Moist and fruity Gluten Free Banana Layer Cake, decorated to create a decadent, showstopper celebration cake that will turn heads and win hearts. Optional dairy free.
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Originally posted 3rd December 2018. Updated 16th September 2022
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A Gluten Free Banana Layer Cake perfect for a celebration
If you’re looking for a decadent show-stopper, my Gluten Free Banana Layer Cake may be just the thing. Because everyone loves a banana cake… right? And when you add silky real chocolate buttercream, shiny drips of dark chocolate ganache hung with funky chocolate hearts, and topped with pretty piping, broken cigarillos and chopped, crunchy banana chips you’re on to a serious winner. Honestly… The banana-chocolate combo never fails to impress the taste buds… But dressed to impress, it will also turn heads.
I confess that this three-layered stunner first appeared on the blog back in 2018. Made for hubby’s birthday it was exceptionally memorable. And I have every confidence that should you make it too, my Gluten Free Banana Cake will lodge itself in your gluten free baking archives as one of the best. In fact… I am so confident, I’ll go as far as to say you can (and should) make it for people who are not gluten free… Because it’s so delicious, they’ll never EVER know it’s for ‘special’ people like us!
A recipe for Gluten Free Banana Sponge… Tried and Tested and rated ‘The BEST’
The banana sponge used to make this cake is a version of my Gluten Free Banana Bread recipe… A recipe that (according to wheat-eaters) is the BEST Banana Bread EVER.
Because it’s so good, it has appeared in other recipes on the blog… It’s exceptionally versatile… So has also been used to make my epic layered Banoffee Cake, been turned into Banoffee Cupcakes and used as a sponge base for my utterly divine Banoffee Trifle. I admit, there may be a bit of a theme there. But with a gluten free banana cake recipe that shows no faults, it would be a shame not to indulge.
Making Banana Cake with roasted bananas… why and how…
Using ROASTED bananas to make a Roasted Banana Cake (or bread) is a game-changer. It’s the easiest and best trick I know to guarantee the most phenomenal flavour. Even better… It ensures banana intensity no matter how ripe the bananas are… be it just starting to ripen or ‘on the turn’. Seriously. If you have never tried it, give it a go…
How do you roast bananas? It’s simple! Just pop them on a baking tray (completely unpeeled and in their sealed skins) and roast them in a medium to hot oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until the skins turn black. Leave to cool in the skins and then peel and use the roasted flesh.
Can I make this Gluten Free Banana Cake without roasting the bananas?
Yes! If you can’t be bothered to roast your bananas (although you’d be mad not to give it a go), you can still make the most incredible gluten free banana cake that will have people talking.
Just make sure the bananas are super-ripe for the best sweetness and banana flavour.
Making a gluten free banana-chocolate celebration cake… Easy or not?
While it may not be the quickest cake to pull together turning the sponge into a spectacular celebration cake is not particularly tricky either. And if you want a show-stopper that will drop jaws, it’s more than worth the effort.
While the sponge is pretty straightforward (and has served me well for years), I honestly don’t rate myself as much of a cake decorator. But with patience, a few basic tools (piping bags and nozzles, a cake scraper and a palette knife) and a willingness to experiment, you can pimp up pretty much anything.
Of course, if you want something simpler, then a layered banana sponge cake is perfect ‘naked’, slathered with a simple filling of buttercream (chocolate or not).
Is this celebration cake safe for people with Coeliac Disease?
Of course, it’s important to remember to check labels for any hidden gluten or ‘may contain’ warnings. People who have Coeliac Disease or who have a gluten-related health condition or allergy are very sensitive to the smallest traces of gluten. If you are new to label-checking and cross-contamination, head over to my page ‘Coeliac Disease + Food’ and have a read.
Can this Gluten Free Banana Cake also be made dairy free?
Yes. It’s possible to make some simple switches for a dairy free-gluten free banana layer cake.
The Banana sponge is easy to adapt… Simply sub the dairy butter for a good block dairy free alternative (such as Stork or Flora vegan baking blocks). And switch the buttermilk/yoghurt for a dairy free option (of the runnier type).
The chocolate buttercream, ganache and hearts can be made using good dairy free butter, dark chocolate and liquid cream (of any variety) respectively. And the choice of decoration is flexible.
Tips for making my showstopper Gluten Free Banana Layer Cake with chocolate decoration…
The ingredients used to make the gluten free banana sponge
I’ve covered this in my post on Gluten Free Banana Bread. So if you want to know why it’s important to use the ingredients listed, head over and read about it there.
Tips for making the chocolate decorations (hearts or not)
Like I said… I’m not a cake decorator! And cool or not… if I can make chocolate hearts, anyone can.
All you need is to follow the basic chocolate melting instructions in the recipe (which is the simplest way to ‘temper’ that I know). Then use something to help you ‘pipe’ the chocolate into shapes… The key equipment needed is: a Food thermometer with a spiked probe; non-stick Baking Paper; a Decopen or a Fine Tipped Squeezy Bottle.
- Make sure you work quickly so that the chocolate is good and runny when piping.
- Pipe onto good quality non-stick baking paper (so that the chocolate shapes are easy to remove).
- Squeeze gently and slowly either freehand or using a template placed under the baking paper.
- Make more than you need (I guarantee some will get broken (or eaten)).
- Allow the chocolate shapes to cool completely (chill if necessary) before removing from the paper.
Tips for making the chocolate buttercream
Making real chocolate buttercream to layer and cover your gluten free banana cake is pretty easy. But if you usually use powdered cocoa to make yours, ditch it for now! Adding melted chocolate makes not only for a more rich chocolate flavour, but adds stability to the buttercream too. Here are my tips to deliciousness…
- Melt the chocolate very slowly and make sure absolutely NO other liquid gets into the bowl while it’s melting. Melt too quick and the chocolate may burn and lock solid… Any extra moisture in the bowl and the chocolate will seize. There’s no coming back from either!
- Use softened butter and whisk it well to lighten it (using an electric whisk) before adding any other ingredients. This will ensure the silkiest, fluffiest buttercream.
- Sift the icing sugar to make sure there are no lumps and whisk in slowly and a little at a time to avoid an icing sugar cloud in the kitchen.
- Beat well after all the ingredients have been added, scraping down the bowl a couple of times to ensure the final buttercream is consistent and sumptuous.
Tips for making the chocolate ganache
While chocolate ganache is most definitely an ‘extra’, you have to admit, it takes my layered gluten free banana cake to a better level. Again, making chocolate ganache is not hard, but it can be prone to splitting. To avoid this:
- Chop the chocolate finely so that it has the best chance of melting quickly.
- Do NOT boil the cream… Heat only to the point of ‘just about to simmer’… when bubbles are just forming around the edges of the pan.
- Make sure the hot cream completely covers the chocolate in the bowl (poke the chocolate down if it doesn’t).
- Leave to stand without touching for 5 to 10 minutes so that the chocolate can melt naturally with the initial heat of the cream as it dribbles through.
- Stir GENTLY until the chocolate is fully melted and the two come together as one gorgeously shiny, smooth paste. Too rough and the ganache is more likely to split.
- Cool at room temperature if possible (it gives better control), gently stirring from time to time to keep an even consistency.
Tips for decorating a chocolate-banana cake
There’s no requirement for ‘fancy decoration’ on your gluten free banana cake. The sponge is perfect for dressing up or down as you wish. But, here’s some basic advice based on what I have learned…
- For a banana cake that looks better than mine, make it level. I’ll be honest… I never level my cakes, but it will look neater. I found a post on how to level cakes that might help.
- When coating the cake in buttercream, give it a crumb coat first. Then let it harden in the fridge before adding a thicker layer. This will offer the cake a better external structure for decorating.
- Use an angled palette knife and cake scraper when applying both the crumb coat and top icing. It’s easier and tidier.
- Chill the cake once fully ‘buttercreamed’ to set it before adding ganache. This will ensure the two don’t end up mixing together.
- As it cools, check the ganache frequently, to ‘catch it’ at the right consistency to drip effectively. Too loose and it will run completely down the sides of the cake. Too thick and it won’t drip at all. Test on the side of the bowl if unsure.
- Use a squeezy decorating bottle to apply the drips and top coat to the cake. Start by applying drips around the edge, and then ‘fill in’ the top. I spiral from the outer edge into the centre, which gives a circular feel to the decoration. This Drip Cake Guide from the Baking Explorer may help.
- Choose your style and plan how you want to decorate the top of the banana cake before you start. Draw your ideas on a piece of paper as a guide. And remember… It doesn’t need to be perfect.
How to store your Gluten Free Banana Cake
While you may ‘set’ the decorations on the cake in the fridge, my gluten free banana cake can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container. If you haven’t got one already, I recommend investing in a large round Cake Carrier or height-adjustable cake carrier for effective large cake storage.
Providing the air temperature isn’t warm and sweaty, banana cake will keep for 3 to 4 days. If keeping for longer, store in the fridge and bring to room temperature before eating (to ensure optimum sponge texture). The observant will note that I (stupidly) photographed the cake straight from the fridge and thus it still has condensation on the outside. This will dry if left for an hour or so.
Got more questions about Gluten Free Banana Cake?
The recipe for my Gluten Free Banana Layer Cake is at the bottom of this post… If you have any other questions, feel free to get in touch. You can do this by leaving a comment, by email, or through social media. You’ll find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter (#glutenfreealchemist).
For all our other large and celebration cakes, head over to our Gluten Free Cake Recipes Index. We have everything from the PERFECT ‘go to’ Gluten Free Chocolate Cake and Vanilla Cake… through a Victoria Sandwich, Orange Cake, Funfetti Cake and my epically popular Gluten Free Coffee and Walnut Cake. And lots more besides.
For everything else? Our Gluten Free Recipe Index will get you started on your gluten free journey…
All shared for free with my love to the gluten free community.
Other perfect Gluten Free Celebration Cakes that will turn heads…
Gluten Free Banana Cake (with Roasted Banana and Chocolate Buttercream))
- three 8 inch or 9 inch round non-stick baking tins (for a three-layer cake)
- microwave or hob and saucepan
- cake decorating tools as required
Roasted Banana Sponge
- 315 g gluten free plain flour eg GFA Blend A or B (see NOTES) or use an alternative well-balanced gluten free flour blend
- 150 g ground almonds (almond meal)
- 1½ tsp xanthan gum
- 2 tsp baking powder gluten free
- 1¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 150 g unsalted butter (or dairy free alternative) softened
- 225 g caster sugar preferably golden caster sugar
- 185 g soft light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs At room temperature (UK large = Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’) – Lightly Beaten
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 medium bananas unpeeled – roasted (see instructions) EACH banana should weigh in the region of 160g (in skin) NOTE: Can be made with very ripe, un-roasted bananas if preferred
- 260 ml buttermilk or standard plain yoghurt See NOTES (important) – Dairy free as required
Chocolate Heart Decorations
- 125 g good quality dark chocolate chopped (dairy free as required)
- 175 g good quality dark chocolate cut into small pieces (dairy free as required)
- 280 g unsalted butter or dairy free alternative softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 250 g icing sugar sifted (confectioners/powdered sugar)
- 200 g good quality dark chocolate chopped (or callets) (dairy free as required)
- 150 ml double cream (heavy cream) (or dairy free alternative)
- a few broken chocolate cigarillos (or alternative chocolate decoration of choice)
- chopped dried banana chips optional
Roast the bananas (ahead if possible)
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Place the bananas in their skins on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.
- Roast until the skins are turning black (about 20 minutes).
- Leave to cool in the skins.
Banana Sponge Cakes
- Base line the non-stick cake tins (8 inch) with baking paper.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Weigh and mix together the flour, almonds, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt, making sure any lumps are broken down. (TIP: weigh into a large airtight container and shake vigorously). Set aside.
- Using an electric whisk, cream together the butter and sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
- In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork and then add, a little at a time, to the butter-sugar mix, whisking well after each addition.
- Add and beat in the vanilla extract.
- Remove the banana flesh from the blackened skins and mash with a fork before gently folding into the wet mixture.
- Using a large spoon or spatula, gently fold in the buttermilk/yoghurt alternately with the dry mix about a third at a time, ensuring all the ingredients are JUST combined. Do not over-mix. (IMPORTANT: See Notes below re the gradual adding of buttermilk/yoghurt if using larger bananas).
- Divide the batter evenly between the cake tins and smooth the tops with the back of a spoon.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and the top springs back to the touch.
- Leave to cool in the tins for 5 to 10 minutes, before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.
Chocolate Heart Decorations
- Line a couple of trays with non stick baking paper and set aside.
- Chop all the chocolate and weigh 80g into a microwaveable/heatproof (Pyrex glass) bowl.
- Using either the microwave (at 30 second bursts, lessening as the chocolate temperature increases) or placing the bowl over a pan of JUST simmering water, melt and heat the 80g chocolate to 40 C/104 F, stirring frequently.
- Remove from the heat immediately and add the rest of the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth.
- Pour the chocolate into a decorating bottle and working quickly, pipe small hearts and spots onto the baking paper.
- Leave to set at room temperature.
- Place the chocolate in a heatproof (Pyrex) bowl and melt either in the microwave (medium setting at 30 second bursts, stirring between each) or over a saucepan of gently simmering water, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the softened butter, vanilla extract and icing sugar using an electric whisk until smooth.
- Add the cooled, melted chocolate and continue to beat until thick and creamy.
Chocolate Ganache (make when ready to decorate the cake)
- Place the chopped chocolate into a medium heat-proof bowl and set aside.
- Pour the cream into a small saucepan and gently heat until almost simmering (when bubbles start to form around the sides of the pan).
- Remove from the heat immediately and pour onto the chocolate. Poke the chocolate if necessary so that it is below the surface of the cream.
- Allow to sit for 3 to 4 minutes and then gently stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth.
- Allow the ganache to cool at room temperature, stirring intermittently until it reaches drip consistency.
Putting it all together
- Wrap and chill the sponges in the fridge for a couple of hours to give stability when decorating.
- Layer the sponges with chocolate butter icing.
- Give the sides a crumb-coat of buttercream (a thin layer scraped with a cake scraper) and then chill for half hour or so to 'set'.
- Completely coat the cake with a full layer of buttercream, using a palette knife to coat and a cake scraper to smooth into a thin, even layer.
- Chill the coated cake in the fridge to cool and stabilise the buttercream before the next stage.
- When the ganache has reached ‘drip’ consistency, pour into a decorating bottle (or alternatively use a spoon) and carefully create a ‘rim’ of ganache around the outside edge of the cake, encouraging small drips down the sides. If the drips ‘run’ too fast, leave the ganache to thicken a little more.
- Once the drips are complete, move to the centre of the cake and gradually squeeze ganache in a continuous swirl (or drip and spread with the spoon) until the top of the cake is covered.
- Take the chocolate hearts and stick to the base of the ganache drips so that they look like they are hanging. (If they do not stick easily, put a small spot of ganache on the back of each before fixing).
- Stick the chocolate dots randomly onto the buttercream sides.
- To finish the cake off, use the remaining buttercream and ganache (for contrast, whip the remaining ganache to make it lighter) and pipe onto the top of the cake.
- Use broken chocolate cigarillos of different lengths (or other chocolate decorations) and stick into the surface of the cake between the piping.
- Sprinkle with (optional) chopped banana chips.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist