Banana Rum Coconut Layer Cake

Bananas make great cakes (and muffins, quick breads, tarts, and pie fillings). One thing about bananas, though, they have to be ripe. Never us a banana for baking if it is not at least dotted with brown spots, or even darker, or your cake won’t have any banana flavor. And always mash bananas with a fork or potato masher—don’t throw them in the food processor—mashed bananas impart a more vivid flavor to any batter or filling. I like whipped cream with this cake, but chocolate is also a natural with it, as would be fluffy egg white icing.

Makes one 9-inch 2-layer cake, about 12 servings


2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)


1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 large bananas)

2/3 cup milk

1 tablespoon dark rum


2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon dark rum

2 2/3 cups (one 7-ounce package) sweetened shredded coconut

Two 9-inch round cake pans, 2 inches deep, buttered and the bottoms lined with disks of parchment or buttered wax paper cut to fit

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350˚F.
  2. For the cake, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir well to mix.
  3. Combine the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat with the paddle on medium speed until lightened in color and texture, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. In another bowl, stir the bananas, milk, and rum together until blended.
  6. Decrease the mixer speed to lowest and add 1/3 of the flour mixture. Stop and scrape the bowl and beater. Beat in half the banana mixture.
  7. Repeat step 6, adding half the flour and the remaining banana mixture, then stop and scrape again. Beat in the remaining flour mixture.
  8. Stop and scrape the bowl and paddle. Increase the speed to medium and beat the batter continuously for 3 minutes.
  9. Divide the batter equally between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake the layers until they are well risen and deep golden and feel firm when pressed in the center with a fingertip, 25 to 30 minutes.
  10. Cool the layers in the pans on racks for 5 minutes, then unmold, turn right side up again, and cool completely on the racks.
  11. When you are ready to assemble the cake, whip the cream with the sugar and rum. Place one of the cake layers on a platter or cardboard and spread it with a little less than half the whipped cream. Invert the second layer onto the cream so that the smooth bottom of the layer is on top.
  12. Spread the remaining cream all over the outside of the cake and press the coconut against the side of the cake to adhere. Scatter more coconut over the top of the cake and use a spatula to sweep gently across the coconut to make it even.