Cast Iron

Caramelized Banana Upside-Down Cake

March 19, 2021
36 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

An easy to throw together, deliciously moist (a controversial word, I know), oil-based yellow cake—baked in a cast iron skillet and "topped" with caramelized bananas. —Jessie Sheehan

Watch This Recipe
Caramelized Banana Upside-Down Cake
  • Prep time 40 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 8
Ingredients
  • For the caramelized bananas
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 large bananas, just ripe, sliced lengthwise
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • For the yellow cake
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and salt and cook until melted, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and decoratively press the bananas (flat side down, rounded side up) into the caramel, until all of the caramel is topped with bananas. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized bowl, and set aside.
  4. Place the oil, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the egg and yolk, and continue whisking until smooth. Add the buttermilk and whisk again.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and using a rubber spatula, gently fold to combine. Do not over mix.
  6. Scrape the batter over the bananas and gently smooth the top.
  7. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating at the halfway point, until a cake tester comes out with a moist crumb or two.
  8. Immediately run a paring knife around the edge of the pan. Let sit for 5 minutes, then carefully invert the cake onto a serving platter. If bits of caramel or banana stick to the bottom of the pan, scrape them off and place them back onto the cake.
  9. Let cool until the caramel sets a bit, about 20 minutes, or cool to room temperature. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
  10. The cake will keep wrapped in plastic on the counter for up to 3 days, but it is best the day it is made.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Shannon PS
    Shannon PS
  • Diana Nicholette Jeon
    Diana Nicholette Jeon
  • keithcancook
    keithcancook
  • Gigi S.
    Gigi S.
  • Bea
    Bea
Bio: Jessie Sheehan is a cookbook author, recipe developer, and baker. She is the author of The Vintage Baker (one of the Washington Post’s best cookbooks of 2018 and beloved by Oprah and Nigella) and the co-author of Icebox Cakes (both published by Chronicle Books). She has developed recipes for many cookbooks, besides her own, and has contributed recipes, written and/or created video content for Better Homes & Garden, Rachael Ray Everyday, the Washington Post, Fine Cooking, Yankee Magazine (October 2020) Epicurious, Food52, The Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family Show, The Feed Feed, The Kitchn, TASTE, Chowhound, Yummly, Spruce Eats and Little Sous, among others.

98 Reviews

success1! February 9, 2021
Banana's Foster on Cake- Yum! This is a simple yet elegant twist on banana cake. Quick and easy directions to follow, and when done appears as if you really slaved on a special dessert. I might add a few pecans in the topping next time, but it was very good as is. I consider this recipe to be a "keeper".
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. February 9, 2021
amazing! and love that description "banana foster on cake!" - just perfect!
 
success1! February 9, 2021
My mom loved Banana Foster and always ordered it whenever on the menu. I served this cake to my dad and my first comment to him was "mom would have loved this". The best seal of approval I can give. Great recipe, thank you!
 
thenenebean November 11, 2020
Light, fluffy delectable. Seriously easy and the result was delicious. Next time I’m adding rum to the caramel.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. November 11, 2020
yay! so glad you liked and will make again. XO
 
eileen September 10, 2020
Didn't have bananas but plenty of fresh pears from our trees.
It turned out beautifully , will try with berries next. It is a great
cake recipe, thank you for sharing !
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. September 16, 2020
Yum and yay!! Love that it works with different fruit!!
 
Jenny August 18, 2020
This cake was absolutely delicious! Thank you for this recipe! The cake is best with bananas that are just ripe. They melt in your mouth. It is also delicious with vanilla ice cream. Highly recommend!!
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. August 19, 2020
Yahoo! So glad you were pleased with the recipe and yes to vanilla ice cream!!
 
Shannon P. June 28, 2020
This was probably one of the fanciest looking and tasting and SOUNDING desserts I ever made, and it was by far one of the easiest. I love when a recipe requires minimal effort and delivers such a fantastic result. Definitely making this the next time we have company over :)
 
Shannon P. June 28, 2020
Forgot to mention, I did not have a cast iron skillet! So I made the caramel sauce in one of my stainless steel pots, poured it into a 9" non stick cake pan (pre-greased), then put the bananas in the caramel and continued on with the directions. Baked in the oven for about 45 minutes and came out perfectly. No issues with caramel sticking, it flipped over wonderfully :) So for anyone without a cast iron skillet, you can just use any deep-dish cake pan you have! Ours was a deep dish 9"
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. June 28, 2020
Yahoo!!! So happy you were pleased and what a ringing endorsement. Love when peeps find my recipes both delish AND easy. That’s what’s the goal. Thanks for sharing.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. June 28, 2020
And thank you for the tip re: a nine inch cake pan. People have asked about what to do if they don’t have a cast iron skillet and glad to hear your report of how well it works with a cake pan.
 
carolcpaula April 24, 2020
I wish I could take a picture of this cake. But, I just discovered that you have a instagram account. I will totally following you over there and post the picture of your banana cake. Recipe is super easy, it works perfectly. I read the reviews before making it, but at first I wanted to make it as it is! Thank you so much for sharing this delish recipe! :)
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. April 24, 2020
Oh my gosh! So excited to hear you made the recipe as-is and were pleased. I love hearing about twists and tweaks but I also love hearing when a recipe is made as I wrote it. Looking forward to seeing you over on IG! XO
 
carolcpaula April 24, 2020
I did post the picture through my account @lacuisinedecharlie! It is a fun page that my dog is the main character watching me cooking. lol once again, thank you so much. Now I will be following your next recipes (and old ones) over there! have a lovely day and stay safe!
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. April 24, 2020
Yes! I saw the post in stories. And reposted it! And u and your stay safe, as well.
 
Sara April 5, 2020
Ridiculously easy and tasty! I tucked a 1/4 cup walnuts crumbled along the edge before adding batter.mmmmmm
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. April 5, 2020
Yum and yay! The addition of walnuts sounds delish!
 
Jenna M. March 29, 2020
Absolutely loved this!! Thanks, Jessie!
I'll definitely make it again. I didn't get the caramel quite right (couldn't get the butter to meld all the way with the sugar - need to figure out what I did wrong), but it still turned out great. Looked beautiful and tasted so good! I love how the slight tang of the buttermilk in the cake kept the whole thing from being too sweet. It was so good with a scoop of icecream too. My husband isn't big on sweets, and he loved it as well. Such a perfect indulgent treat while we are "sheltering-in."
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. March 29, 2020
Yay yay yay!! So happy to hear this. Hope U and your husband stay safe and healthy. XO
 
Jenna M. March 29, 2020
Thank you!! I hope you are staying safe & healthy too!
 
Meribethcakes March 27, 2020
This cake was easy and delicious. It can be mixed by hand, so no need to drag out the Kitchenaid. I’ve found that it works better with bananas that are still firm. I had a few bananas that still had a tiny bit of green and some with brown spots and the slightly under ripe fruit held it’s shape better. After reading reviews, I increased the butter to 3oz and the brown sugar to 1/2 cup. I’m wondering if coconut oil would be a delicious alternative to veg oil?
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. March 27, 2020
So pleased the cake was a success! And I think coconut oil would be fab.
 
Diana N. January 17, 2020
This is a very simple and delicious recipe for upside-down cake that could be used as the base for any fruit. It's a keeper. However, the cake itself is FAR too sweet and it could use more topping. The second time, I used more butter and brown sugar at the bottom of the pan and added only 1/2 C sugar to the cake. Now I have it pinned to my Keepers board rather than recipe category boards so that I can always use it for my upside downs. Far faster recipe than the flour milk separation method my previous go-to used. Thanks!
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. January 17, 2020
thanks for the tips and so glad you have modified it to your liking!
 
keithcancook December 29, 2019
Fantastic,better than pineapple upside down cake.I made it exactly as written.
Next time I will double brown sugar for more caramelization.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. January 17, 2020
yay!!! so happy you enjoyed,
 
Gigi S. November 26, 2019
I just signed up only to place a review about this cake. Very easy to make and so delicious! I had a lot of ripened bananas but I was kind of tired of banana bread so I was looking to make a banana cake without having bananas inside the batter. This was perfect! I made a few changes though, based on what I had on hand. I don't have a cast iron skillet without ridges so I made this cake in a 9 1/2 deep glass pie dish. I melted the butter in the oven and then I added Sucanat instead of brown sugar which I ran out. Sucanat didn't dissolve so I thought it would turn out a horrible mess. Not at all! I placed 3 large bananas cut in half lengthwise. I didn't have buttermilk so I put 4 1/2 tsp white vinegar in a measuring cup and then filled to 1 cup with whole milk. I don't know why my batter turned out more liquid than the one in the video since I measured everything correctly. This was the second time I thought: "this is going to be a disaster". After 40 min. in the oven I tested it and it was still raw (obviously because it was in glass dish and not in cast iron) so I let it cook for full 60 min. It turned out AMAZING! I'll make it again definitely, thanks!
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. November 26, 2019
honored that you only signed up to comment on my cake and SO glad it all worked out - i was getting nervous as i was reading your recap - yay!!! and so happy to hear you will make it again.
 
Don M. November 18, 2019
This dessert is ridiculous. My wife and two boys loved it. It was very easy. The only modification I made was used 1 tsp of the baking powder and added 1/2 tsp of baking soda. I was able to fit 4 large bananas in the skillet. I simply cut them in half down the bias, putting the cut side down. Extra banana taste!! Will make again and again.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. November 18, 2019
Yay!!! Love that your fam was into it and that it will be on repeat in your home.
 
Tam October 3, 2019
Wow that's a good cake. I followed the recipe exactly, except my bananas must be extra large because I could only fit a little under 3 bananas in the pan. After the cake has been in the oven for about 25 minutes it looked like it may overflow, a little bit of caramel was dripping out. I promptly put the skillet on a large baking sheet to catch any drippings. The cake puffed up to the very top of the pan and no more, only a couple of drops of the caramel overflowed. Baked for the full 40 minutes. After cooling for the indicated 20 minutes I had to cut into it to try. OMG that's delicious. Not too sweet and so incredibly moist. I will be making this cake again.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. October 3, 2019
Yay! So happy to hear this and thanks for sharing the whole baking experience! XO
 
Bea September 17, 2019
I can't wait to make this today for a friend 9f mine. I can't taste it because I'm allergic to bananas. They had asked me for banana bread but I think this will be a nice surprise!
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. September 17, 2019
lovely surprise! and yay! hope your friend enjoys. XO
 
Carolyn May 31, 2019
I am not a baker so not sure if what I did was wrong but I did not have a cast iron so I just put the nine inch cake pan directly on the stove for the carmelization part. It turned our perfectly and this cake is ridiculously moist and delicious. My mother thought it must have been really difficult to make because it looks so fancy but it was so easy!! Thanks so much for this recipe!!
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. May 31, 2019
You are so welcome! and you did nothing wrong and everything right!! So glad you (and your mom) enjoyed. XO
 
mary February 26, 2019
Waooo it is delicious and easy to make. The bad thing about this recipe is that my husband and I have been eating it without stopping :) ! Thanks . Note: I use milk instead of buttermilk.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. February 26, 2019
Yay! Love hearing this. Thanks for sharing.
 
Jasser A. December 12, 2018
This cake is absolutely worth your time. Here are some tips that a beginner like me forgot about and I've learned better for next time:

1. When mixing the brown sugar and butter don't use a high heat. You'll end up with burned caramel.

2. Make sure your skillet is well seasoned so nothing sticks. Even if it says that it's non-stick don't trust that.

3. Before you start, ensure that you have a plate big enough to fit over your skillet. If the plate is any smaller your cake will break up when you flip it. An extra person can really help you flip this successfully.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. December 14, 2018
Thank u doe sharingvthese super helpful tips for beginners and so glad u made and liked the recipe!
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. December 14, 2018
thank you so much for sharing your tips for beginners! super helpful and so glad you made and liked the cake!
 
CM November 27, 2018
5/5 exceeds expectations! Not much work, and very much worth it!!
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. November 27, 2018
Yay! So glad u liked. XO
 
A November 2, 2018
This was incredible. So easy to make and absolutely delicious. We tend to have a lot of overripe bananas on hand, so this will replace half of the banana bread I make. Excited to try your lemon cake next. Thank you!
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. November 2, 2018
Fantastic! So happy you liked it and hope U enjoy my lemon cake, too. Let me know! XO