This rich, moist banana cake with cream cheese frosting starts with boxed yellow cake mix as a shortcut.
⏲️ Time needed
You'll want to plan ahead—this is not a last-minute dessert. The cake itself takes little prep to make, but you'll need to allow for cooling time after the 25 minutes in the oven (typically recommended at 2-3 hours, but you can speed this up with our tips below).
The cream cheese and butter will need 30-45 minutes to soften at room temperature so set those out before you're ready to make your frosting.
Plan on at least 2 and ½ hours total time.
- yellow cake mix
- baking soda
- cream cheese
- powdered sugar
🌾 Adaptations for dietary restrictions
Gluten-free. Gluten-free yellow cake mixes are available in most grocery stores in the regular cake mix aisle.
Combine all cake ingredients and mix well with a mixer. Pour the batter into 2 round greased and floured cake pans. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until done. While the cake cools, prepare the frosting.
Cool the cake layers, cut off the rounded tops (see below), and frost.
Cooling the cake. To speed up the cooling process, place the cake pan on a cooling rack after removing it from the oven. The more cool air that can circulate around the pan, the faster the cake will cool. After 15-20 minutes, remove the cake from the pan to the cooling rack.
To avoid breakage, I like to put a cooling rack upside down on top of the cake pan and invert the whole thing onto the cooling rack. If you do not have two cooling racks you can do the same thing with a plate, but I recommend putting parchment paper on the plate so that after inverting, the cake ends up sitting on the parchment paper. Transfer the cake layer from the parchment paper to the cooling rack.
Cutting off the rounded top. To ensure a nice, flat finished cake, cut off the rounded top of each layer. I do this with a long serrated bread knife, gently sawing just the rounded top parallel to the counter surface. This is a square chocolate cake, but the procedure is the same:
For a prettier and perfectly even top, when assembling the cake I place the two cut sides facing each other at the center of the cake (this means that one layer is right side up and the other is upside down on top of it with a layer of frosting in between the two). This method has the flat, even sides that were the bottom of each layer facing the bottom and top in the final cake assembly.
- 15 ounce box yellow cake mix
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 bananas, mashed
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup water
- butter or shortening, as needed to grease pan
- flour, as needed to flour greased pan
- 8 tablespoons butter (one stick), softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 pound powdered sugar or more as needed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the cake:
- Combine all cake ingredients and mix well with a mixer.
- Pour into 2 round greased and floured cake pans.
- Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool on a cooling rack.
- Cut the rounded top from each layer. (These photos are from a chocolate cake, but they help to illustrate the procedure.)
- Remove the rounded top. You won't use it in the recipe, so feel free to sample it.
- Frost and serve.
For the frosting:
- Combine all ingredients until frosting reaches a nice spreadable consistency. Frost cake before serving.