Make Ahead

New Seasons Bavarian Banana Cake

January  8, 2014
13 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves 12 to 16
Author Notes

I grew up four blocks—a short walk—from Kienow's Bohemian Bakery in Portland, Oregon. Whenever my family needed a last-minute dessert, we’d pick up one of their Bavarian Banana Cakes and our guests would fuss over it with a big smile. I even bought my wedding cake from them. But, by the time our first wedding anniversary came around, Kienow’s doors had closed.

Fortunately, our local newspaper, The Oregonian, soothed the angry community clamor by printing Kienow’s Banana Cake recipe. I never thought to make it until my husband requested a Bavarian Banana Cake for his 40th birthday party. Over time, I made my own variations on the recipe.

I added a rum syrup to the cooling cake and created a whipped cream and mascarpone frosting inspired by New Season's Bakery. This cake tastes light and creamy and is my husband and son's favorite cake. If you serve this at a party, just be prepared to share the recipe. Enjoy! —gravy lessons

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Gravy lessons is a Portland native who loves this cake almost as much as she loves her two dogs, Barnaby and Sadie.
WHAT: A mascarpone-frosted banana cake with a kick of rum.
HOW: Make a banana-based cake, then spoon a banana-rum syrup over top. Slice the cake into layers and join each level with a mascarpone-vanilla frosting and (you guessed it) sliced bananas.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We aren't monkeying around when we say we went bananas over this cake. Gravy lessons has created a new classic that plays off of and revives the original, with a bite from the rum and a thicker, mascarpone-based frosting. Long live the Bavarian Banana Cake! —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the banana cake:
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup vanilla sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup corn or other neutral oil
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (approximately 3 bananas)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup banana rum, or your favorite rum
  • For the whipped cream and mascarpone filling:
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 bananas, thinly sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together sifted cake flour, vanilla sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until just combined. Add corn oil, mashed bananas, and vanilla. Beat for 1 minute until just combined, then add the buttermilk and egg yolks and beat for 1 additional minute. Set aside to make the meringue.
  2. In a separate bowl, with clean beaters, beat egg whites on medium speed. While continuing to beat, add cream of tartar, then 1/2 cup sugar gradually. Beat on high until stiff peaks form. Fold the meringue gently into the cake batter until the streaks just fade.
  3. Prepare a 12- x 17-inch jelly roll pan (a large baking sheet with high edges): Butter the edges, then line it with parchment paper and flour it. Pour the batter in and place it into the oven. Bake for about 17 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a cooling rack.
  4. While the cake cools in the pan, make the rum syrup by combining the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the rum in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir and simmer until it thickens, about 2 minutes. Once slightly cooled, flip the cake out onto a cutting board or cooling rack. Stab the cake with a toothpick or bamboo skewer all over, then spoon rum syrup over the surface of the cake. Let the cake cool for one hour.
  5. To make the frosting, sift confectioners' sugar into a bowl and set aside. In a large chilled bowl, whip the cream and mascarpone together, gradually adding the confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Whip until firm peaks.
  6. To assemble the cake, cut the edges off of it. Cut the cake into thirds and then those thirds in half so that you have six cakes—this will yield two cakes with three layers each. Place one layer on a plate. Prepare a pastry bag with a large star tip and pipe the frosting evenly across the top of the cake. Top the frosting with a single layer of banana slices. Place another layer of cake on top and repeat with the third layer. Pipe frosting into straight lines or stars onto the third layer to decorate. Repeat with the second cake. Refrigerate—this cake tastes best after it rests in the fridge for a few hours, or up to overnight. Serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jean Ernest Anderson
    Jean Ernest Anderson
  • Rhita LaVine Baldwin
    Rhita LaVine Baldwin
  • blogbetwixt
  • Patrice Alberts Jensen
    Patrice Alberts Jensen
  • sage

20 Reviews

Jean E. January 22, 2023
Such a wonderful cake. I made it with my pampered chef bar pan. I also made a coconut milk/shredded coconut/sugar syrup rather than the rum. I strained out the coconut and it worked great. Also cut way back on the sugar in the frosting.....I like whipped cream lightly sweetened. Can't wait to eat for my daughter's birthday tomorrow!
Rhita L. July 8, 2022
I find the cake to be thin and sticky. Can’t figure out how to get a more consistent batter and a lighter cake. But the cream??? Oh man so yummy!
leem12001 August 15, 2021
What a great recipe! Everything worked out great! I did in fact use Bob's Red Mill Gluten 1 for 1 Baking Flour and did the replacement of 2TBSP/cup with corn starch to make it similar to cake flour.

The only other thing I would say is that this recipe with a 12"x17" pan could really yield up to 24 pieces as its pretty rich and the slices are large for our family based on the two cakes that are made from this recipe. The slices can be halved and served as a single serving.

We grew up on Kienow's banana cakes as the family standard for birthday parties. This is pretty much spot on.
blogbetwixt January 24, 2021
I cannot even begin to say how happy I am to find this recipe! We’ve been devotees of this cake since the Kienow’s days as well, and while the New Seasons version is good it’s been tweaked over the years and isn’t *quite* right now. This, however, is perfect.
teaafternoons May 8, 2020
Grew up loving Kienow’s banana daughter made this for me on my birthday, and it was, well, heaven. Used simple syrup for the syrup step. It was perfectly banana-y, like a favorite memory in real time. Thank you for the recipe ❤️
FoodieinBarcelona September 25, 2019
I made this as muffins and a loaf cake and the muffins came out depressed in the middle while the loaf had a significant valley. And the chocolate chips I put in sank to the bottom. So I guess the mixture is too light to be baked that way. However,​ I loved the flavour. I skipped the rum syrup at the end and just added some rum to the cake batter.
GreenState July 7, 2019
This cake is perfect. Even without the rum sauce. I did not have marscapone on hand so substituted cream cheese w/ a little bit of butter.

I’m also a Portland native, who remembers the amazing Bavarian cakes of Kienows and Beaverton Bakery in its hey-day. You nailed it! Thank you for sharing!!
crustncrumb July 2, 2019
Absolutely perfect. Have made many times, and it never fails me. I don't like rum so have always use coconut syrup instead (homemade w/ coconut milk & sugar). I top w/ toasted coconut if I have time. Deliciousness !
Patrice A. June 18, 2018
This was one of the many layers of my wedding cake. Same thing happened to us, when our 1st anniversary came around the bakery was closed. Thank you so much for sharing it.
Lusty D. February 2, 2018
Cn anyone tell me if this cake can be rolled? Like a jelly roll cake? Is the cake pliable enough or one the dry side? Appreciate any insight. Thank you
Mary O. March 8, 2020
I just made this today. I think it would probably be able to be rolled. I thought about trying it but opted to follow the directions. Haven’t tasted it yet but it smells divine!
Jessica March 16, 2017
Hi. What can you substitute for rum in this recipe?
sage March 23, 2017
i just do an extra big splash of vanilla and some water
sage October 26, 2016
this cake is, to say the very least, transcendent. it never fails me.
SCalabretta March 6, 2016
This is a delicious cake! I didn't have a jelly roll pan that large, so I made it in 4 9" cake pans, and it turned out perfectly.
gravy L. March 10, 2016
Wonderful! Good to know.
Alexandra V. March 2, 2016
Yeah! I am obsessed with New Seasons banana cake! I am thinking now I can make my own and not pay $7 a piece for it! Thanks!
gravy L. March 10, 2016
My pleasure! You'll love it more than the New Seasons version. Trust me. :)
Monica February 15, 2016
Can I use apple sauce or some other oil instead of corn oil? Also, can this be made in cake pans? Thanks!
gravy L. March 10, 2016
Hello! I did not try apple sauce but I did try canola and vegetable oil in it and the result was a denser cake. This batter is best when baked in the jelly roll pan. Let me know if you try the apple sauce version. I'd love to hear how it turns out!