Banana Cake with Butterscotch, I Wanted a Cake

by on April 10, 2012

Banana Cake recipe with Butterscotch Frosting from

We entered the convention center’s ballroom to find two women sitting on the stage. One in her 30′s-40′s, chef jacket attired with a professional’s serene gaze. The other – a bubbly, plump Southern Grandma with short cropped hair, her enthusiasm barely contained. That woman was Shirley O. Corriher and over the next 45 minutes she would become one of my heroes.

It was the 2011 IACP conference in Austin, TX and Diane and I had just given a talk on food photography. With our duties done, we wandered the halls poking our heads into random sessions not knowing what to expect out of the different speakers. 30 seconds into listening to Shirley rhapsodize over different type of wheat flour and how that affects biscuits, cookies, cakes, etc…, I was hooked. I wanted to hear what this woman had to say.

Banana Cake recipe with Butterscotch Frosting from

At first glance she appeared to be just a cute grandma with a lot of enthusiasm, but the more I listened it became evident to me that Shirley was brilliant. Not content with merely creating a good recipe, she would scour the ends of the earth to find out why something works well in a recipe or not. If there was a better method, choice of ingredients, nuance in the different sources of the ingredients.  And she did it the old-school journalistic way. Testing again and again. Also by talking and cooking with people. Brilliant people.

Her knowledge was deep, but then she would also come up with new twists on techniques that were absolutely remarkable. Brushing puff pastry with ice water when you are folding the dough. Brilliant. Adds water (more steam=more puff). Chills the dough slightly allowing you to fold several times immediately instead of needing to refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes between folds.  Time is drastically reduced in making the puff pastry and the end result is better.

Banana Cake recipe with Butterscotch Frosting from

Needless to say, I’ve since bought her book, Bakewise. It has become another of my baking bibles. I’m no longer content with blindly following a recipe.  I want to know why. We have great books, books used to teach in culinary schools, but as M.F.K. Fisher wrote, “…avert your eyes from the baleful hygienic correctness of school manuals. There are good cookbooks to read, that other women have written.”

Bakewise is filled with the scientific wisdom of a baking education, but sugared and spiced with Shirley’s uninhibited enthusiasm. Want to know why baking soda vs. baking powder or how much of either is best – it is in there. Is cake flour really necessary? It is in there. Need a great recipe for …? Probably there.

Want to know why something failed or wasn’t as good as you thought it would be – poor recipes examples are given and how to correct them. Creaming butter – how long? Several pages just on creaming. And different techniques which accomplish the purpose of creaming and how each technique has its own good/bad points. Can you tell I love this book?

Banana Cake recipe with Butterscotch Frosting from

Fast forward to last week. We had a dozen left over bananas from a shoot that were quickly browning. Normally it would be banana bread time, but I wanted cake. A really good cake. Moist. Layered. Cream cheese frosting. And with butterscotch.

I already had a banana bread recipe I love, but I wanted to adjust it to make a better cake. Using Bakewise to understand different principles in creating a moist, even cake (Shirley “hates dry cakes” – I love her), I adjusted the ingredients and techniques. The recipe wasn’t harder to do, just more mindful. And better.


Banana Cake recipe with Butterscotch Frosting from

Banana Cake recipe with Butterscotch Frosting from

Banana Cake recipe with Butterscotch Frosting from

Banana Cake recipe with Butterscotch Frosting from

Banana Cake recipe with Butterscotch Frosting from

Banana Cake recipe with Butterscotch Frosting from


Banana Layer Cake with Butterscotch and a Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 1 - 8" Layer Cake

Cook Time: 1 hour + 15 minutes

The butterscotch sauce is adapted from chef Shuna Lydon’s recipe posted on  recipe posted on Simply Recipes. We’ve given it an adult kick with the addition of Scotch to complete the flavors. Having all of the ingredients ready when starting the butterscotch sauce before you begin is very important, as it is a fairly fast process, and the sauce won’t wait for you to dig around for the ingredients.

The frosting was based off of one I had from my grandma, but Shirley as almost the exact same in her book. Great minds, great women...


Banana Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups (220g) chopped Pecans
  • 3 cups (410g) Cake Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 g) Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (8g) Sea Salt
  • 1 cup (227 g or 2 sticks) unsalted Butter, room temp but not too warm
  • 3 cups (600g) Sugar
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) Canola Oil
  • 8 ripe Bananas (approx. 4 c smashed)
  • + 3 additional Bananas for final assembly, sliced length-wise
  • + 3 Tablespoons unsalted Butter for cooking bananas for final assembly

Butterscotch Sauce Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons (60 g) unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup (220 g) Golden Brown Sugar, tightly packed
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons (22 ml) Scotch
  • Sea Salt to taste (@ 1 teaspoon (5 g))

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted Butter, room temp.
  • 2  - 8oz pkgs  (455g total) Cream Cheese, room temp.
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) Vanilla Extract
  • 4 cups (455 g) Confectioners Sugar
  • few dashes Orange Bitters (optional)


Banana Cake Directions

Preheat oven to 350º F. If you have a baking stone, place that in the center rack to bake on. Butter two 8" cake pans, line bottoms with parchment paper, butter parchment, then dust with flour and tap out excess.

  1. Spread pecans in a sheet pan and bake in oven for 10 minutes or until gently toasted. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  2. In a mixer, combine cake flour, baking powder, and sea salt and mix on low for 30 seconds. Set aside. Do not clean bowl.
  3. In mixer, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy - at least 4 minutes *see note 1. Add in sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  4. On low speed, beat in egg yolks and whole eggs one at a time until just blended. On low speed, beat in canola oil.
  5. On the lowest speed, stir in flour mix until just blended.
  6. Mash bananas well, then mix bananas and pecans into batter.
  7. Divide batter between the two 8" pans, place on a sheet pan and put in the oven, or if using a baking stone , slide directly onto the baking stone in the oven.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of each of the pans. The kitchen will noticeably smell of the banana cake as it nears completion. Set aside to cool completely before frosting.

Butterscotch Sauce Directions

  1. In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over low-medium heat. Just before butter is completely melted, add the brown sugar, stirring to completely moisten the sugar.
  2. Gently cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture caramelizes and transforms from its initial graininess to a smooth “molten lava”.  Make sure to get the corners of the pot and watch closely because the texture will change quickly, 3-5 min.
  3. Whisk in all of the cream at once, lower the heat a little, and continue whisking until the the liquid is homogenous. Turn heat back up to medium and cook for another 7 minutes, whisking every few minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Add half of vanilla extract, Scotch, and sea salt, then taste for flavor.  Add more of each until the flavor is perfect to your palate. Pour into a sealable container and allow to cool fully. Store covered and refrigerated for up to a month.

Cream Cheese Frosting Directions

  1. In a mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add cream cheese and beat until light and fluffy.
  2. Stir in confectioners sugar, vanilla extract, and bitters then slowly increase speed and beat until incorporated. Set aside until ready to frost cake.

Banana Cake Assembly

  1. In a large skillet heat additional 3 T of butter over medium heat. Add sliced bananas and cook until slices start to brown, 1-2 minutes. Carefully turn over bananas and cook other side until browned, 1-2 minutes.
  2. If butterscotch has thickened too much to pour, gently heat until it becomes pourable. Set aside.
  3. Remove banana cakes from pans, peel off parchment, and trim the tops with a serrated knife to give them flat top surface.
  4. Put a dab of frosting in the middle of a cake circle or plate (the frosting helps keep the cake from sliding around). Place the first cake layer on a cake circle or plate. Line several strips of wax paper around base of cake to help keep circle or plate clean.
  5. Put about 3/4 cup of frosting in the middle of the cake and spread the frosting working from the center out, leaving a slight built up edge on the outer rim. When finished, you should have nice thin layer of frosting over most of the top surface of the cake, with a 1/2" little wall on the outer rim that will help hold in the butterscotch.
  6. Arrange browned banana slices on bottom layer of cake, keeping within the frosting rim. Pour butterscotch over banana slices (you'll only use about half of the butterscotch).
  7. Take second cake and frost a thin layer  on the cut top to seal crumb and keep butterscotch from soaking into cake. Carefully turn over cake and set on top of bananas, frosted side down.
  8. Spread frosting over entire cake, swirling to completely cover. Remove strips of wax paper at base of cakes. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving if possible.

* Note 1: The ideal temperature for butter to be creamed is 65 degrees. When creaming butter, you don't want it to get too warm. If the butter actually melts during creaming (the beating generates heat) it can result in a very heavy cake. The bowl should always feel slightly cool to the touch. If it starts to feel warm. Pause the mixing, put bowl in an ice bath or freezer for 5 minutes, then resume.

Recipe Source:

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Recipe Note for Salt: All recipes containing salt are based on kosher or sea salt amounts, not table salt. If using table salt, reduce the amount used to taste.

{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jen Yu April 10, 2012 at 11:36 pm

Awww hell yeah, Todd!! Thank you for this post. I’ve been wanting to get this book forever (because of the high altitude discussion) after a local chef mentioned it – but I had forgotten the name of the author as well as the book. I love you, man. LOVE YOU. *yippee!!!*


2 Averie @ Averie Cooks April 11, 2012 at 12:26 am

Where to even begin…omg that butterscotch sauce. Those caramelized bananas. The cake itself, the photos, you meticulously assembling your cake, part Alton Brown, part kid in a candy store. I hate dry desserts, I am a moist and gooey dessert conissiour. I love this post..and would love to meet Shirley one day. Or take any leftovers off your hands!


3 Kate {Something Fabulous} April 11, 2012 at 12:50 am

Yum! I don’t actually like banana, but this just looks too delicious to resist!

Kate {Something Fabulous}


4 sreebindu April 11, 2012 at 1:20 am

delicious =) beautiful pics.


5 Kathryn April 11, 2012 at 1:36 am

I think I need to get this book, it sounds absolutely fascinating!


6 Anina April 11, 2012 at 1:37 am

I adore this recipe and your enthusiasm in cooking matters!
The photos with Todd composing the cake reminds me of my mother who made our birthday cakes with four layers of cake (the basement were 2 large discs, the top two smaller ones) and different cream fillings( one lemon, one blue- and one rasberry filling). At the end it was a hill of cream, cake and fruits and to avoid slipping of the top part she put a knitting needle in the middle for fixing the hole thing…
We always had candied violets for decoration( ln Vienna you can buy them at Demel’s which is our most elegant and appreciated café and confectioner) These violets are really pretty on an entirely white cake!
I’m waiting impatiently for the next occasion to do this wonderful banana layer cake! you always inspire me. thanks for that!!


7 Blog is the New Black April 11, 2012 at 2:12 am

Everything about this cake sounds wonderful- right down to the butterscotch! YUM!


8 Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar April 11, 2012 at 3:40 am

This cake is seriously heavenly! Yum!


9 Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary April 11, 2012 at 3:42 am

I love Shirley! I got hooked on her when she was on Good Eats. She is brilliant…and so is that cake!


10 Lauren at The Holy Kale April 11, 2012 at 4:59 am

Well Good Morning!!!! This is a fantastic recipe that is perfect for when you want to feel good and be really bad :) Love that you brought in the science of baking, as a person who has no real baking talents I am most definitely going to check out this book because I certainly need a lesson!


11 Karen T. April 11, 2012 at 5:24 am

I don’t usually comment until I actually make the recipe but holy crap! This recipe looks divine. I’ll be making it as soon as I get back from Vegas…


12 Sue/the view from great island April 11, 2012 at 5:49 am

The first shot is one of the most exquisite cake photos I’ve ever laid eyes on…so ethereal!


13 Susan in the Boonies April 11, 2012 at 6:35 am

The first picture is especially lovely, but for me, the money shot was those caramelized bananas with butterscotch being poured on top.
Oh, heavenly days.


14 Helene April 11, 2012 at 6:59 am

Oh my to die for! Send me a slice :) Love the styling of the first picture.


15 Cynthia A. April 11, 2012 at 7:31 am

I agree completely~Shirley Corriher is a national treasure (and a heck of a lot of fun to hang out with)!

Todd, you may need to get a new t-shirt that says BAKER for those days when you’re feelin’ the baking vibe. Great post, it made my day a happy day.


16 Sini April 11, 2012 at 7:38 am

Oh my, this looks beyond delicious!


17 Colleen Porter via Facebook April 11, 2012 at 7:46 am

how about a recipe for love <3 ?


18 Brian First April 11, 2012 at 7:52 am

This looks great! I can’t say I have mad baking skills but I’m definitely going to give this one a try. Does it still taste like banana bread but has a different consistency?

Side note: I think you should take a few extra awesome baked goods of yours and sell them. You can be reassured that I would be a loyal customer.


19 White on Rice Couple April 11, 2012 at 8:20 am

Hi Brian,
It does have a banana bread taste and texture. I adjusted the recipe so the cake would bake more level and just improve the recipe in general, but is still that banana bread taste.
Thanks for the compliment!


20 JulieD April 11, 2012 at 7:53 am

It looks a little shiny and new here…I love the updated look. :) I love bananas and I love cake. I also hate a dry cake! Todd, I’m interested in getting this book now, thank you! I want some of this cake…stat!


21 EatLiveRun April 11, 2012 at 7:54 am

I love this post! I also love your tshirt, Todd :)


22 Jen Tilley via Facebook April 11, 2012 at 8:12 am

I would love a slice of this cake right now! Yum!


23 Marian (Sweetopia) April 11, 2012 at 8:19 am

Sounds like a book I’d like to have! Thanks for sharing, and gorgeous looking banana cake btw.


24 Bao April 11, 2012 at 8:39 am



25 Yadsia @ShopCookMake April 11, 2012 at 8:41 am

I want a piece of this cake now! Wow, does it look delicious!


26 Karen Milling April 11, 2012 at 9:02 am

Very nicely written piece, Todd! I love when blog posts are about more that just, “I cooked, this thing and it was delicious.” I know I’ve read a good one when I come away with a list of stuff I need to google. And to be honest, I know I’ve read a good one when I READ one- all the way through. This post really lets us get inside your head and see how you think and make your passion come to life! Thanks! And the cake looks freakin’ awesome too.


27 LiztheChef April 11, 2012 at 9:13 am

If I ever bake a cake – OK, you have inspired me – it will be this one. Love the measurements by weight! We all need to adjust our recipes to using weight…Todd, your enthusiasm is contagious!


28 Connie / Marinating Online April 11, 2012 at 9:32 am

Todd, your shirt spells it out perfectly! I am now ordering this book.


29 green beans & grapefruit April 11, 2012 at 9:36 am

These shots are gorgeous!! And this cake is making me salivate.


30 Lauren April 11, 2012 at 9:45 am

It makes me sick how beautiful your photos are!! They just ooze with talent!


31 charlotte au chocolat April 11, 2012 at 9:47 am

That cake looks incredible- caramelized bananas, butterscotch, and that magical-looking frosting! Oh my. Oh, and just added Bakewise to my wishlist.


32 Roberta Goeta via Facebook April 11, 2012 at 9:49 am

Scrumptious, mouth-watering cake, guys…


33 Rachel @ Baked by Rachel April 11, 2012 at 10:47 am

My husband would drool over this cake. Definitely a keeper!


34 Phoo-d April 11, 2012 at 12:12 pm

The cake looks and sounds amazing, but what I am really drooling over is the photography! Somehow you’ve manged to capture the of-the-moment 1960′s vibe that is everywhere this Spring and turn it into a gorgeous and compelling setting for this luscious cake. I’m in awe!


35 Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic April 11, 2012 at 1:04 pm

What a mouth-watering cake! I love all the flavors, and I love that you have a filling of bananas and butterscotch.


36 Darcy Wiersma Balicki Spiekhout via Facebook April 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm



37 Deborah Veale via Facebook April 11, 2012 at 3:36 pm

wow, am so amped to try this!


38 Kathleen Richardson April 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm

When I saw the photo with the bananas on top of the first cake layer, then saw the caramel being poured on, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.


39 Pamela April 11, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Love the sounds of this and am soooo going to be making it, soon! =) Thanks for sharing… I have my list of need to get items, so I’m ready to get them and make it next time I get out to the store. :)

Oh and by the way… do you recommend a brand or type of Scotch?? I know hubby is very particular, and won’t drink anything but Highland Scotches.



40 White on Rice Couple April 12, 2012 at 9:26 am

Hi Pamela,
You’re not using much Scotch in the butterscotch, so you don’t need to be particular. Highland will work great if you can sneak a shot away from your hubby ;)



41 Kayleigh April 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Bananas and caramel are soo great together. Like peanut butter and chocolate almost… but different.


42 Terry Covington April 11, 2012 at 6:56 pm

The attention to detail and love of what you are doing is so obvious in both of you. It’s such a pleasure to read your blog.


43 Cathy/ShowFoodChef April 11, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Wow, I’m trying to do a 2 day liquid thing just to reset after traveling and the picture of those warm bananas on a cake just about did me in. Love the shirt and the post was so fun to read. :D


44 Valentina April 11, 2012 at 8:11 pm

WOW! Amazing! XO


45 lidia April 11, 2012 at 9:03 pm

okay now i MUST add this book to my collection, can’t wait to get my hands on it.

those caramelized bananas make the cake extra fabulous!


46 sara April 12, 2012 at 8:46 pm

i love it! the cake is gorgeous and the photos so helpful (as usual), but I really appreciate a sincere review of why you love the book. Thanks!


47 Sanjeeta kk April 14, 2012 at 2:50 am

I like layering the bananas in the looks heavenly! Beautiful clicks.


48 marla April 15, 2012 at 6:15 am

Lovely cake, cute shirt!


49 Catalina @ Cake with Love April 15, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Wow this cake looks incredible, I love desserts that involve bananas!


50 Ryan April 15, 2012 at 3:49 pm

I love your banana cake recipe. If you would like to share more recipes or cakes on my FB wall, I would love it.



51 Courtney @ Bake. Eat. Repeat. April 15, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Caramelized bananas as a cake filling? Totally genius. This looks fantastic!


52 alison @ Ingredients, Inc. April 16, 2012 at 3:55 pm

absolutely loving this!


53 Reem | Simply Reem April 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Everything about this post is awesome… From Pics to Recipe..
Gorgeous Cake!!


54 Thyme (Sarah) April 17, 2012 at 5:06 am

You really got me at those Caramelized Bananas. That looks delicious. I consider myself still pretty novice in the kitchen but I am following your path too. I am becoming increasingly interested in the ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs’ of baking. I don’t have enough knowledge yet to make sense of it all but slowly it is beginning to leave question marks when I am cooking. Thanks for introducing us to a new cookbook.


55 Paula- bell'alimento April 17, 2012 at 7:59 am

Those caramelized bananas. That butterscotch sauce. The cake is calling me.


56 Paul - The Framed Table April 18, 2012 at 9:38 am

Great recipe and the final image is wonderful. Has a pleasant feeling to it with the green background.


57 Grace April 20, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I came to read your latest post and I was drawn in by the image of this banana cake and I have to admit anything butterscotch makes me drool but who knew it would hold such a treasure. I’ve been looking for a book just like the one you’ve described, heading over to Amazon to purchase right away. Thanks!


58 nancy baggett May 15, 2012 at 7:25 am

Love the story, love the cake. Same kind of cake my Nana liked to make. Funny, because I just made one of hers, and wrote about her cake presentation skills. She understood the power of the cake pedestal very well. Hope you both are doing great.


59 Rebecca August 26, 2012 at 12:27 am

Hi there, I made this cake today, though as a slab cake (my bananas kept being eaten…….). Kudos to you, this is absolutely the best banana cake I’ve made. I will make it your way next time if I can keep my bananas! Just though you’d like to know how well it works as a ‘banana bread’.

Cheers, and love the website!


60 White on Rice Couple August 26, 2012 at 11:04 am

Awesome! Love that it came out great for you. Good to know about how it came out in the different form as well. Thanks for sharing.


61 Cindy Habel October 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Absolutely LOVE your photography…and this cake looks divine! thanks for your comment on my blog :)


62 Philippe December 8, 2012 at 12:41 pm

best idea to cook this recipe is use bananas from ECUADOR and with chocolate extract from the same country, really taste so good, try to do that and will know about what I’m talking about….

Munchen, Germany!


63 Cake love January 8, 2013 at 5:53 am

This looks like the best Banana cake ever! I Can’t wait to bake it over the weekend. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.


64 K Turner May 12, 2013 at 2:35 am

This is hands down the best banana cake recipe ever: ) The only slight issue I experiences was that the cake collapsed (slightly in the middle) whilst cooling. Having followed your instructions I have come to the conclusion that this is due to the flour. Unfortunately we do not have cake flour or bleached flours in the UK, I believe that could be the difference. Thank you for an amazing recipe & for converting to grams for us here in UK: )


65 White on Rice Couple May 12, 2013 at 9:38 am

So glad you loved it. Thanks for the feedback on the flours and you are more than welcome for the conversions. I wish we could convert this side of the pond to using grams more. So much easier, especially when it comes to baking.


66 kim April 26, 2014 at 2:27 am

Sorry if this question sounds dumb, but im new to the baking scene. With the measurements, whst does “c” mean? Would it be cups? However I tried to convert it but some of it doesnt match up with the grams conversion you have.


67 White on Rice Couple May 2, 2014 at 10:18 am

It does stand for cups. I’ve updated the recipe to be more clear for everyone. What didn’t match up for you? At first glance the conversions look correct. Maybe I missed something. Thanks!


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