Our banana upside down cake has gooey caramel, sliced bananas, with a super moist buttermilk banana cake, all topped off with a light and tangy cream cheese frosting drizzled over top. This easy banana cake is sure to be one of your new favorite sheet cake recipes!
What makes this an upside down cake?
Our banana upside down cake is the most delicious cousin of the well-known pineapple upside down cake, or even a peach upside down cake! With this cake we layer the caramel in the bottom of the pan, followed by the sliced bananas, and then topped off with a super moist, buttermilk banana cake. After this whole cake is baked, we take the cake and flip it upside down! Then the caramel and bananas are on top and the banana sheet cake is on the bottom.
How to arrange your bananas in the bottom of the pan 2 different ways:
How you arrange your bananas in the bottom of your pan is totally up to you! Each way gives the cake a slightly different look, but won’t affect the flavor in the slightest. If you choose the first way, you will end up with some thicker chunks of banana, but with them less evenly dispersed over the cake top.
When selecting your bananas for arranging in the caramel, make sure your bananas aren’t too ripe. If they’re mushy they will not hold up well when being baked. Save the mushy and ripe bananas for making the cake portion of this recipe!
Tip: Make sure you have your bananas sliced and ready to go before you make your caramel. If the caramel sits and starts to cool it will start to set up and your bananas won’t be able to peek through the caramel when you flip it over.
Slice them in half long ways
Take your two bananas and slice them down the middle long ways. Then, place them middle side down (rounded side up) in the caramel. I like to arrange them slightly off center from each other, like shown in the picture. It makes them prettier!
Slice them in coins
Slice your two bananas into thin coins and arrange them side-by-side in the caramel. This will give you a little banana in each bite!
Making the caramel
Making the caramel for the upside down portion of this cake is super easy! We take butter, brown sugar and a bit of salt and bring it all to a boil. The trick with this caramel is to not let it boil for too long, if you boil it for too long the caramel will start to crystallize. However, if it does crystallize, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. As long as the caramel isn’t burned, I’d still use it. The banana upside down cake will taste just as delicious either way.
Will the caramel stick the bottom of the pan?
If you make this cake correctly it shouldn’t stick! But if you’re worried about it or want to guarantee the cake comes out smoothly, you can line your cake pan with cooking spray and parchment paper. Then when you flip your cake upside down after it’s all baked you can simply peel off your parchment paper from the caramel and bananas smoothly!
Does this cake need the cream cheese frosting drizzle?
The cream cheese glaze is totally optional! This cake is plenty moist and sweet without the cream cheese glaze, but I do love the tang the cream cheese glaze adds to this banana upside down cake!
Buttermilk and Buttermilk Substitutions
If you’ve read a lot of my posts before, you may have already heard my spiel about buttermilk and buttermilk substitutions, but it never hurts to hear it again!
You may have noticed that I love using buttermilk in my baking. I will always say that using real buttermilk is BEST! However, I completely understand that you may not have time to run to the store to get buttermilk always, but I really encourage you to make the effort to get real buttermilk, the substitutions are never quite as good.
For 1 cup of buttermilk there are a couple substitutions you can do:
- 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice—then let stand for 10 minutes
- ½ cup yogurt + ½ cup water
- it’s a little different if you use a thick Greek yogurt: ⅓ cup Greek yogurt + ⅔ cup water
**Note this recipes calls for ¾ cup of buttermilk**
My personal favorite substitute is yogurt mixed with water! I think it has a better flavor than just milk and lemon juice.
You don’t want to substitute just regular milk without adding the lemon juice and here’s why…buttermilk and all the substitutes I listed are acidic, meaning that when they mix with the baking soda you get a reaction.
Think about that volcano science experiment we all did as kids—baking soda + vinegar and you get a fizzy explosion! This reaction between the buttermilk and baking soda is what’s going to make this cake rise and give it a nice cakey texture and not too dense.
How long wills this banana upside down cake last? Can I freeze it?
Keep this cake covered and it will last for about 3 days at room temperature. But, you can always freeze this cake! This banana cake freezes well for 3 months, just let the cake come to room temperature before eating!
If you've got leftover buttermilk, try out these other buttermilk recipes!
- Southern Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake
- Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins
- Buttermilk Syrup
- Buttermilk Parmesan Apricot Bacon Biscuits
- Buttermilk Cinnamon Streusel Muffins
- Blackberry Lemon Poppyseed Cake
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Banana Upside Down Cake
Upside Down Portion:
- 2 large bananas not overly ripe
- 9 tablespoons butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar packed
- 9 tablespoons butter room temperature
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup very ripe mashed banana about 2 medium bananas
- ¾ cup buttermilk see notes about substitution
- 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ cups flour measured correctly
Cream Cheese Drizzle (optional)
- 3 ounces 6 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon milk
Upside Down Portion:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9x9 inch pan and set aside. Slice bananas and set aside.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat melt your butter. Once butter is completely melted add in your brown sugar, and salt.Stir continuously for 2 minutes. It will start to bubble and the mixture will come together. You do not want to have this mixture over the heat longer than 2 minutes or it will begin to crystallize.
- Pour into the bottom of the greased pan and spread evenly across the bottom. Place your bananas on top of the caramel immediately. You’ll want to have your bananas sliced and ready to go because the caramel will start to cool and set and it will be difficult for the bananas to sink into the caramel.
Cake and Cream Cheese Drizzle:
- Cream together butter and sugar for 1 minute. Add eggs one at a time, beating in between for 2 minutes until light and creamy. Add in bananas, salt, and vanilla, beat until smooth.
- Combine the baking soda and buttermilk. Alternating adding the buttermilk and flour into the batter. Once completely combined pour batter on top of sliced bananas and caramel. Bake for 38-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. The top of the cake should be a deep golden brown color.
- While cake is baking make your cream cheese drizzle. Whisk together cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Whisk in vanilla, salt, and milk until smooth.
- Let cake cool for 10 minutes then invert the pan onto a plate or platter. Drizzle cream cheese glaze over top. Slice and enjoy.
you can substitute milk + an acid. For this I would do ¾ cup milk mixed with 1
tablespoon lemon juice, let the mixture stand for 10 minutes before using. This will give it time to curdle and become thick. OR 6 tablespoons of yogurt + 6
tablespoons water, mixed OR ¼ cup thick Greek yogurt + ½ cup water, mixed
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