Banana Upside Down Cake


I have a parrot, actually an umbrella cockatoo, named Moti. Moti is twenty-seven years old and quite the diva, especially about her food. In Moti’s world there is no sunshine if she doesn’t find a half a banana in her food dish each morning. Moti is quite a foodie, too. She holds the banana in her claw with the cut side up and puts pieces of her other food on top of the banana so that she can mix the foods together as she eats.  Smart Moti.

Bananas are a very healthy part of any diet–human or avian. They are low in calories at approximately 110 calories per banana. They are fat free. A banana gives you 18% of your body’s daily requirement for potassium and 15% of your Vitamin C.  Interestingly, bananas are also rich in tryptophan, that mood-elevating neuro transmitter that can also help you fall asleep. What’s not to love?

Try as we may, though, Moti and I can’t seem to keep up with the bananas in our fruit bowl. We always seem to have some disgusting overripe ones. We can only eat so much banana bread (another of Moti’s fav foods–especially baked with lots of walnuts). What to do?

I recently saw this banana upside down cake recipe on David Lebovitz’ blog and I knew that I had to try it. It didn’t disappoint. It is rich and beautiful– a cinnamon and vanilla flavored cake underneath a very pretty caramelized banana crown.

By the way, bananas are the fourth largest fruit crop in the world (after grapes, citrus fruit and apples). Per capita, Americans consume an average of twenty-seven pounds of bananas each year. Whoa! That’s a lot of bananas.

Here is your banana trivia question for the day. Is a banana (a) a legume (b) a berry ( c) a grain (d) a nut?  You got it right if you chose answer “b.” Bananas are the seedless berries of a tree-sized herbaceous plant commonly, and incorrectly, referred to as a banana tree.

Trivia question number 2: Is a bunch of bananas referred to as (a) a hand  (b) a finger  ( c) a foot  (d) an elbow? Count yourself correct if you answered (a) a hand. The individual bananas are called “fingers.” I knew you would find that fascinating.

Trivia question number 3: Banana peels can be used for which of the following purposes? (a) polishing your shoes (b) rubbing on your forehead to relieve a headache ( c) fertilizing your roses (d) all of the above. The correct answer, according to the banana experts, is (d). Who knew?

You will find a link to Lebovitz’ blog at the end of this post.

Yields 10-12 servings

Banana Upside Down Cake

30 minPrep Time

30 minCook Time

1 hrTotal Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe


  • For the banana topping
  • 4 T. (55 g) butter (salted)
  • 1/2 C plus 2 T. (110g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean (split lengthwise and seeds scraped)
  • 1 T. rum
  • 4-5 medium bananas (about 1 1/4 pounds or 565 g)
  • For the cake
  • 1 1/2 C. (175 g) all purpose flour (sifted)
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 8 T. (4 ounces or 115g) unsalted butter (cubed and at room temperature)
  • 3/4 C. (150g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1/2 C. (125 ml) whole or low fat milk (at room temperature)
  • 1 t. vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. For the topping
  3. Heat 4 T. (55g) butter, brown sugar and vanilla seeds in a 10-inch cast iron skillet on top of your stove.Stir this mixture constantly until the ingredients are well mixed, liquified and beginning to bubble. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the rum and the split vanilla bean.
  4. Peel the bananas and cut them lengthwise. Then, cut each banana piece into thirds lengthwise. . You will have long slender banana pieces. It is not a problem if some of the banana pieces break, Carefully arrange the banana slices on top of the brown sugar mixture in the skillet.
  5. For the cake
  6. Sift the flour into a large bowl and whisk baking powder, salt and cinnamon into the flour. Set this mixture aside.
  7. Attach your paddle attachment to your stand mixer and beat the butter and the granulated sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl between additions.
  8. Turn your mixer to its slow speed and add half the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture. Add the milk and the vanilla. Add the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix these ingredients only until they are just incorporated. You need to be careful not to overmix or your cake will not be tender.
  9. Pour the batter into the skilled and on top of the brown sugar and banana mixture you have prepared.
  10. Bake cake for 30 to 35 minutes. When the cake is done, a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake will come out clean. Also, the cake should be firm to your touch when it is done.
  11. Cool cake in the pan on a rack for ten minutes. Then, run a knife around the edge of the cooled cake. Invert the cake over a large serving plate. (Be careful when you do this. You don't want hot caramel on your hands.)


My cake was prettiest on the day it was baked. On day two, the bananas began to darken.


Here is a link to David Lebovitz’ blog and to the original recipe:

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