Ina Garten’s Easy Banana Cake Was ‘so Popular’ at Barefoot Contessa

Skip banana bread and make Ina Garten’s banana cake with overripe bananas. The Barefoot Contessa cake recipe is easy to follow. And, unlike banana bread, it has cream cheese frosting. 

Overripe bananas spurred the invention of Ina Garten’s Old-Fashioned Banana Cake

Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten smiles wearing pearl necklaces and a brown shirt
Ina Garten | Eugene Mim/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

For some, overripe bananas in the kitchen might mean banana bread is in the near future. But when Garten found herself at Barefoot Contessa, the specialty food store she ran for decades, with an abundance of overripe bananas, she went in a different direction. 

As the Food Network star explained in her 2010 Barefoot Contessa cookbook, How Easy Is That?, she developed a recipe for banana cake. “At Barefoot Contessa, we always seemed to have too many overripe bananas so I came up with this delicious banana cake to use them up,” Garten explained. 

She continued, saying over time the banana cake, which is officially referred to as Old-Fashioned Banana Cake, became a favorite among customers. She said: “Eventually, the cake was so popular that we didn’t have enough bananas to meet the demand for the cake!”

How to make the Barefoot Contessa’s banana cake 

Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten holds a spoon and looks on wearing a blue shirt during a cooking demonstration
Ina Garten | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Per the recipe instructions via Food Network, Garten’s banana cake can be made in just under 90 minutes. As the cookbook author explained while preparing the cake on Barefoot Contessa, it starts with “really ripe bananas.” 

She mashes them up with a fork before putting them in the bowl of a standing mixer. “I’m combining all the wet ingredients first,” she said as she added in light brown sugar, eggs, sour cream, “good” vanilla extract, vegetable oil, and orange zest.

“This is actually one of my favorite cakes,” she said noting that it’s “a really easy cake to make.” 

Sifting together the dry ingredients — flour, baking soda, and kosher salt — she slowly put them in the bowl with the mixer on low. “If you dump it all in you’ll end up with lumps and nobody needs lumps in their banana cake,” she explained. 

With all of the ingredients combined, she transferred the batter to a baking pan. After 45-50 minutes in the oven, Garten removed the cake and let it cool. 

Meanwhile, she combined cream cheese and butter, both at room temperature, with powdered sugar and more “good” vanilla extract to make the frosting. When the cake cooled completely, Garten frosted the cake and topped it with a few walnuts for decoration.

Reviewers give the cake 5 stars

Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten smiles sitting at a table speaking to fans
Ina Garten | Noam Galai/Getty Images for NYCWFF

Reviewers love Garten’s banana cake. The recipe, which has been reviewed nearly 200 times, averages five stars on Food Network’s website. Comments range from “the most amazing cake ever” and “cream cheese frosting is to die for” to “simple but perfect” and “something you never want to be without.” 

“I have made this recipe countless times and I am always delighted at how perfect it is,” wrote one reviewer. “This cake is one of those recipes that is understated yet amazing,” added another. Another described it as “basically like the best banana bread you’ve ever had with icing.” 

“Most banana cakes are firm and dry, but not this one!” wrote another before calling it “so delicious and soft.” One oven called it “so much better than banana bread.” 

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