Introducing the Gluten Free Banana Cake!!! This semi naked cake is a sweet yet mild banana cake that’s loaded with mini chocolate chips, surrounded by a brown sugar buttercream and chocolate ganache. If that wasn’t enough, it’s topped with banana slices drizzled with more ganache and more mini chocolate chips. Oh did I mention it’s also nut free, egg free and easily vegan?! This cake is a must try!
If you love Banana Bread, This Gluten Free Banana Cake is for you! The flavors of the chocolate with the brown sugar and banana all blend beautifully together.
Reasons To Love This Cake
- Allergy Friendly- This cake is gluten free, nut free, egg free and can easily be dairy free (vegan).
- Soft & Fluffy- The cake is super soft and delicious.
- Chocolate- It is filled and topped with chocolate ganache and mini chocolate chips!
- Gluten Free Flour- If you also have nut allergies, make sure to use a brand that’s made in a nut free facility. I really love to use this one because it’s nut safe but it does contain dairy.
- Sugars- You need both granulated and light brown. The light brown will be mixed into the buttercream frosting.
- Cornstarch and Water- This is an eggless cake so this mixture helps bind everything together.
- Milk of choice- If there are no dairy allergies or if you’re not vegan, you can use regular whole milk. For non dairy, use a non dairy milk of your choosing.
- White Vinegar- This will be use to create a homemade buttermilk.
- Bananas- Use 3 medium ripe bananas.
- Chocolate Chips- Make sure to use gluten free, nut free and vegan to keep the cake allergy friendly.
- Chocolate Ganache- To make the ganache vegan, use the ganache recipe from Cookies & Cream Cake.
See my recipe card below for a complete list of the ingredients with measurements.
Substitutions and Variations
How To Make this Vegan
- Use a gluten free flour that’s free from dairy.
- Only use a non dairy milk of choice.
- Make sure to use vegan baking sticks instead of butter.
- Read the label on your chocolate chips to ensure they’re gluten free, nut free and vegan.
- Use a vegan heavy cream or if nuts aren’t an issue, I have used almond breeze almond milk (prior to my nut allergic son being born) and it worked beautifully. OR you can use the ganache recipe from my Cookies & Cream Cake, which is vegan.
This recipe has not been tested with these substitutions and/or variations due to celiac disease and food allergies. If you change any of the ingredients, please let us know how the recipe turned out in the comments below!
Step by Step Instructions with Pictures
Here are the steps to make this cake!
Make The Ganache
Step 1: Place Chocolate Chips in a Heat Safe Bowl
Set them aside.
Step 2: Heat the Heavy Cream
Set the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly.
When it simmers around the edges immediately pour over the chocolate chips.
Step 3: Let it Sit
Do not whisk the heavy cream and chips yet!
Let it sit for one minute and then whisk until combined and smooth.
Step 4: Cool The Ganache
First let it sit on the counter until it has cooled a bit, whisking every 5 min.
Then refrigerate. Continue whisking every 5 min while in the fridge for about 35-45 min until the ganache is thick.
Make the Cake
Step 1: Whisk the Dry Ingredients
In a large bowl, whisk together the gluten free flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until combined.
Step 2: Make The Homemade Buttermilk
In a large measuring cup, measure out ½ cup of milk. Add in ½ tablespoon of the white vinegar and stir. This is your homemade buttermilk.
Step 3: Make The Cornstarch Water
In a small bowl, using a spoon, mix together the cornstarch and water until thin and watery. It will be thick and tacky at first.
Step 4: Melt the Butter/Vegan Baking Stick
In a large bowl that's microwave safe, heat the butter or vegan baking stick in 20 second increments until fully melted.
Step 5: Whisk the Wet Ingredients into the Melted Butter
Whisk the mashed bananas into the melted butter/vegan baking stick.
Then whisk in the cornstarch water mixture, the milk mixture, the oil, the vanilla and the cinnamon until well combined.
Step 6: Add the Sugar to the Wet Ingredients
Whisk the sugar into the wet ingredients until combined.
Step 7: Add Wet Ingredients into the Dry
Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry.
Once the batter gets too thick, use a spatula to combine.
Step 8: Add the Mini Chocolate Chips
Using the spatula, fold the mini chocolate chips into the batter until mixed throughout.
Step 9: Scoop The Batter
Using a spatula, divide the batter equally between two greased and parchment lined 8 inch cake pans; smooth the tops with a butter knife.
Step 10: Bake the Cakes
Bake the cakes in the center rack at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes until slightly springy when carefully touched.
Step 11: Cut The Cakes
Once the cakes have completely cooled, slice the cakes in half horizontally to create 4 thinner layers of cake.
If the tops of your cakes have domes, you can very carefully cut them off to make them flat.
Make The Frosting
Step 1: Cream the Butter and Light Brown Sugar
In the large bowl of an electric mixer or using a hand held mixer, beat the butter or vegan baking stick and the light brown sugar and until smooth and creamy. About 2-3 min.
Step 2: Add in the Other Ingredients Half at a Time
Slowly add in half the confectioners' sugar, half the water and vanilla and beat until smooth.
Then add in the second half of the confectioners' sugar and water. Beat until combined. It should appear creamy and smooth.
Step 3: Divide the Frosting
Divide the frosting into 5 equal servings.
Assembling the Cake
Step 1: Frost One Layer
Place one layer of cake on a cake plate/stand. Scoop ⅕ of the buttercream on top and use an icing spatula to spread it around.
Step 2: Pipe a Ring
Place ⅕ of the frosting in a piping bag. Pipe a ring around the outside edge of the cake. This is to prevent the ganache from spilling out.
Step 3: Spoon the Ganache
Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the thick ganache into the middle of the ring of frosting.
Step 4: Repeat the Process
Place another layer of cake on top and repeat this same process. Do this will 3 layers of cake.
Step 5: Add the Last Cake Layer
Place the last cake bottom (or flat) side up so the top is nice and flat.
Step 6: Frost the Outside of the Cake and Chill
Use an icing spatula to frost the top and a thin layer on the sides and use a cake scraper to neaten the frosting up.
You should only use the final ⅕ of your frosting on both the top and sides combined. It’s a semi naked cake.
Pop the entire cake in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Decorate The Cake
Step 1: Heat the Remaining Ganache
Take the remaining ganache and heat it in the microwave in 5 second increments until it is very melted and pourable.
Step 2: Do the Ganache Drip
Spoon about 9 tablespoons of the liquid ganache on top of the cake.
Push the ganache around to the edges of the cake using an icing spatula. You want it to drip down the sides.
Work quickly; the cold cake will stop the ganache from dripping too much.
Step 3: Add Banana Slices
Cut about 3-4 bananas into slices and place them in a mound in the top center of the cake while the ganache is still wet.
Step 4: Add the Chocolate
Drizzle some extra ganache on top of the banana slices and sprinkle a handful of the mini chocolate chips on top of the bananas.
Step 5: Chill Again
Let the cake chill again uncovered in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Expert Baking Tips
- Mashing the Bananas- In a medium bowl, use the back of a fork or a potato masher to mash all the bananas really well. Once they’re mashed, give them a good whisk. You want them to be liquidy.
- Make the Homemade Buttermilk- Measure out ½ cup of milk of choice. Add in one ½ tablespoon of white vinegar and stir to combine. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes and then stir again. It will appear chunky and that’s normal.
- Smoothing the Batter- Many gluten free flour batters have a way of staying exactly as they are placed, when baked. If you leave it misshapen, that’s how it will remain when baked. When the batter is in the cake pans, gently smooth the tops with a butter knife.
- Make The Ganache First- The ganache needs to set in the fridge for about 45 minutes in order to use it inside the cake. Make the ganache before you begin making the cake so it can chill while the cake is baking.
If the frosting appears too thick, add more water ¼ teaspoon at a time until you get the desired consistency.
If the frosting appears too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the desired consistency.
To make the ring to hold the ganache in place in the center of the cake, place the frosting in a zip top bag. Then snip one of the corners off.
Most gluten free baked goods are best made the same day, but you can make this cake the night before.
If making the night before, keep the cake in the fridge under a dome or very carefully wrapped in foil.
Storing and Freezing
Since gluten free and eggless baked goods are best the first day, we want to try to keep this Gluten Free Banana Cake as fresh as possible.
Once the cake is cut into, if there is extra, it’s best to cut the entire cake into slices, wrap each slice in foil and store in a zip top bag in the fridge.
This is if you will be eating all the slices the next day.
When ready to eat, let the slices sit on the counter, in the foil for about an hour or until the cake is room temperature and soft.
Or pop each unwrapped slice in the microwave for 5-10 seconds.
If not eating all the extra slices the next day, take the slices wrapped in foil and in the zip top bag and freeze them.
You can keep the slices frozen for up to 30 days.
When ready to eat, put the slices in the fridge the night before or leave them out on the counter for 2 hours prior to eating or until the cake is room temperature and soft.
Or pop each room temperature unwrapped slice in the microwave for 5-10 seconds.
Other Cake Recipes You'll Love
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Gluten Free Banana Cake
For the cake:
- 2.5 cups gluten free flour
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 ripe bananas mashed
- 4 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 6 tablespoons of water
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter or vegan baking stick melted
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup milk of choice
- ½ tablespoon white vinegar
- 1.5 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract yes tablespoon
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
For the frosting:
- 2 sticks 1 cup unsalted butter or vegan baking sticks, room temperature
- ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
- 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the ganache:
- 12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream* see note
For the top decoration (if desired):
- 3-4 bananas sliced
- Extra ganache for drizzling
- ¼ cup mini chocolate chips for sprinkling
Make The Ganache
- Place the chocolate chips in a heat safe bowl. Place heavy cream in a pan on the stove over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the edges begin to simmer.
- Immediately pour on top of chips and do NOT mix! Let sit 1-2 min then whisk until fully combined and smooth.
- Let ganache sit on the counter for 15 min, whisking every 5 min. Then transfer the bowl of ganache to the fridge and whisk every 5 min for about 35-45 min until it has a nice thick consistency.
For The Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease two 8 inch cake pans with vegetable oil, line with parchment paper and lightly grease again. Set aside.
- Peel and mash your bananas in a medium bowl. You want them to be nice and liquidy. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the gluten free flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- Measure out ½ cup milk of choice. Add in ½ tablespoon white vinegar to the milk and stir with a spoon to combine. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, using a spoon, mix together the cornstarch and water until it is thin and watery. It will be thick and tacky at first. Set aside.
- In another large bowl that’s microwave safe, heat the butter or vegan baking stick in 20 second increments until fully melted. Set aside.
- Stir the milk vinegar mixture. At this point it should be chunky and that’s normal.
- Whisk the mashed bananas into the melted butter until combined. Then whisk in the cornstarch water mixture, the milk mixture, the oil, the vanilla and the cinnamon until well combined.
- Add in the sugar and whisk again until combined.
- Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry. Once it gets thick, use a spatula to combine.
- Fold in the mini chocolate chips until mixed throughout.
- Evenly scoop the batter into the two lined cake pans and make sure to use a butter knife to smooth the tops.
- Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 35 min. Take out and let cool in cake pans. Once cool, remove from pans and place cakes on cooling racks.
Make The Frosting
- Beat the butter or vegan baking stick and the brown sugar until smooth and creamy. About 2-3 minutes.
- Slowly beat in the confectioners’ sugar, water and vanilla until fully combined. Separate into 5 equal servings.
Assemble The Cake
- Cut the two 8 inch layers in half horizontally so you have 4 thin layers of cake.
- Place one layer on the bottom of the cake plate. Place one serving of frosting in a piping bag or a zip top bag with the corner cut off. Frost the top and then pipe a ridge around the top when done.
- Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the thick ganache into the middle of the ring of frosting.
- Place another layer of cake on top and repeat this same process. Do this with 3 layers of cake.
- Once you get to the top layer, use an icing spatula to frost the top and a thin layer on the sides. This will be a semi naked cake. Use a cake scraper or a large icing spatula to scrape the icing off the sides so it’s a super thin layer. You should have hardly any frosting left. Pop the entire cake in the fridge uncovered for 15 min so it is more stable to work with.
- Take your remaining ganache and heat it in the microwave in 5 second increments until it is very melted and pourable.
- Spoon about 9 tablespoons of the liquid ganache on top of the cake. Take an icing spatula and push the ganache around to the edges of the cake so it drips down the sides.
- If desired, cut about 3-4 bananas into slices and place in a mound in the top center of the cake while the ganache is wet. Drizzle some extra ganache on top of the banana slices and sprinkle a handful of the mini chocolate chips on top of the bananas. Let cake harden again in the fridge, uncovered for 15 minutes.