Banana

'World's Best Cake' With Banana & Coconut

May 15, 2021
4.4 Stars
Photo by Rocky Luten
Author Notes

Follow these instructions and you'll have an impressive, towering dessert without having to worry about burning a meringue, shaving down layers of cake to make even lines, applying a crumb coat, or dirtying more than two bowls. Because not even "the best" is good enough for me (yes, I'll bring this up with my therapist later), I added banana, toasted coconut, and ground cinnamon and cardamom for even more elements of flavor and texture. Paul suggests adding sliced fresh strawberries, but I like the creamy, soft banana slices; the coconut and spices add some mental interest to the purely physical pleasure of eating a large slice of cake.

Is it the world's best? I can't say it is, but I also can't say it isn't. It's up to you to decide that for yourself.

Slightly adapted from Sweet Paul Magazine: http://www.sweetpaulmag.com/food/worlds-best-cake-from-sweet-paul-eat-amp-make. —Sarah Jampel

Watch This Recipe
'World's Best Cake' With Banana & Coconut
  • Prep time 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 8 to 10
Ingredients
  • 10 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (1 stick plus 2 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (170 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, and up to 1/2 cup (I like the large flakes, but you can use smaller flakes, too)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 banana, sliced (up to 2)
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and place a rack in the middle. Line a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing some to drape over the sides of the pan.
  2. In a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 2/3 cup of the sugar until light and creamy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Working on low speed, add the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt and mix well.
  4. Mix in the egg yolks and the milk until combined, then scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Clean and thoroughly dry the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Pour in the egg whites, making sure there are no specks of yolk, and add the remaining 1 cup of sugar. Beat to soft peaks—be patient, it will happen. If the egg whites aren't reaching soft peaks, wait until the mixture ribbons back onto itself. Spread this carefully on top of the cake layer.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the meringue is golden brown and puffed. About 15 minutes through baking, cover the meringue with coconut flakes (this way, the coconut can adhere to the still-damp meringue but it will not burn in the oven.)
  7. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack. Meanwhile, make the whipped cream: Pour the cream into a medium bowl and scrape in the vanilla seeds, discarding the pod. Beat to soft peaks with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes.
  8. Carefully transfer the cool cake to a cutting board. Cut the cake in half crosswise with a serrated knife. Place one half of the cake on your serving tray of choice and cover with the cream and banana slices. Place the other half, meringue side up, on top.
  9. Place the cake in the refrigerator to chill and soften for 1 hour before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Allison Elms
    Allison Elms
  • marti
    marti
  • Amanda Lowther
    Amanda Lowther
  • Laura Edgerton
    Laura Edgerton
  • Alison Shiu
    Alison Shiu

332 Reviews

Le_dove April 30, 2022
This does make an incredible cake. I bake the cake on its own first. Then cut in half and bake the top half with the meringue and coconut.
And this is cheating but you can use a cake mix. The cream, bananas and coconut meringue are the real show stoppers here.
 
NMP March 21, 2022
After reading many notes, and some googling, I decided to brave the recipe and it turned out! I did bake the cake for 15 minutes before adding the meringue layer, baked for another 18 minutes before adding the coconut flakes, then another 7 minutes to crisp them up. Let the cake rest in the pan for 20 minutes before pulling it to finish cooling on a rack. If I make it again, I might add the dry ingredient to the cake mix last, as others mentioned, to see if the cake comes out a little fluffier. I'm definitely a novice cake maker, and learned a few things in the process.
 
judy October 29, 2021
I find that what F52 claims a method or food is the BEST for any reason to watch out. They do this from cookies to egg frying. for me, when I have tried their "according to so many tests" recommendations, for example, I really don't agree. And I am a lifelong baker and foodie. Home cook for sure, not professional, but I guess we all like different things. This cake, though lauded by many in the reviews, would not even appeal to me. give me a good Tiramisu, or berry shortcake, as one reviewer extolls, or German Chocolate Cake , or Boston Cream pie... or a very good crepe Suzette. So to each their own, I guess. Happy baking of your favorite best cake.
 
Erica L. April 15, 2022
I believe the claim of world’s best comes from recipe author, not Food52
 
Le_dove October 14, 2021
I love this cake so much. Looks great and is so delicious. I do bake the cake layers separately and then put it all together. Works perfectly every time.
 
[email protected] March 28, 2021
There is a reason this cake is called World's Best Cake. I have made this cake many times and it is never a disappointment. It is so easy but so impressive besides being delicious.
 
Allison E. May 3, 2020
This recipe was soooo good! My family loved it! I’ll definitely be making this more often
 
marti March 11, 2020
I love baking and read this recipe about four times through to make sure that I understood. Everything but the actual cake itself turned out . I baked it with the time specified, checking my oven temperature to make sure that it was accurate. When I tested the cake it was raw batter. So, Put it back for 10, then another 10 then another 8 minutes to see if I could bake it.. the meringue was browning and toasted the coconut. but the cake was still iffy. I waited and let the cake completely cool before assembling ... it was a mess. I tried bite of it and threw it away.
I think that the cake should be baked separately at first maybe the 25 min testing the cake then adding the meringue and the coconut . Another thought was using lady fingers instead of the cake and proceeding with the rest of the cake. Very disappointing .
 
Marketa M. February 25, 2021
I have similar experience. I had hard time bake the cake. after 25 minutes (350F) the batter was still raw, but I put another 12 minutes at convention baking and then was good.
 
DJKP March 1, 2021
Ours did not bake either, and when it did it was stodgy.
 
Dana March 19, 2021
I had the EXACT same outcome as you did! I’m going to throw it away. What a disappointment!!!!
 
Kristy March 29, 2021
I tried making this for a small dinner party tonight and had the same result. I don't understand how that batter could possible cook through in 20 minutes. It's not even close.
 
Dana March 29, 2021
I have to write because I didn’t throw it away. I ended up baking it Three Times (!) and although it was really good (!) there’s no way the thing could be done in that short amount of time! It truly was good, but you had to alter the cooking time.
 
Amanda L. February 2, 2020
It was really good but not close to the “world’s best,” of course. :)
Very very sweet. Nice blend of textures and flavors. I love cardamom and it showcases it well. I’m proud of it. A little dainty for the super bowl, but I knew that going in.
 
Amanda L. February 2, 2020
So....mine looks awesome and I just followed the directions for the most part. All the complaints scared me so I baked 5 min longer and left off the bananas. I let the cake cool over an hour before moving forward. In addition to the whipped cream I put a layer of raspberry jam on one half of the bottom layer before topping with the cream. I’m a little concerned that the whipped cream is not sweet (just heavy cream and the stuff inside the vanilla bean, but I figure all the sugar in the other parts will do. Now I patiently wait an hour to serve as my fiancé’s bday cake at a super bowl get together. I’ll report back on the taste.
 
Linda B. November 9, 2019
I don't know why this recipe is getting so much hate. A person has to really read the instructions a few times before jumping into throwing it together. Its just not that simple. Some people in this thread couldn't figure out how to cut the cake in half. I'm not trying to be insulting to anyone but I am not a professional chef and had no problems with this cake and have made it a few times. It is The Worlds Best Cake!
 
Scott November 8, 2019
IMHO, why even post this insane recipe when 300+ reviewers complain, praise or have difficulty in making it come out right? It appears, after my reading ALL the reviews thoroughly & carefully, only master professional bakers can ace it. And the novices that did, in fact, have it turn out right, were simply “lucky.” Best cake in the world: German chocolate cake with condensed milk, coconut & pecan frosting, Another BEST, google it, “C’mon over cake!” Simple, non fail, eaters will adore it and come back for more! And NOTHING beats a real strawberry shortcake, NOT biscuits with strawberries dumped on them. (Be sure to “real” butter the cake when you cut it in half) and use only fresh berries from a local grower NOT Driscoll’s poor imitations. And of course, real whipped cream but not too sweet. My 2¢.
 
Vickie S. August 24, 2019
Just reading over varied reviews. I moved into my house about a year ago. It has a new electric stove with convection-option oven. None of my recipes work the same anymore. I am just doing hit and miss baking, going by the aroma to guess if the baked food is done. It is very discouraging. Reviews online of this stove/oven confirm my experiences of uneven temperatures and bake times, including where in the oven the baking pan is placed! So, recipes are now just guidelines hoping for the best. And this was a very expensive appliance.
 
Brandy S. October 1, 2019
Do you have an oven thermometer? It really helps to know what's going on in your oven and adjusting the temperature accordingly.
 
Laura E. November 18, 2018
Every time I glance at this impressive cake, I start getting hungry. It looks delicious and I plan to make it soon.
 
joankaufman October 5, 2018
I don't have a vanilla bean. Can I substitute vanilla and if so, how much?
 
Stephanie September 11, 2018
I made it with strawberries because not much time left in season it was wonderful. I'm going to try bananas next.
 
Sue August 19, 2018
It is suggested by “Zoe” that you read all 300+ comments before attempting to make this cake. After approximately 250 comments you will find “Zoe’s” suggested changes to the recipe to increase your chances of success. Sounds like many people had success & produced an amazing cake, & many people did not have success & like me produces a cake that was raw. You can either read 300 comments & hope for the best or move on to a recipe where the first few reviews are not about a fail!
 
Parnel August 21, 2018
Awesome Review! Thanks for saving me the time and disappointment. I’m moving on.....
 
kathy August 16, 2018
The cake does not cook in 25 minutes!!!! Can you cook it for say 10 minutes first, before adding the meringue???
 
Alison S. August 12, 2018
I baked this cake for over well over the 25 minutes suggested. Probably closer to 40 minutes and although the meringue was golden and puffed the inside cake was completely raw. It tasted good but I think next time I'll bake the cake part separately and only add the meringue part way through baking
 
Hopsmom June 4, 2018
How far in advance can this cake be made? Morning of? 1 day ahead? Thank you.
 
Karen R. May 27, 2018
I have been baking for well over 25 years, some even from scratch & following a recipe. This may sound very strange but it has always worked perfectly for me.
Whenever I am baking something following a recipe from scratch I make sure that I don't have any distractions ... usually when it is late in the day/night when no phone calls will come in works for me the best. I pull out all the ingredients, all the measuring utensils, bowls, mixing utensils, cookware, cook book, & then preheat the oven.
It is at that point when I "turn off my brain". I know it sounds completely silly & impossible but I somehow do it by just concentrating on following the recipe & doing my best to not think about anything else, including thinking ahead to the next step in the instructions. So long as I keep my thoughts on the exact place in the instructions of the recipe, whatever I am making turns out exactly how it is supposed to turn out. This happened to me when I made a cake with the name The Chocolate Lovers Ultimate Chocolate Cake". The first time I "didn't have a clue of what I was doing". However, I jumped ever so slightly ahead to the next ingredient & the measuring of that ingredient just once & the cake was a complete disaster. Not only did the cake not raise quite right, when I tried to cut it in the correct way as per the instructions, the cake collapsed & then turned out not being cooked all the way through in spite of the poke test passing before I pulled it from the oven. I know that I followed the recipe absolutely perfectly but it still was a complete failure.
Just remember, just because what works one time doesn't mean that it will work every time. If a system works for someone else that doesn't mean it will work for you. However, if something works for you, don't let anyone try to talk you out of continuing to do that thing that works for you.
Also, don't be afraid to try something new, even if it is only altering a recipe to better suit your tastes or to prevent an allergic reaction. It will either work or it won't. Technically you can't fail, it will just show you if you idea will work or not. You will be learning a new thing whether it works or not. Either way you can share your results or keep them to yourself, it's your choice, after all.
When I finally re-locate that cook book, I will be sure to pass it along to you all.
Happy baking everyone!