Banana cake layers flavored with both fresh and instant coffee – all wrapped up in a simple cake with a dairy-free coffee buttercream! A cozy slice of this Coffee Banana Cake will go perfectly with your favorite cup of hot coffee!
Coffee Banana Layer Cake
This easy Coffee Banana Cake is like a dressed up version of my favorite banana bread: 2 layers of perfectly moist, coffee-flavored banana “cake” with loads of coffee buttercream. It’s the perfect dessert to save those brown bananas from being thrown into the trash bin. Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s constantly shuffling too-ripe bananas from the counter to the freezer in hopes that I’ll utilized them in a smoothie or banana loaf (real talk, I have a literal bunch of near-black bananas in my freezer currently. Plus a couple more.).
With a few staple ingredients, like bananas, coffee, flour, eggs, and powdered sugar, you’ll have a beautiful and unique cake to serve any way you’d like. And it all comes together quite easily. The batter mixes up like muffins or a quick loaf, and the buttercream frosting is a mix of standard ingredients with the addition of plant-based butter (in place of butter) if you’re dairy-free. Decorate the cake however tickles your fancy (or will impress your friends and family) and enjoy!
Some of the Ingredients You’ll Need + Substitutions:
- All-purpose flour (I like to use unbleached) can be replaced with a 50:50 mix of whole wheat + AP flour or white whole wheat + AP flour. You can also make this cake with whole wheat pastry flour to make it extra fluffy (this is one of my fave flours!).
- Granulated sugar is necessary, and I recommend coconut sugar, raw cane sugar, or white, granulated cane sugar. Brown sugar will probably work, too.
- Eggs bind the cake, but if you’re looking for an egg-less recipe, flax egg should work in place of the eggs. 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 3 Tbsp warm water = 1 flax egg (so you’ll need 3 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 9 Tbsp warm water).
- Coffee in two forms: fresh brewed and instant coffee granules for maximum flavor. If you can only use 1 kind of coffee, go for the granules as the concentration of flavor is necessary for this recipe! You can use the instant coffee to make coffee OR you can use plant-based milk in place of the fresh brewed coffee.
- Oil adds moisture, and I recommend avocado oil or light olive oil for this recipe. You can also use melted coconut oil or vegetable oil.
- Plant-based butter makes up the frosting. If you aren’t dairy-free, regular butter will work, too.
- Vegetable shortening stiffens the plant-based frosting. Feel free to use more plant-based butter (or regular butter) in its place, but you may need more powdered sugar/less liquid coffee for the frosting.
- Powdered sugar is necessary for that classic buttercream texture and flavor. I don’t recommend any substitutes.
Banana Coffee Cake
- 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 3/4 cup sugar (coconut, raw cane, or regular cane sugar)
- 3 large eggs, room temp
- 1/2 cup strong coffee
- 3 Tbsp instant coffee granules
- 5 Tbsp oil (I used light olive oil)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (3-4 medium bananas)
- 1 1/2 cups plant-based butter, stick form, softened
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (or more plant-based butter)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup strong coffee, cooled
- 1 Tbsp instant coffee granules
- ~6 cups powdered sugar
Make the Cake
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and bring your eggs to room temperature by placing them in a glass of warm water for around 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare two 8" cake pans with non-stick spray and parchment paper circles. I like to spray the pans, lay the parchment circles in the bottoms, and then spray the parchment.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, coffee, instant coffee, oil, vanilla, and mashed banana until everything is totally combined. Add liquid ingredients to dry and gently mix until no flour pockets remain - be careful not to over-mix the batter.
- Divide the batter evenly into the two prepared cake pans (it's best to use a kitchen scale here for precision). Tap the pans on your counter to even out the batter.
- Bake cakes at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Then turn each cake out onto a cooling rack and remove and toss out the parchment paper circles. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.
Make the Frosting + Build the Cake
- Once the cakes are totally cooled, you can make the frosting. In a medium bowl, beat together the softened vegan butter and vegetable shortening. Beat in the vanilla extract and instant coffee granules.
- Add half of the powdered sugar and beat. Then beat in the 1/4 cup of coffee. Continue adding powdered sugar until the frosting forms. You may need to add a little more or less powdered sugar depending on how your frosting is coming together. You want the frosting to be smooth and spreadable but also thick enough to hold its shape.
- Frost the cake by placing one cake, right-side up, on a cake stand or plate. Add roughly 12 Tbsp or 3/4 cup of frosting to the top of the cake and spread evenly across the cake surface, leaving 1/4" of cake around the edge.
- Place the second cake layer on top, right-side down so that the flat, smooth bottom is facing up. Begin adding frosting to the side of the cake where the two layers meet, generously filling in the gap. Then continue frosting the cake all the way around and on top, swirling as you go along (or smoothing with a bench scraper).
- Decorate the cake however you'd like, or simply swirl the frosting for that classic, home-baked look.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator if your storage area is warm.
- To keep your cake stand or plate clean while frosting the cake, cut large parchment paper triangles and gently slide/shimmy them under the cake until the stand/plate is covered (see photos above)