Luscious and fuss-free, this banana snack cake recipe with a chocolate hazelnut frosting is a recipe you’ll want to save now to make the next time you have ripe bananas!
When most people have ripe bananas, they do things like make banana bread, or peel and freeze for smoothies. Full disclosure, I’m usually team smoothie. Yet there are times a smoothie just won’t cut it. You can’t cut a smoothie. But you can cut the cake, and when the cake has fruit in it, it’s basically breakfast food now. Add a swath of Nutella buttercream frosting, and then it’s practically toast. A very moist, not too sweet, crazy delicious kind of situation that is now perfectly acceptable for breakfast. Everybody wins!
A second full disclosure, I will eat cake for breakfast with absolutely no justification other than I wanted to. This is the beauty of adulthood darlings. Sometimes we eat the roast vegetables and fish, and sometimes it’s cake. And when I have a banana snack cake in the house, we choose cake at least once a day.
What is a snack cake?
A snack cake is any cake that bakes rather easily, doesn’t require elaborate decoration, and is smaller than your traditional sheet cakes. Sheet cakes are wonderful, but they may be too large for a quick weeknight cake for the family or simple sweet to share with afternoon tea. They are the kind of quick from-scratch cake recipes one would make just because. Easy enough to not take a whole afternoon to bake, but definitely tasty enough to serve to company. The simple definition is a small sheet cake. I bake all my snack cakes in an 8×8 inch square pan or a single 8 or 9-inch round cake pan.
Banana snack cake baking tips…
Banana cake is different from banana bread. Both are still very moist and rich with banana flavor, but a banana cake is lighter in texture. That’s because banana cake creams together butter and sugar to add air to the batter. It also includes milk, which thins the mixture before baking.
Something crucial for good banana bread and banana cake, though, is using ripe bananas! I’m not merely referring to yellow bananas; you want almost brown bananas. Those extra spotty bananas you may not want to eat but don’t know how to use? They’re perfect for banana cake!
Extra ripe bananas work so well in this recipe because they’re sweeter and softer. Sweeter bananas mean we need to use less sugar, and soft bananas are quicker to mash. While a small banana chunk might be okay in muffins or banana bread, cake should be smooth.
Another trick I’ve found to bake a delicious banana cake is cooking at a lower temperature. Baking at 325 F gives the cake time to heat gently without the corners and bottom of the cake browning too quickly.
While this cake is lighter than a banana bread, it’s still not a thin cake batter. It takes some time to bake. I’ve found that with cakes like this, and my chocolate cake from scratch, a lower baking temperature works better. It helps retain moisture and provide a more even bake.
Which frosting is best?
You can use whatever frosting you like best, but I cannot recommend this Nutella buttercream frosting enough! It’s just got the perfect amount of chocolate hazelnut flavor to pair perfectly with banana cake!
Other great options would be chocolate buttercream, salted caramel buttercream, or even a classic vanilla. It just depends on your personal preferences the day you bake your cake. Change it up each time if you want!
You can keep any leftover cake in the refrigerator 3-4 days in a covered dish. I’m pretty sure it won’t last that long. 😉
I hope you love this banana snack cake recipe, darlings. Happy baking!
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup milk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 large)
Nutella Buttercream Frosting (see notes)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon milk (only if needed to thin frosting)
- Preheat your oven to 325 F. Grease an 8x8-inch cake pan, line with parchment, and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Stir in the eggs one at a time, and then add the vanilla.
- In a smaller bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- In a measuring cup combine the milk and lemon juice.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the bowl, followed by 1/2 the milk. Repeat. Stir in the last 1/3 of the flour.
- Fold in the banana mixture and transfer the cake batter to your prepared pan.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. A few moist crumbs are okay.
- Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack while you make the frosting.
- To make the frosting, cream together the butter, salt, and Nutella in a clean bowl. Add the sugar in 2-3 batches, stirring slowly to incorporate.
- Beat the frosting on medium speed for 1-2 minutes so it's light and fluffy. If you need to thin the frosting a bit, add up to 1 tablespoon of milk.
- Spread the frosting on the cooled cake and enjoy!
- Leftover cake should be stored covered in the refrigerator.
- The frosting recipe makes enough to frost the cake as pictured. If you would like more frosting, feel free to double. Since the cake doesn't really need frosting, we found a single batch of the frosting to be the perfect amount.
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USA Pan Bakeware Square Cake Pan, 8 inch, Nonstick & Quick Release Coating, Made in the USA from Aluminized Steel
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