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Gluten-free Banana Cake Recipe with Maple Walnut Frosting

Fans of banana bread will flip for this snackable gluten-free banana cake recipe made perfect with a maple walnut cream cheese frosting!

It’s hard to know who is and is not gluten-free, so baking and taking a gluten-free option to a gathering means everybody can share. This cake is soooo moist and so flavorful and gluten-free or not, it was a home run when I shared it at a recent bonfire party at the beach.

a hunk of cake, with frosting and walnuts

All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC

It’s fall, y’all and this snack cake bake is chock full of cozy ‘autumnal’ spices. If the flavors don’t get you in the mood for sweater weather, the aroma in your kitchen absolutely will.

If you embrace comfort food, THIS IS THE DESSERT that put comfort food on the map. It’s customizable in terms of ingredient additions such as chocolate chips, toffee pieces, or banana chips. And if you don’t care about assembling this with gluten-free flour blends, regular all-purpose flour works just fine, too.

Been invited to a gathering and want to show up with something more unique than a bottle of wine? How about a delicious banana cake that’s shareable with everybody with or without dietary restrictions? Yup, this moist cake is the best way to show off your baking prowess backed by some serious banana flavor!

Sharing this gluten-free cake recipe is a no-brainer because I am baking it frequently this season. I snapped a few pictures for this post as I assembled this delicious cake once again just last week to take with me to a bonfire at the beach.

There are MANY types of gluten-free flour and sourcing most of them in the baking isle at your grocery store is a cinch. I tested this recipe with King Arthur Measure for Measure to fabulous results. I have not tested the recipe with other gluten-free flours.

hands, drizzling maple syrup over cake

Gluten-free Banana Cake Recipe Ingredients

for the gluten-free banana cake

  • salted butter
  • granulated sugar
  • dark brown sugar (pack the measuring cup for best results)
  • overripe bananas
  • room temperature eggs
  • vanilla extract
  • King Arthur Measure for Measure gluten-free AP flour
  • baking soda
  • baking powder
  • fine sea salt

for the maple walnut frosting

  • cream cheese
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • genuine maple syrup
  • whipping cream
  • cinnamon
  • toasted walnuts

optional

  • mini chocolate chips
  • mini butterscotch chips
  • banana chips
a baking pan, with squares of cake

Steps to Bake This Gluten-free Banana Cake Recipe

  • Step One. The maple walnut cream cheese frosting for the top of the cake involves browning the butter that is going to elevate it.
  • In a small non-stick saucepan over medium heat, melt a full stick (1/2-cup) of salted butter. This step requires constant monitoring as the butter will go from liquid to brown in mere minutes. Maintain medium heat for the duration of the browning process.
  • Once the butter becomes foamy, the transformation begins from golden in color to an acorn brown color. Use your nose; it should smell slightly nutty. 
  • Pour the brown butter off into a bowl and place in the refrigerator. It needs to be soft but not liquid before it can lend itself in the frosting.
a cake in a pan, with a matching lid
  • Step Two. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9 x 9-inch baking pan and set aside. I like this one because not only does it come with a lid, but it comes two to a package for the money.
  • Spill walnuts out onto a baking sheet in a single layer and bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove the pan and allow the nuts to cool while you prepare the cake batter.
a baking sheet, with walnuts and a bowl of maple syrup
  • Step Three. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl using a hand mixer), cream butter and both white sugar and brown sugar.
  • Add three mashed bananas to the wet ingredients along with a half cup of water, the eggs, and some vanilla extract.
  • Add the dry ingredients by way of gluten-free all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and a hefty pinch of fine sea salt. You want to mix on medium-low speed JUST UNTIL the flour is combined. Over-mixing will result in an overly dense and chewy crumb. NOTE: if using additional add-ins (chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, or dried banana chips), fold them in now using a rubber spatula.
cake in a baking pan, with walnuts and maple syrup
  • Step Four. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.
  • Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. The cake is done when there is no visible batter on the toothpick, only moist crumbs or it’s clean.
  • Pull the cake and allow it to stand in the pan for 5 to 8-minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and then again so the top of the cake is right side up. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
hands, frosting a cake in a baking pan
  • Step Five. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese for about 2 minutes into a fluffy texture using an electric mixer.
  • To the creamed mixture, add vanilla extract, powdered sugar, real maple syrup, whipping cream, some cinnamon, and finally another hefty pinch of sea salt. ProTip: you can chop the walnuts and incorporate into the frosting at this juncture if you like. I prefer to add mine to the top of the cake. I do this so that they are easy to remove if somebody has an aversion to nuts. It’s a great way to use the walnuts without impeding somebody’s ability to eat your cake without them.
a mixing bowl, with frosting and an offset spatula
  • Step Six. If taking along to a gathering, place the cake on a platter or back into the pan.
  • Cutting this cake before applying the maple walnut cream cheese frosting makes portioning and serving super easy. Again, consider this if it’s serving as a take-along to a party or cookout.
  • Otherwise simply frost the cake but be sure to create grooves with whatever you use to frost with. The grooves in the frosting will perfectly cradle chopped walnuts and the extra drizzle of maple syrup.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Given it will be under refrigeration, I recommend pulling the cake about 30 minutes prior to serving so the frosting has time to soften.
close up of banana cake with maple walnut frosting

FAQs & Tips

What Gluten-free Flour is Used In This Recipe?

King Arthur Measure for Measure gluten-free all purpose flour. There are MANY types of gluten-free flour however they are not all created equal. I have not tested this method with any other gluten-free flour.

What If I Don’t Have Overripe Bananas?

Your grocery store likely has bananas “past their prime” or too ripe to sell. If you do not have overripe bananas, check with your grocery store to see if they have removed bananas from the shelf considered to be past their prime. They are usually perfectly overripe (black bananas), and they will typically sell them deeply discounted.

Is There a Way to Blacken Bananas I Have on Hand?

Ripen bananas in your oven. If you have bananas but they’re not overripe, simply use your oven to ripen them. Preheat your oven to 300°F and bake the bananas, skin on, on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 45 minutes. You want to bake them until the skins are deeply blackened, very fragrant, and soft when pressed.

How to Store Leftovers?

In an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid under refrigeration. I pop the cake back into the baking pan once I have cut it into portions, but before I frost it. Once frosted, the lid that mates/pairs with the baking pan makes the perfect airtight container for refrigeration.

featured image for gluten-free banana cake recipe with maple walnut frosting

Gluten-free Banana Cake Recipe with Maple Walnut Frosting

Jenny from Not Entirely Average
Fans of banana bread will flip for this snackable gluten-free banana cake recipe made perfect with a maple walnut cream cheese frosting!
No ratings yet
Servings: 9 servings
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Southern
Servings 9 servings
Calories 590 kcal

Equipment

  • stand mixer or electric mixer
  • 9 x 9-inch baking pan
  • wire cooling rack

Ingredients
 

for the banana cake

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 large (to equal 1 cup) bananas overripe, mashed with a fork
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups King Arthur Measure for Measure all-purpose gluten-free flour cup for cup equivalent using the dip and sweep method
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt

for the maple walnut frosting

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups Confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup plus, more for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch cinnamon

Instructions
 

brown butter for later use in the maple walnut frosting

  • In a small non-stick saucepan over medium heat, melt a full stick (1/2-cup) of salted butter. This step requires constant monitoring as the butter will go from liquid to brown in mere minutes. Maintain medium heat for the duration of the browning process.
  • Once the butter becomes foamy, the transformation begins from golden in color to an acorn brown color. Use your nose; it should smell slightly nutty. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate.

for the banana cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9 x 9-inch baking pan. Set aside. Scatter walnuts out onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake 5 minutes. Remove the pan and allow the nuts to cool while you prepare the cake batter.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl using a hand mixer), cream butter and both white sugar and brown sugar. Add mashed bananas, water, eggs, and vanilla extract. Mix on medium-low 1 minute.
  • Add the gluten-free flour, baking powder, baking soda, and a pinch of fine sea salt. Mix on medium-low speed JUST UNTIL the flour is combined. Over-mixing will result in an overly dense and chewy crumb. NOTE: if using additional add-ins (chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, or dried banana chips), fold them in now using a rubber spatula.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. The cake is done when there is no visible batter on the toothpick, only moist crumbs or it's clean.
  • Remove cake from oven. Allow it to stand in the pan for 5 to 8-minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and then again so the top of the cake is right side up. Allow to cool completely before frosting, about 1 hour. ProTip: If taking along to a gathering, place the cake on a platter or back into the pan. Cutting this cake before applying the maple walnut cream cheese frosting makes portioning and serving super easy. Again, consider this if it's serving as a take-along to a party or cookout.

for the maple walnut frosting

  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese for about 2 minutes into a fluffy texture using an electric mixer.
  • To the creamed mixture, add vanilla extract, powdered sugar, real maple syrup, whipping cream, some cinnamon, and finally another hefty pinch of sea salt. ProTip: you can chop the walnuts and incorporate into the frosting at this juncture if you like. I prefer to add mine to the top of the cake. I do this so that they are easy to remove if somebody has an aversion to nuts. It's a great way to use the walnuts without impeding somebody's ability to eat your cake without them.
  • Frost the cake creating grooves as you apply the mixture. The grooves in the frosting will cradle the walnuts and the extra drizzle of maple syrup.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Given it will be under refrigeration, I recommend pulling the cake about 30 minutes prior to serving so the frosting has time to soften.

Notes

Please Note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not use table salt or iodized salt in any of the recipes you find on Not Entirely Average UNLESS specified otherwise. This recipe specifies fine sea salt.
Types of Gluten-Free Flour include almond and buckwheat flours, oat flour and brown rice flour, or even sorghum flour. Most are cup-for-cup regular to gluten-free but be sure to read the packages in the event there are different equivalents. This recipe has ONLY been tested using King Arthur Measure for Measure gluten-free AP flour. 
To Hasten Bananas on Hand Ripening Quickly preheat your oven to 300°F and bake the bananas, skin on, on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 45 minutes. You want to bake them until the skins are deeply blackened, very fragrant, and soft when pressed. If Looking to Purchase Overripe Bananas check with your grocery store to see if they have removed bananas from the shelf considered to be past their prime
Store Leftovers in an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid under refrigeration for up to 3 days. It will still be fine to eat after 3 days however the freshness will have lapsed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 590kcalCarbohydrates: 96gProtein: 7gFat: 34gSaturated Fat: 20gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 148mgSodium: 605mgPotassium: 95mgFiber: 3gSugar: 44gVitamin A: 1135IUVitamin C: 0.05mgCalcium: 99mgIron: 2mg
Keyword banana cake, cream cheese frosting, fall baking recipes, maple walnut
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