Cake 27: Banana Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

My Grandma Cochran asked if I had a recipe for a cake using bananas and chocolate, and all I had was my recipe for chocolate chip banana bread, so it inspired me to make this two-layer banana cake with chocolate buttercream frosting! (Which is also an excuse to practice cake decorating skills from the cake decorating class I took.) I put about 20% of the batter into a jar to make a jar cake to send my husband in Afghanistan.

Banana Cake Recipe Ingredients

  • 4 to 5 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Banana Cake Recipe Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Prepare two 9″ round baking pans. In one bowl, mash the ripe bananas and lemon juice together. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. In your kitchen mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture was light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla. Alternate adding the dry ingredients mixture and the buttermilk a bit at a time, starting and finishing with dry ingredients. Add the mashed banana goop and beat just until mixed in. Pour the banana cake batter into the prepared cake pans, and bake four about 45 minutes, or until your cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool the cakes completely. I’ve heard about popping this cake in the freezer while you prepare the chocolate buttercream frosting. I tried it out and thought it really helped the icing process.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe Ingredients

  • 8 ounces of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe Directions

In a stainless bowl over a saucepan with simmering water (creating a double boiler) melt the chocolate, stirring constantly so it doesn’t scald or burn, until it’s smooth. Remove from heat and cool for about 15 minutes. In your kitchen mixer, beat the softened butter until creamy. Alternate adding the powdered sugar and milk in small parts, starting and finishing with the powdered sugar. Fold in the melted chocolate and vanilla extract, and mix until smooth. I recommend working with the chocolate buttercream pretty quickly so it doesn’t cool on the cake and get difficult to work with. Garnish with whatever seems tasty – banana chips, chocolate chips or chocolate curls, I used some walnuts since I had them handy.

How to Bake a Mason Jar Cake for Soldiers

My husband is a soldier deployed for the fourth time, this time to Afghanistan. He always appreciates the care packages his family and I send full of books, magazines, healthy snacks – and sometimes cake. Since I bake a cake a week, it would be a real shame not to share the goodies with the soldiers! Baking a jar cake is really simple, and a great way to send a special treat from home, made with love. They keep really well because the heat seals the jar so tightly and it lasts the week or two it takes for the care package to arrive where your loved one is deployed. Here is a handy guide on how to bake jar cakes to send to soldiers overseas.

Step 1: Sanitize the Mason Jar

Take the two pieces of the lid and the jar apart. Put the glass jar in a pot of hot water and bring it to boil over medium high heat on the stove. Boil the jar to sanitize it, then remove it carefully from the hot water with tongs to cool.

Step 2: Grease the Jar

Once the jar is completely cooled, spray the inside liberally with a non-stick spray like Pam or waxed paper with butter. This way the cake doesn’t stick to the edges of the jar too much and it’s easy for your soldier to eat your delicious cake!

Step 3: Fill the Jar with Cake Batter

After you’ve made your cake batter (use any of the cake recipes on this site for your cake batter – they won’t be disappointed!), fill the sanitized mason jar about halfway with cake batter. Don’t forget the cake will rise as it bakes, so remember to only fill the jar half full.

Step 4: Bake the Cake in the Jar

Bake your cake inside the jar according to the normal recipe instructions – including temperature. However, it is wise to start checking on the cake about 10 minutes before the normal done time. Sometimes the jar cakes bake a little faster than a full-size cake would. The best way to tell if it is done is to insert a toothpick or skewer tester in the center and make sure it comes out clean. Also, the top of the cake should spring back when lightly pressed.

Step 5: Sanitize the Jar Lids

Shortly before your cake finishes baking, boil the two parts of the mason jar lid just like you did the jar itself.

Step 6: Sealing the Jar

Make sure to use gloves so you don’t burn your hands on the jar! Pull your jar cake out of the oven. Run a clean, damp cloth around the rim of the jar to get rid of any crumbs or baked on cake. Screw the lid tightly onto the jar while it’s still hot.

Do not frost or decorate the cake. Pick a good, flavorful cake recipe and they won’t miss it, I promise. Some people send a store-bought container of frosting on the side. I have also baked pumpkin bread and other breads in jars, and it turned out fantastic. Let your jar cake cool and then ship it out as soon as possible! The sooner the jar cake gets there, the better. Your soldier can run a knife right around the edge of the cake and plop it out of the jar – or if you’re lazy like me, you can just eat the cake right of the jar.

Edit: One reader below said it might not be safe to bake breads and cakes in jars because the temperature doesn’t get high enough to guarantee baking off all potential bacteria. She linked to a white paper on the safety procedures that you should read. Mail takes about 1.5 to 2 weeks to get to my husband in Afghanistan and the cakes have been fine, but there is some risk involved. If you do decide to go ahead and bake jar cakes, be sure to sanitize those jars and seal those lids tight, and advise your soldier to check them carefully before consuming!

Like this tutorial on how to bake mason jar cakes for deployed soldiers overseas? Check out (and share!) my tutorial on How to Bake, Pack & Ship Cookies to Deployed Soldiers Overseas in Care Packages.

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