Perhaps my favorite snack, a banana smothered in smooth peanut butter hits the spot like no other snack can. As comforting and scrumptious as that is, this gluten-free banana cake covered in whipped peanut butter frosting is probably the more superior snack choice. I hope you come to agree.
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Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Banana Cake
Soft layers of moist banana cake stacked and wrapped in glorious whipped peanut butter buttercream frosting. The perfect combination of sweet and salty, this decadent gluten-free and dairy-free banana layer cake is comfort in every single bite. This an easy recipe with simple steps that will have you coming back for it time and time again.
What Makes Up A Banana Cake
With a sweet and salty combination of warm banana and subtly salty peanut butter frosting, each element brings a scrumptious addition to this cake:
- Banana Cake Layers – super soft, moist, and packed full of sweet mashed bananas.
- Peanut Butter Frosting – so smooth and fluffy, this dairy-free swiss meringue peanut butter frosting compliments the sweet banana cake layers perfectly.
Banana Cake Ingredients & Substitutions
As always this recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free. That said, I do test each recipe with “regular” ingredients and make notes of alternatives or swaps so that everyone can enjoy it.
Here are a few key ingredients for this cake but make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom recipe card for the complete ingredient list.
- Gluten-Free Flour: Check to see if your blend contains xanthan gum. This can also be swapped for regular cake flour if you are not gluten-free. Note that gluten-free flour blends can vary in weight so I recommend measuring by the cup. I made this cake with XO Baking Co. all-purpose baking mix. If you are not gluten-free, swap the flour with regular cake flour and omit the xanthan gum.
- Dairy-Free Butter: I enjoy baking with Becel plant-based bricks but any dairy-free butter substitute will work. You can also use regular butter if you are not dairy-free.
- Dairy-Free Milk: I love to bake with unsweetened almond milk but this recipe will work with any type of dairy-free or regular dairy milk.
- Oil: Use canola or vegetable oil for best results.
- Dairy-Free Sour Cream: The market has a handful of fabulous dairy-free sour cream options now. You could also use dairy-free plain or vanilla yogurt. And of course, if you are not dairy-free swap in regular sour cream, full fat is best.
- Peanut Butter: While I love any and every kind of peanut butter, this recipe will require smooth, sometimes called creamy, peanut butter. Not the natural kind either. I went with Kraft peanut butter, but brands such as Skippy or Jif will absolutely work as well.
- Bananas: The more overripe the bananas are the sweeter the cake layers will be. I’m talking about bananas that have turned brown/black. And if you’re anything like me, your freezer is full of this perfectly overripe fruit.
* Rachel with Baking Mischief shares a really awesome method on how to quickly ripen bananas when you want to bake with them. It’s a great read and perfect for this recipe.
The Easiest Gluten Free Banana Cake layers
These easy oil-based banana cake layers are as simple as they come. Full of sweet overripe bananas, a hint of brown sugar, and so much moisture due to the oil and sour cream. Warm and inviting banana speckles are dotted through each delicious cake layer giving an appetizing appearance to each slice.
Get started by combining the bananas, both kinds of sugar, and the oil in a large mixing bowl with electric beaters or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat together on high until the bananas are thoroughly mashed and combined.
Next up, add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract to the mixture, and again, beat that together until smooth. See how easy this is already.
Dump in the remaining ingredients which will be the flour, xanthan gum (if using), baking powder, and salt. Mix that all together until the last bit of flour has been incorporated and then stop right there.
Divide the banana cake batter evenly into three prepared 6-inch round cake pans and bake away. Perfectly moist and perfectly delicious gluten-free dairy-free banana cake layers. Easy peasy!
How To Make Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Frosting
I’m generally an American buttercream type of gal. A sucker for all things sweet, it’s my go-to when frosting a cake. With that said, this banana cake is sweet enough as is so I decided to switch lanes and pair it with a swiss meringue peanut butter frosting. Less sweet, swiss meringue takes a few more steps but is 100% worth it. Trust me on this.
Here are a few tips and tricks to ensure dairy-free swiss meringue peanut butter frosting success. If you have any further questions though go to the bottom and leave them in the comments for me.
- Temperature is key when making swiss meringue. The egg white and sugar mixture needs to come to 160ºF. I recommend having a candy thermometer for this but if you don’t, you’ll know it’s ready when the sugar has fully disolved and the mixture is without grit or grain when rubbed between your fingers.
- Beat the cooked egg whites and sugar mixture until it reaches still peaks and has cooled off. This should generally take 10 minutes in a stand mixer.
- Use room temperature butter or even slightly colder than room temperature. This will create a soft fluffy frosting but one that is still stable enough to stack and pipe with. If you find the frosting too soft, pop it in the fridge for 10-20 minutes and then re-whip.
These tips will help you create not just a delicious dairy-free swiss meringue peanut butter frosting, but one that will stack and pipe gorgeously.
Banana Cake: Step By Step Instructions
Step 1: Beat the bananas, sugar, and oil together until smooth and combined.
Step 2: Pour in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract and mix again until smooth.
Step 3: Add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Be careful to not overmix the cake batter.
Step 4: Divide the cake batter into three 6-inch cake pans that have been prepared with baking spray and parchment paper and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes. Cool cakes on a cooling rack.
Step 5: Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and heat over a double boiler until they reach 160ºF.
Step 6: With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white and sugar mixture on high speed until cool and stiff peaks are achieved.
Step 7: Add the room-temperature butter and begin to mix on low. Once the butter has been incorporated turn the mixer up to high and allow it to whip for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape the edges of the bowl when necessary.
Step 8: Measure in the smooth peanut butter and salt and mix on low until combined. Again, turn the mixer up to high and allow it to whip for another 5 minutes until silky smooth.
Cake Assembly Tips
Stacking a layer cake can feel a bit scary. But, as they say, slow and steady wins the race. Let’s set you up for cake success with a few tips and tricks.
Here are a few assembly tips:
- Fully Cooled Cake Layers: even if a tiny bit warm, layers will slip when warm. Ensure that each cake layer is fully cooled if not even a bit chilled. I will even work with semi-frozen cake layers if I had to bake them a few days before stacking.
- Leveled Cake Layers: flat and level cake layers will sit far easier than crooked ones. I use this super easy cake tool to ensure each cake layer is perfectly level.
- Keep the Cake Chilled: if at any point you begin to feel the cake slip or the frosting is too soft to work with, pop the cake and the frosting back into the fridge to chill. Remember, don’t rush it. Take your time.
How To Decorate A Banana Cake
“As you desire” is often how I refer to cake decoration. It’s not that I don’t want you to make the exact same cake as I did, it’s simply that I don’t want you to feel like you *have* to make the exact same cake. We all have an inner cake artist and I always want to encourage you to let it shine. That said, I quickly break down this gluten-free and dairy-free banana cake decor for you.
Step 1: Crumb-coat the cake and allow it to chill for 20 minutes. See the above section for stacking tips and tricks.
Step 2: Put a final “beauty” coat of frosting on the cake and smooth the sides with a cake smoother. I left the top edge raw for a rustic aesthetic. Allow the cake to chill for another 20 minutes.
Step 3: Place banana slices around the top of the cake in a wreath-like fashion leaving approximately 1 inch between each banana slice.
Step 4: With a piping bag and a Wilton 1M piping tip, pipe small buttercream swirls between each banana slice to approximately the same height.
Step 5: Chill the cake until ready to serve.
Storing and Freezing Instructions
This cake can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. It can also be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.
If you want to bake these layers a few days in advance, you most certainly can. Allow the cake layers to cool, cover them tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze until you a ready to stack and decorate the cake. Remove the cake layers from the freezer approximately 1 hour before you plan to stack and decorate and allow them to thaw slightly at room temperature.
This cake can also be frozen fully stacked and decorated. However, I do recommend using fresh banana slices the day of serving. Special occasions are often busy and I will sometimes freeze an entire finished cake a few days in advance to save time and stress.
The night before you plan to serve the cake, remove it from the freezer and place it in the fridge to slowly thaw overnight. Do not take it straight from the freezer to room temperature. Doing so will cause condensation and you will risk the cake toppling.
The Yummiest Gluten-Free Banana Cake
A piece of banana peanut butter heaven, this fantastic gluten-free and dairy-free banana cake is a delicious combo of sweet and salty in every single bite. Soft moist banana cake layers with silky whipped peanut butter swiss meringue frosting. This beautiful banana cake is a delight in every scrumptious bite.
Make sure you tag me on social media @cakedbykatie and leave me a rating and review below if you make it. Can’t wait to see it!
Sweet & Salty Baking Inspiration
Here are a few other sweet and salty combinations that I know you’ll enjoy:
- Snickers Cake
- Double Chocolate Caramel Cookies
- Salted Caramel Cake
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- No-Bake Cookie Butter Bars
- Confetti Squares
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies