Quick Banana Cake: Perfect for Beginners

Apr 3, 2024

Served with either chocolate or lemon icing.

It’s a great debate!
What flavour icing do you prefer on your banana cake?
Chocolate or lemon icing?

This moist banana cake is one of my favourite ways to use up old bananas that I have stashed in the freezer or have brown in the fruit bowl.

I often get asked for the recipe for this cake because of one secret ingredient . . .

You will notice that I have added lemon juice to my cake.
There are two main reasons why. . .

  1. The acidity of lemon juice can enhance the natural flavor of bananas, making the banana taste more pronounced and vibrant in the cake.
  2. Lemon juice is acidic, and when combined with baking soda, it creates carbon dioxide gas, which helps the cake rise. This is particularly useful in cakes like banana cake, which tend to be dense due to the moisture content of bananas.

Why should I choose lemon icing?

The tangy and citrusy flavor of lemon icing contrasts nicely with the sweetness of banana cake. This creates a balanced and interesting flavor profile, with the brightness of the lemon cutting through the richness of the cake.

Why should I choose chocolate icing?

The smooth, creamy texture of chocolate icing provides a pleasing contrast to the soft and moist texture of banana cake. This variation in texture can add depth to each bite and make the dessert more enjoyable.

When did banana cake become popular?

Recipes for banana cake started appearing in cookbooks and magazines around the 1930s and 1940s, particularly in regions where bananas were abundant or easily imported. However, it’s possible that variations of banana cakes existed even earlier in regions where bananas were cultivated.

As with many culinary creations, the development of banana cake was likely a gradual process, with home cooks experimenting with ingredients and techniques to make use of ripe bananas.

Why do we use ripe bananas in cakes?

Sweetness: Ripe bananas are sweeter than unripe ones. As bananas ripen, the starches in them break down into sugars, resulting in a sweeter flavor. This natural sweetness enhances the flavor of the cake without needing to add as much additional sugar.

Texture: Ripe bananas are softer and easier to mash, which makes them blend more smoothly into the cake batter. The soft texture also contributes to the moistness of the cake.

Flavour: Ripe bananas have a more pronounced banana flavour, which is desirable in banana cake. This ensures that the banana flavor shines through in the finished cake.

Moisture: Ripe bananas contain more moisture than unripe ones. This moisture helps keep the cake moist and prevents it from drying out.

What other recipes do I have with bananas?

My forgotten fruit muffins can be made using bananas.

There is also my one bowl banana and chocolate loaf recipe

What size tin do I use?

I like to use my 2 litre capacity brownie tin from Wiltshire.

Quick Banana Cake – Perfect for Beginners

What icing will you choose?
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes


Banana Cake

  • 2 tbsp milk (30 mls)
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 125 grams softened butter
  • cups sugar (250 grams)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • cups self raising flour (225grams)

Chocolate Icing

  • 2 cups sifted icing sugar (powdered sugar) (250 grams)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 2 tbsp melted butter (30 grams)
  • 2 tbsp boiling hot water

Lemon Icing

  • 2 cups sifted icing sugar (powdered sugar) (250 grams)
  • 2 tbsp melted butter (30 grams)
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • boiling hot water (if needed to make a smooth consistency)


Banana Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 170℃ fan bake.
  • Begin by dissolving the baking soda in the milk in a small cup.
  • Prepare a square tin.
  • Cream the softened butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy (walk away and do a small task – it is best when forgotten about).
  • Add the eggs one at a time – mixing well after each additon.
  • Mash the bananas and add them to the mixture, along with the lemon juice. Mix until smooth.
  • Add in the baking soda and milk.
  • Next fold in the self raising flour.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes until turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Once cool, ice the cake.

Chocolate Icing

  • Mix the icing sugar, cocoa and melted butter in a small bowl.
  • Add the boiling water one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition (you may not need all of it – or you may need a little more).
  • Mix well until you have a smooth (but not too runny) texture.

Lemon Icing

  • Mix the icing sugar, lemon juice and melted butter in a small bowl.
  • If the consistency is too thick, add a little boiling water until you have the consistency you would like.