. ๐Ÿ™‚

Creamed Butter and Sugar Banana Cake BakeThisCake

7. Adding the Eggs into the Sugar-Butter Mixture:

Fork beat in a small bowl or cup and then beat into the creamed sugar-butter mixture on high:
2 large eggs
Tip: The original recipe calls for the eggs to be cracked and beat one at a time (and you can do that too, no biggie). We just think it gets a little fluffier when you pre-mix the eggs before adding them to the batter.

See how creamy and smooth the batter has become? Nice!

Eggs Beaten into Banana Cake Batter Recipe Bake This Cake

8. Adding The Vanilla:

Beat into the batter on medium speed until fully incorporated (about 30 seconds):
2 teaspoon vanilla extract, fine quality
Tip: You can use the original solo teaspoon of vanilla, but we doubled it for extra goodness.

Beating Vanilla into Banana Cake Batter BakeThisCake

The batter now has a little golden gloss to it…

Batter before Bananas Banana Cake Recipe BakeThisCake

9. Sour Milk Or Buttermilk:

Let’s make some “sour milk” old-school-style (or just use 1/4 cup of buttermilk, or you may even use dry cultured buttermilk mixed with warm water according to the dry buttermilk directions):

Making Sour Milk:

In a small bowl or cup, mix together and let sit on the counter for 5 minutes:
1/4 cup milk (we used 2%)
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

Milk with White Vinegar for Soured Milk BakeThisCake

10. Mixing Bananas With Sour Milk:

Place the prepared mashed bananas in a bowl and, using a fork, stir in the sour milk (or buttermilk) until thoroughly blended.
Tip: We’re following the original recipe that calls for mixing the mashed bananas with the sour milk although there are lots of other banana cake baking techniques that skip this segregated sour milk and banana step — but since the cake turned out great, we’re keeping this step in place just as written.

Mixing Soured Milk with Mashed Bananas BakeThisCake

11. Adding Mashed Bananas & Flour Mixture to Batter:

Add the banana-sour milk (or buttermilk) mixture and the prepared flour mixture in partial batches to the batter and blend with the electric blender on low-speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds.

Mixing bananas with batter Banana Cake recipe BakeThisCake

The final batter will be a little golden color and be mostly smooth with tiny little chunks of fruit.

Finished Batter Banana Layer Cake Recipe BakeThisCake

12. Batter Up The Pans, Bake & Cool:

Divide the batter evenly between the pans and smooth the top of the batter with a spatula if needed.

Batter in Cake Pans BakeThisCake

Bake the banana cakes at 375 degrees for approximately 30 minutes until the tops are golden brown, the center springs back slightly when touched and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake returns clean.
Tip: Always check the cake 5 or 10 minutes before the buzzer sounds to make sure things are running smoothly and the cake is rising nicely and isn’t getting overly browned.

Baking Time Tip: One of our readers (thank you, Robin!) reports that her fresh banana cake took only 20 minutes to bake so be sure to check your cake early to see how your cake is coming along.

Cool the cakes for 10 minutes in the pans before removing and then continue cooling for an additional 30 minutes to an hour before frosting.

Cakes Cooling Banana Cake BakeThisCake

Cut off any mound on the top of the bottom layer.
Tip: We left the top layer of cake in its natural slightly mounded state to give it that old-fashioned homemade look but you can go either way with a perfectly flat top for both cake layers or not.

Traveling With Cake! This cake travels well covered with plastic wrap in the original pans and should be frosted on site if you’re going to be giving it as a potluck cake for using it for a celebration cake away from home (or for Sunday Supper Cake at Mom’s). This cake is best served the day it is baked or within 2 days max, storing it wrapped on the counter. I’m not sure how it does for freezing so let us know in the comments section if you freeze and defrost your banana cake for a party and we’ll follow your lead. ๐Ÿ™‚

Banana Layer Cake Ready to Travel BakeThisCake

Some folks like this cake filled with whipped cream and bananas and frosted all over with whipped cream.
Tip: If you go the whipped cream route, frost and fill the cake just before serving it for best results since the whipped cream is delicate and may not hold storage well.

In our next post, we will be prepping for you the step-by-step recipe for a loverly Fresh Banana Buttercream Frosting recipe (that has been kicked down a notch for sweetness with some fresh lemon juice and a little cream cheese). ๐Ÿ™‚

We’ll also run you through the process of filling this cake with the “golden nuggets” of banana slices.

Spreading Frosting on Banana Layer Cake Recipe BakeThisCake

Join us for this special Fresh Banana Buttercream Frosting recipe next up…

Banana Slices  in center of Banana Layer Cake BakeThisCake

Vintage cake testing time!

Banana Layer Cake Close Up2 Slice BakeThisCake

Thank you for stopping in to Bake This Cake! for this little trip down history lane!

I hope you’re able to join us on Facebook to see photographs of the vintage cakes in the triple-testing process. ๐Ÿ™‚

Check out our Pinterest site (those “pins” are so inspiring and fun)!

Happy vintage cake baking to you!

Leslie Macchiarella photo by Julie Macchiarella


Leslie and Julie with our newborns

Leslie and Julie, Betty’s daughter, with our newborns

Sunday Supper at Mom's BakeThisCake

Sunday Supper at Mom’s

91 thoughts on “Betty’s Banana Layer Cake Recipe – A Vintage Cake Loaded with Charm

  1. I made this cake for my daughter’s birthday. I did change something’s. I used 4 bananas, I used half n half instead of milk. I used 2 boxes of banana cream pudding with half and half for the frosting in the middle and top plus sliced bananas. I used 4 cups of whipping cream with powdered sugar and vanilla. I made the cake and the next day I put it together. I used wooden grill sticks to keep the cake from falling apart. It turned out really good. I also used a cup of chopped walnuts and a cup of small semisweet chocolate chips in the cake.

  2. OMG, I love how detailed your instructions are, and the pictures are perfect. Iโ€™m always intimidated by made-from-scratch cakes but I can definitely follow this recipe. Thank you!

    • Lorena, Thank you so kindly for your comments on our homemade fresh banana layer cake recipe. I’m so glad you like the step-by-step recipe. I often receive comments that my recipes are long-winded (and they are!) but I write it out very carefully so that someone (like me) can follow it in perfect order without having to refer back and back again to something earlier in the recipe. I also think of how to explain it to my adult kids who bake from time to time. Happy vintage baking to you and I hope you are able to check out the fresh banana frosting recipe as well. Best, Leslie

  3. This is the exact cake my Mom thought me to make.
    It was a family birthday tradition.
    I’m carrying on the tradition and sending it out on special family occasions. I leave it in the baking pans, freeze it, and mail. My family adds whipped cream and banana slices. We also like chopped walnut on top.
    Tradition are wonderful!

  4. Love love love this recipe! I have only made this as a 9×13 cake so far and froze a few pieces. The frozen pieces were fresh as the day I made it! Thanks for sharing this. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  5. This recipe has been in my family for years! My dad was born in the 30s and this is the only cake my grandma ever made for his birthdays, after she passed in the 80’s I took over the recipe. Until now I was never able to find one just like it printed! It is a wonderful classic!

      • Great! Thanks for fast response. My mom is turning 72 and she was telling me about when she was little her mother’s banana cake was her favorite so I am going to try and make this today for her birthday. I’m thinking I will top cupcakes with banana slices and a whip cream frosting. Will let you know how they turn out!

    • Hi Barbie, So glad you got to bake this banana layer cake. My grandma always said (and this is what I do) — If you want to double it, just duplicate it instead. So I make 2 of the same recipe side by side (or 1 after another, since sometimes a doubled recipe, like 4 cake pans in 1 oven is a squeeze or can cause baking quirks). Happy vintage cake baking! Leslie

  6. Hello so for the past week I have tried to find the time to make this cake and today I finally am able to I followed the recipe to a tee and my ending batter was kind of thick is that the way the batter is or did I do something wrong

    • Hi Ciria! The ending batter seems to me like a thick milkshake with little banana bits. Did the stages of photos look similar to your batter steps? Let us know how it goes. Fingers crossed! Best, Leslie.

  7. Thank you very much for sharing this recipe. These seems to be a lot like the one my grandma made. I’ll be making yours in hopes its like hers. I grew up in Modesto. So I know right where Merced is. Now I live in Baltimore. Long way away from home.

  8. I found you on pinterest. Never knew you existed! I love these kinds of recipes. I dont have 9″ round baking pans so can a 9 x 13 pan work? What about 15 x 10 baking sheet? Thank you very much. I will be visiting more often.

    • Hi Lisa! Yes, most every cake can be made in different shapes and sizes using different baking pans or cupcake pans and I’m sure this one is no exception. I have to admit, though, I have never made this cake using a different pan. I should try it for a double recipe for a big crowd filling the pan 2/3 full with batter. Perhaps our readers can chime in with their experiences. Happy vintage baking!

  9. Thank’s so much for this receipe. I’m a German was looking for a banana cake receipe. This one is great, the best banana cake ever and it is now one of my favourite cake receipes. Everyone love it! The only thing I changed was I did not add banana in the cream cheese frosting. it tastes much better without that.

    • Hello Karl, Thank you so much for your comment. I’m so glad you took this banana cake receipe for a spin and that you and yours enjoyed it. I think I will even try it with a regular cream cheese frosting. Sounds yum! Best, Leslie

  10. Hi Leslie
    I was wondering if the bananas that is sliced and placed in the middle of the cake stays white or if they starts to turn brown? It usually takes my husband a few days to eat a cake.

    • Hi Laticia, We’ve had discussions on this topic (like tossing the banana slices in lemon juice before placing them) but, honestly, I can’t seem to hold this cake long enough to personally test it. My guess, though, is that if you snug the slices into the frosting and cover them nicely with the underlayer frosting described they should be protected from browning for at a day. But I can’t be sure – until you try it and let us know. ๐Ÿ™‚ Or you might try cutting the cake down the middle before frosting then layering the frosting and fresh slices just before serving. Best regards, Leslie

  11. This looks delicious and so happy to read the wonderful reviews. Is there a printable recipe rather than detailed step by step directions?

  12. Could you please clarify the vinegar milk. In the ingredients list it says 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar but in the instructions it says 1 teaspoon.

    • Hi, Anne, Thank you for your comment! Yes, 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar ‘ll do ya for this cake and we’ve clarified the directions. If for any reason you use a little bit more vinegar (like 1 teaspoon, the cake will still come out fine according to our testers but our final result was best at 1/2 teaspoon). Best, Leslie

  13. Okay for starters this cake is great! I substituted 1/2 cake flour & 1/2 all purpose flour & replaced buttermilk with the sour milk option, but other than that kept the rest the same. We have a large family, and if there is one thing most of them love, it is cake! So I added another 1/2 recipe and turned this into a triple layer cake & mixed in 1 bag of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. I then frosted it with a semi-sweet chocolate frosting that I stumbled on during one of my baking forays (has to be the best chocolate frosting I have ever had). The chocolate and banana was an amazing combination & everyone said I should make those cakes and sell them, it was that good! Even my husband who is not a huge fan of cake loved this cake & that is saying a lot! Thanks for a great recipe!

  14. I loved the cake and followed the recipe step by step, but it wasnt explained when the butter and sugar mixture should be added and I forgot about it until after I had mixed everything else. The cake turned out alittle dry. Also I followed the instructions for the icing but it was so runny I had a hard time frosting the cake. I will definitely know better for next time!

    • Hi Jordan, Thank you for sharing your experience baking this cake. I’m so sorry there was confusion on the timing of the butter-sugar mixture. Although I had stated to “Fork beat in a small bowl or cup and then beat into the creamed sugar-butter mixture on high: 2 large eggs”, I now added some words to the paragraph 7 heading as follows: “Adding the Eggs into the Sugar-Butter Mixture”. I hope that will highlight exactly when the combine the eggs with the sugar-butter mixture. I’m curious if you used buttermilk or made your own sour milk. If your frosting doesn’t turn out as thick as you’d like, you might consider adding a bit more powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until it reaches your favorite thickness. Don’t give up on baking this cake! I know you’re going to love it. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. We all learn when we hear how it goes with our readers. Best, Leslie

  15. My mouth is watering!! It is too hot to do any baking for the next week or so, but come fall, this one’s going to be made!!!

    • Thank you, Shelly! So glad you are interested in this old-fashioned fresh banana cake. It’s so cute to serve, I’d say it’s loaded with charm. Maybe you can post a photo for us on our FB page when you are able to try it out. That would be fun. Best, Leslie

  16. Leslie,

    So, three years after your post, I happened upon your recipe in my Pinterest feed. I don’t bake — ever — but I clicked through because my husband loves banana pudding (and it’s 4AM and I can’t sleep).

    This is, without a doubt, the best recipe blog I’ve ever seen. THANK YOU (times a million) for not assuming your reader has the same level of knowledge as you. I never bake because (1) I didn’t have a “Betty” growing up; and (2) I don’t understand baking terminology.

    Your step-by-step detailed instructions, along with the pictures, have made me want to attempt this cake. I’m in the middle of a move, but as soon as I’m settled, I’m going to do it. I will let you know how it turns out.

    Thanks again for inspiring me to bake. Who knows? Maybe this will be the first of many cakes in my husband’s future…

    • Bonnie, I’m so glad you found me and are inspired by this cake blog. Your comments are inspiring to ME. I’m such a midnight hours person myself that I can relate to your late night wanderings. Good luck with your move and happy future vintage cake baking! Leslie

  17. Thank you for this recipe. It is the first time I make a two-layer cake . It was delicious. Everybody liked it and several people asked me the recipe. I liked how you explained step by step with photo and also how to do things like the buttermilk and how to warm the eggs.

    • Hi, Adriana, So glad you liked the banana cake and big congrats on your first adventure with a 2-layer cake. That’s awesome! I’m super glad you like my tips. I must say I try my hardest to ‘splain the details. Makes for long posts — but what the heck if it works. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Leslie, I just love your dedication to Betty. What an honor that you still reflect upon those days and all that she taught you. The cake looks yummy and I will have to try this very soon. I also want to mention that you do a great job at trying to problem solve issues and are genuinely hoping to help. I am confident this reflects in your professional life too.

  19. This looks amazing! One hint, store ripe bananas in the freezer, When you need some for a recipe, just nuke for one minute, peel and you don’t have to mash!

    • Thanks for the tip, Teena. I agree that freezing overripe bananas is the way to go. And they seem to hold for an incredible amount of time. Although I usually bag them, I’ve even thrown them in the freezer without wrapping to use in a week and they seem fine.ha! Happy vintage baking! Leslie

  20. I wanted to make this for my father’s birthday party, (it’s his favorite and I have been searching for a recipe everywhere) but I was wondering if you had ever made cupcakes using this batter? I imagine the bake time would be shorter? Closer to 20 minutes than 30? Any other suggestions?

  21. I was so excited to make this cake for valentines. Took my first bite and was disappointed. The cake was so dry and lacked flavor. I followed the recipe exactly so not sure where I made a mistake. Maybe I over mixed the wet and dry ingredients??? I do plan to try again. Thanks for sharing.

    • Melissa, Thank you for sharing your cake baking experience. I wonder if we will be able to figure out what went wrong. Overmixing at the final stage might do it (since that stage is the most delicate in most cake preparations and usually could even be folded instead of mixed) but also I’m wondering if the bananas were nice and soft and ripe. We should try to decide how to fix it before you try again to ensure a perfectly heavenly banana layer cake. Best, Leslie

      • Thanks for a quick reply. They were nice and ripe as you had described in the recipe. Thanks for your detailed instructions. I really think the mistake was in the over mixing. Good to know it’s more of a folding action. The cake was so dry, like slicing stale bread. It had no flavor either ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Into the trash it went. Another day I will conquer this recipe.

      • Wow, Melissa, The way you describe it, something big (or maybe more than one big thing) really did go wrong. Next time you try, perhaps you can match up your own cake prep stages with each of the post photos as you work along to be sure all your steps look just like the step photos we’ve posted. I’ll try to do a video of this cake prep in the future to help since so many folks are baking it nowadays. Don’t give up on baking. You can do this thing! ๐Ÿ™‚ Best, Leslie

  22. I made this cake on Super bowl Sunday, it was a big hit and the presentation was beautiful!! Posted a picture on Facebook because I was so proud of it plus I like to share special recipes. This cake reminded me of those cakes in the Pollyanna movie!!! Thank you so much!!

    • Hi, Virginia, What a great dessert to serve for Super Bowl. You must be a very nice person. The way you describe your banana layer cake, it sounds divine. I think I can see Pollyanna eating a slice right now at the County fair. Thank you so much for letting us know how it went for you. Best regads, Leslie

  23. I made this today for my Husband’s birthday. I consider myself a pretty good baker and my batter was very thick. Since I only had all-purpose flour I followed a recipe I found for substituting that for cake flour. I omitted 2 tablespoons per cup and replaced it with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. I then sifted the flour five times. My cake didn’t rise as much as a cake batter should but the little I tasted wasn’t as dense as banana bread. I’m thinking either the cornstarch was a bad idea (even though the recipe swears by it) or I mixed the batter to much. Or both. Hoping it’s not a total flop tonight for dessert.

    • Hi, Lisa, I love that you tried substitutions for Betty’s Banana Layer Cake and thank you for sharing your substitution experience. I do that all the time ’cause we never always have everything on hand and I so hate to run to the store for just one thing. On the cake flour, it’s a wee bit tricky to substitute, although I’ve done the same as you in a pinch. I think that’s because cake flour has a lower protein content than most other flours (so it makes cakes a little lighter and airier) — so it doesn’t quite match up for subbing. Cake flour is considered to have about 7% to 8% protein while all-purpose flour has 10% to 12% protein. Cornstarch has the lowest protein content of all at 0.3 per cup so I think you chose the best subbing option. (Going the other way around, you can add a little wheat gluten to raise the protein content.) Hopefully, your end result was still great. Best, Leslie

  24. This recipe is amazing!!!! Since this was my first time making a cake from scratch I followed the recipe verbatim and made the delicious banana buttercream frosting listed with sliced bananas between the layers. My husband and I were tempted to eat the entire cake it was so good. He said it is the best cake he’s ever tasted. Kudos and thanks for sharing such a great recipe!!

  25. I have been looking for a recipe similar to this for months now. Me and my mom used to make this type of cake when I was younger. She now has cancer and I had wanted to make this cake for her birthday. The Frosting sounds about the same after taking out the cream cheese and the lemon juice. The only thing about the cake itself is according to my mom, it was actually a banana cake mix from either Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker and the directions for the icing was of course on the box, or either it was a regular yellow cake mix and directions on how to make a Banana cake was on the box. So I am not sure if this would still stand up to the one we used to make. I remember (this would have been early 80s) that our frosting was indeed yellow and that it would dry and form like a crust which made the cake wonderfully delicious. If you have any idea, any help would be appreciated. In the meantime, thanks for this great recipe, this is the closest I have come to yet.

  26. Hi, Can you please provide an easy way to print this recipe? I don’t see a “print this recipe” tab anywhere. Thanks so much, Trish

    • Hi Trish, I’m so sorry but we don’t have a quick print feature for these recipes at this time (but perhaps we can try to add that in the future). The recipes and instructions are set up for real-time scrolling on a smart phone or notepad that you might be able to place on your kitchen counter while you bake in place of a book or print out. WordPress has a great app if you can use that. I hope that can work for you. Best, Leslie

  27. I made this yesterday. I followed the directions to a T. I baked the cake for 25 minutes & the knife came out clean when I checked it BUT my cake turned out very dense. So disappointed ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Still eating it though!

    • Hi, Jessica, Thanks for your comment. I’m so sorry your cake didn’t turn out. I can’t actually guess what went wrong with your cake at this point since I’ve made this cake SO many times over the years and it turns out a light and lovely cake each time. The closest I can guess is that the bananas were perhaps overly ripe. They should be lightly ripe with a few spots as in the photo shown. Just curious: Did you use buttermilk or vinegar milk (although either one works for me)? I worried originally that the banana size might vary but we covered that with a description by volume. Let’s see if we can solve this mystery.

      • My bananas were about 2 days shy of being ripe enough. I used all purpose flour instead of cake flour. I used sour milk (vinegar) mixture. I may have mixed too long. Those are the only differences I believe ๐Ÿ™‚ thank you!

      • Thanks, Jessica, for further details. This was a good try. Don’t give up on your cake baking! I substitute things all the time but sometimes changes in the ingredients and method can change the outcome. I think the cake flour in this recipe is key because cake flour is a finer grind and contains more protein and makes the cake nice and light. Also the final mixture of flour should be very brief (you could even mix with a spatula instead of an electric mixer) and using spotted, ripened bananas is key because the fruit actually changes consistency and sugar levels when properly ripened for the specific recipe. Room temp eggs and fresh leaveners also work wonders. When I get some extra time, I’ll try making a video to help you put out a perfect little vintage banana layer cake. Best regards, Leslie

  28. I made this layered with Peanut Butter Mousse and Chocolate Sauce, encased in Peanut Butter Buttercream …. YUUUMMMMMMM!!!!!!! I did add a little bit of cinnamon to the batter, because I like cinnamon in my banana stuff ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. This recipe unfortunately didn’t work out for me ๐Ÿ˜ฆ my cake rose strange and it was dense with holes and tunnels in it. Upon further research I believe I may have over mixed it… I also used a substitute for cake flour (1/4 cup corn starch for every 2 cups AP flour) because that is what I had on hand… so maybe that didn’t mesh well with the recipe. The frosting, while delicious… was a bit thin and didn’t spread well, I resorted to pouring it over the cake like a glaze instead. I think you could have used the whole 8 oz. of cream cheese to thicken it up a bit. I may try again after I get to the store for cake flour and see if that was my issue. The cake was yummy if it weren’t for my baking mistake!

  30. Hi;
    Maybe I have just had a senior moment, but for the life of me, I can’t find the step in the cake instructions that join together the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients.
    I’m assuming it is somewhere after step 11 – Adding mashed bananas to batter.
    At the beginning of the recipe, in Tools Needed, it is mentioned that 2 bowls are needed (for dry ingredients and batter), so I assume (again) that when batter is mentioned, it does not contain the dry ingredients.
    The picture in Step 11 on this page (but not in the print-out), shows the mashed bananas/Buttermilk mixture being added to a flour mixture.
    Again, I assume that what is missing in Step 11 is the Mashed Bananas/Buttermilk mixture being added to the creamed butter/sugar, eggs and vanilla mixture and then this mixture being mixed into the dry ingredients.
    Please correct me if I’m wrong!


  31. What a great story! And I really got a lot out of the step by step instructions. This looks so perfectly delicious! I am not a baker but I think I might attempt this for next special occasion. I will let you know how it turns out. I love the photo of you guys with your babies!

    • Thank you ShePausedForThought! You are so thoughtful (sorry, had to). But you are! For real. And I agree with you that everyone should have a Betty in their life. I hope I get to be someone else’s Betty. I’m gonna work on that. ๐Ÿ™‚

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