I’m beginning to wonder if I am bad at relaxing. Or maybe relaxing for me looks different than it does for other people? I am still sorting it out, but for the moment, a big, thick slice of Banana Bundt Cake with cream cheese frosting seems like an ideal way to unwind.
As much as I love the idea of spending an entire weekend in sweatpants watching Netflix, judging by how this Tuesday night went down, I don’t think I’d actually feel relaxed by the end of it. Ben was working late, so I decided to pick a girly show to enjoy with my pup, a glass of wine, and (in the spirit of full disclosure) a cup of store-bought chocolate pudding. Answer: ROYAL SUCCESSION. I started both The Tudors and The Crown, only to end both after 20 minutes when I realized that I’d been thinking about reorganizing my office, instead of complexities of birth order. I had no clue what was going on, felt a dire need to purchase storage shelves, and was unquestionably more stressed than relaxed. I don’t think that’s a normal reaction to an Elizabethan drama.
I turned off the TV, went into my kitchen, and prepped a new blog recipe. I felt productive, which somehow made me feel relaxed. I had one less thing to do in the morning, and while I didn’t get as much sleep as I should have, I felt less antsy than I had resting on my couch.
I realize that if I’m going to live a more balanced life, I need find activities aside from crossing off my to-dos that help me wind down in the evening. While there are certainly TV shows that Ben and I have loved watching together, I wouldn’t exactly describe them as “relaxing” (e.g. Breaking Bad, which while excellent, nearly put me into cardiac arrest with every episode). I’d also like to find relaxing activities I enjoy on my own. They don’t need to be TV, but coping with this need of mine to “do, do, do” is going to be a longer-term project. For the moment, I feel fortunate that one of the things that does help me relax—cooking and baking—also ties into my work.
About This Banana Bundt Cake
I baked this Banana Bundt Cake on a similar quiet night at home, when I had a big pile of overly ripe bananas tempting me with their delicious possibilities. Knowing Easter was coming up, I decided to bake a great big beautiful cake that could star at any holiday brunch but was also simple enough to make for a cozy dinner party. You can also bake it just because. Even without a specific event on your agenda, a slice of Banana Bundt Cake enjoyed around 3 p.m. is guaranteed to help you power through the rest of your afternoon.
Banana Bundt Cake is old fashioned and unfussy, which is exactly why I love it. It’s the sort of homey dessert that you’re more likely to find on grandma’s counter than in a fancy bakeshop window, which I am prepared to argue is the best sort of dessert of all. It’s exceptionally moist, timeless, and comforting.
To make the Banana Bundt Cake a little extra special, I added orange zest, and I also mixed real vanilla bean paste into the cream cheese frosting. HEAVENLY. I’ll leave the orange zest as optional, but if you can swing for vanilla bean paste, it’s a worthy splurge. Plus, the vanilla bean specks just look so pretty in the cream cheese frosting, don’t they?
For those attuned to my healthy baking ways, this Banana Bundt Cake is definitely a cake. It’s not a healthy banana bread recipe masquerading as dessert. Although I do adore my banana baked goods (reference: Banana Oatmeal Cookies, Banana Coconut Cake, Banana Oatmeal Muffins, etc.), I wanted this Banana Bundt Cake recipe to feel like a true treat, and it does.
Although the recipe contains a decent amount of butter (necessary for flavor and texture), I did take steps to make it a healthy banana bundt cake without sacrificing taste. The recipe uses a full cup of Greek yogurt, which is high in protein and makes the Banana Bundt Cake extra moist without adding any additional fat. The recipe is also made with whole wheat flour, which I guarantee no one will suspect, but everyone will appreciate, particularly when they reach for a second slice.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
- To Make Ahead. This cake tastes even better the next day! If time allows, wrap the unfrosted cake in plastic and let it sit overnight at room temperature. Frost the next day.
- To Store. Store leftovers loosely wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
- To Freeze. Place cake in the freezer either frosted or unfrosted, for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.
I hope you all have a relaxing Easter weekend, whatever “relaxing” looks like to you. I’m still not sure of our plans, but I do know that at least one day will find me back in my kitchen, baking something sweet and homey like this Banana Bundt Cake.
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Best bundt pan ever (seriously NOTHING sticks to this baby)
- Baking spray
- Potato masher (which also works very well for bananas!)
Banana Bundt Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
FOR THE BANANA BUNDT CAKE:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 orange optional
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 4 large/medium very ripe bananas mashed (1 1/2–1 ¾ cups)
- 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt plus 2 tablespoons, at room temperature
FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
- 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese at room temperature (do not use fat free)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or extract
- Pinch kosher salt
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 9- to 10-inch (12-cup) bundt pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, baking soda, and kosher salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat at medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 additional minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla and orange zest. Scrape down the bowl, then add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each egg is added. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the mashed bananas. With the mixer still on low, add half of the dry ingredients (the mixture may look curdled), mixing just until combined, then all of the yogurt, and then the rest of the flour mixture. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, then tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any of the bubbles. Smooth the top.
- Place the pan directly on the oven rack (do not use a baking sheet) and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean (the baking time can vary based on the moisture content of your bananas, so be sure to check it early to ensure it doesn't overbake, and don't be afraid to go a few minutes longer if the knife is not yet coming out clean). Check the cake at the 30-minute mark; if it is browning too quickly, tent it loosely with foil. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then gently unmold it onto the rack to cool completely. If you have time, wrap the cooled cake in plastic and allow it to sit overnight before serving—it's even better the next day.
- For the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth and combined, about 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Gradually add the powdered sugar, then the vanilla bean paste and salt. Increase the speed to high, and continue beating until completely smooth and combined. Frost the cooled cake.
- This cake tastes even better the next day! If time allows, wrap the unfrosted cake in plastic and let it sit overnight at room temperature. Frost the next day.
- Store leftovers loosely wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or freeze, either frosted or unfrosted, for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.
- Bake as muffins: Prepare half of the batter. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin. Bake at 350 degrees F for 28 to 32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
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