Caramelized Banana Upside-Down Cake (from Jessie Sheehan)

So, I have never won any thing in my life. Okay: I won the speech contest in 8th grade, with my dramatic reading from George Bernard Shaw’s “Saint Joan,” but I’m not counting that.  But recently, on a whim, I entered a Food52 contest for “our best banana recipe,” and lo and behold I submitted the winning recipe (and I’m still quite tickled, if you must know). It was for caramelized banana upside down cake, which calls for a simple oil-based, deeply vanilla, yellow cake topped with caramelized bananas.  As with most things in life, when served warm with vanilla ice cream, people go just a tiny bit bananas for it (pun intended).  And this includes the fine folks at Food52 and their community members. I realize you might be starting to see yummy summer fruit in your local farmer’s market (strawberries anyone?), and so might not be super jazzed by the idea of a banana cake, but I implore you to give it a try. You likely have all the ingredients in the cupboard, and your bananas are likely browning on the counter as I write this (or is that just MY bananas?) . . . The cake is just right for afternoon snacking with your kids or for post-dinner serving at a grown-up party, and will – undoubtedly – turn you into a winner among your family and friends.


To take a peek at the original blog post for caramelized banana upside down cake, and to peruse my collection of original recipes, click here.  And to read about the origins of the recipe and how I liked to eat my bananas as a child (yes, brown sugar and butter are involved), click here.




  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 large bananas, just ripe (not brown and spotty), each one sliced the long way into two pieces
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 yolk
  • 1 cup buttermilk


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and salt and cook until melted, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and decoratively press the bananas (flat side down, rounded side up) into the caramel, until all of the caramel is topped with bananas. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized bowl, and set aside.

Place the oil, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the egg and yolk, and continue whisking until smooth. Add the buttermilk and whisk again. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and using a rubber spatula, gently fold to combine. Do not over mix. Scrape the batter over the bananas and gently smooth the top.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, rotating at the halfway point, until a cake tester comes out with a moist crumb or two. Immediately run a paring knife around the edge of the pan . Let sit for 5 minutes and then carefully invert the cake onto a serving platter. If bits of caramel or banana stick to the bottom of the pan, scrape them off and place them back onto the cake.

Let cool until the caramel sets a bit, about 20 minutes, or cool to room temperature. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

The cake will keep wrapped in plastic wrap on the counter for up to 3 days, but it is best the day it is made.