Banana bread meets snack cake in this homey vegan banana cake! It’s made with ripe bananas and topped with a creamy, dairy-free cashew frosting. The cake is wonderfully nostalgic and a guaranteed hit.
I have a thing for banana in baked goods—any baked goods. Cookies, cake, muffins, quickbread, blondies, you name it. I’ve always loved bananas, and it’s possible that I like them even more when they’re folded into a bowl of batter. This old-fashioned vegan banana cake with creamy cashew frosting is my newest favorite, a happy marriage of traditional banana bread and something lighter, fluffier, and a little more festive.
The idea for a banana cake like this was originally inspired by an old Ina Garten recipe, the old-fashioned banana cake in How Easy is That? I loved the idea, but at the time, I didn’t have much savvy in veganizing recipes that weren’t very vegan to begin with. Since I’ve been flexing my muscles as a baker much more in the last few years, I have a better sense of how to use a non-vegan recipe as inspiration for my own baked good, and I’m having a lot of fun with the process.
The cake itself is pretty simple. I tried it a few ways, and my favorite version ended up using vegan yogurt to help create moisture and to serve as an egg replacer. Any plain vegan yogurt is fine—I used almond milk yogurt, but soy, cashew, or coconut will all work nicely.
The recipe calls for a level cup of mashed banana, which is ever-so-slightly less than I use for banana bread. The texture ends up being less dense, though this is still a more dense cake than some of the bundt cakes or birthday cakes I’ve made. I think of it more as “snack cake” than dessert, though it’s fine for dessert, too 😉
The cashew frosting will definitely add some sweetness to the recipe, but it’s sweetened with maple or agave, and I find that it’s not cloying the way a buttercream frostings can be. If you’d like your snack cake to be more like snack and less like a formal dessert, you can skip the frosting altogether.
I thought that adding some nuts would be a nice way to give a bit of crunch and texture to an otherwise very moist and soft dessert. Chopped walnuts, pecans, pistachios, or almonds would all be fine here! My local health food store has these maple walnuts that I love—they’re sweet but not too sweet, perfect for putting into oatmeal or snacking—and I used them. If you have a homemade recipe for vegan candied nuts that you’re into, that would work really well, too. You could also finish the cake with a sprinkling of toasted coconut.
I always think of fall as baking season, a time when it’s finally cool enough to turn the oven on and greet the change in seasons with the smell of spices and sweets. This cake isn’t spiced like a lot of autumnal treats are—you’ll taste banana and vanilla most of all—which makes it a nice, all-purpose cake for any season. I hope you’ll like it as much as I have. And I’ll see you this weekend for the weekly roundup.
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Looks amazing! Wondering if it’s possible to sub honey for the sugar?
I think you could do that, Anita—and I’d use the same amount. You might have some differences in texture, but I don’t think they’ll be a big deal if you keep the ratios the same. If you try it, let me know how it goes!
Hello, how could I replace yogurt?
Thank you, I can smell it 🙂
Thanks for the recipe my family enjoy .
I just made this cake and it didn’t rise as high as it appears in your photo. Baking soda and powder used were not outdated… did I do something wrong?
I’m sorry to hear that! Did you use the lemon juice? It’s also possible it had something to do with oven heat, the age or brand of flour, etc. I’m not sure, but I hope the taste was good in any case!
I just love banana cake and this recioe sounds beaut. I learnt this trick where you store over ripe bananas in the freezer for use in banana cakes and muffins. Just defrost priir to use. Works a treat as the banana is mushy ready for use in the cake. Saves a few dollars as well and I’m all for ‘waste not want not’. Thanks for this recipe. Looks delish!
Wow looks delicious – I’ll have to make this banana bread. I always have so many over-ripe bananas in my freezer!
-Enrique, Vegan P2P Facebook Group
Wow! This is gorgeous. It looks exactly how banana cake should look and I want a piece right now please! xx
This is the closest recipe I have found to recreating the not too sweet, slightly dense tea cakes I remember my mom making when I was growing up. So far it has been the perfect dessert, and I can tell it will be great for breakfast and snacks as well. I didn’t make the frosting but I did add walnuts to the batter. Thank you for this, it is definitely going to have a place in my baking rotation.
I’m so glad you’re enjoying it, Anya!
this is stored in the fridge after frosting I am guessing? also any advice if I want to make cupcakes out of this recipe instead of a cake?
Sizo, you can keep it at room temperature for about a day, and the fridge after that. I think it could easily make cupcakes, but probably closer to 10 than to a dozen!
OMG Gena!! This looks fabulous! I love banana in baked goods too. This is so classic and pretty and yet total comfort food. It will be something I try some weekend when the kids are here. Thank you!! xoxo
ps: I could almost smell it. 🙂
This looks absolutely amazing, and, I’ve gotta say, it’s maybe the prettiest banana bread I’ve ever seen. MUST try this one out!
This looks so good Gena!
I’ll take a slice of this with a cup of tea this afternoon please ;). I actually have scribbled somewhere in my notes “eat more banana cake” with step one being: make a banana cake. Making my dreams come true lady.
sounds delicious- and the photos are so beautiful!