This Banana Pudding Cake combines all of the elements of the classic southern dessert. Vanilla cake, banana pudding, and vanilla wafers with vanilla buttercream and fresh whipped cream.
Did you know that some people (seemingly a lot of people) do not like banana desserts?! I know. I can’t believe it either.
I came to this realization when I posted my Bananas Foster Cake a few weeks ago and multiple people told me they didn’t care for bananas or banana desserts or both!
I can’t help but think to myself that this cannot possibly include banana bread, because it is literally one of the best things ever. And really, since bananas have like a one day perfect ripeness window, what better way to make use of them than in baked goodies?
Despite the fact that I may be alienating a portion of my audience here (again), when my friend Sara said to me “You should make a Banana Pudding Cake!”, it just had to be done.
What is Banana Pudding?
Banana pudding is a trifle-like dessert consisting of vanilla wafers, custard, fresh banana slices, and whipped cream (or meringue). It’s largely associated with the southern US, but is very popular throughout the country.
My version of banana pudding in cake form consists of:
- vanilla cake layers
- banana custard (or pastry cream)
- fresh sliced banana
- Nilla wafers
- vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream
- whipped cream
Banana Pudding Cake
I used my favorite Vanilla Cake recipe but scaled it up a bit to make three 8″ layers. For the custard, I modified a pastry cream recipe that I’ve used before, but added some banana liqueur to it. I had some left over from the Bananas Foster Cake from a few weeks ago, so thought it would be a good addition.
If you don’t have any liqueur or don’t want to use it, you can try some banana flavoring. I’m not a fan of using artificial flavours though, so I’d probably just leave it as a plain vanilla pastry cream, which is the traditional version anyhow.
If you want to make your life even easier (I won’t judge) you can use instant banana or vanilla pudding for the filling. And on that note, you could use a doctored box mix for the cake if you really want to simplify your life. I have a very popular recipe for that too.
When assembling this cake, I did a thin layer of buttercream on each cake layer, then did a double height dam to hold in all the filling. Actually, I did a single height dam first, placed the Nilla wafers on the bottom, and then realized a single height dam would not cut it. So I doubled the dam and added the custard on top of the Nilla wafers, followed by the fresh banana slices.
I hope that makes sense. I can see the confusion in Ryan’s face already as he’s proofreading this. I guess this is where progress pics would come in handy! Hopefully the pic below helps highlight the double dam.
The Nilla wafers will get soft over time, but I didn’t let the cake sit long enough before I cut it, so they were still a bit firm. If you prefer, you can rough chop the Nilla wafers instead, and sprinkle them on top of the custard and bananas.
Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
I paired this Banana Pudding Cake with a vanilla buttercream, which isn’t traditional, but I thought it fit. I used my favourite Swiss meringue buttercream, but you could use an American buttercream instead.
I wouldn’t recommend using a whipped cream frosting, as it’s not stable enough to hold in the filling and the weight of the cake layers. I did use homemade whipped cream for the rosettes on top though, since it’s traditional with the dessert.
For decorating the sides of the cake, I used a cake comb from this set. It took a few passes and some additional buttercream in parts to get it completely smooth, but otherwise it was very easy to use.
If you’re a Banana pudding fan, I hope you try (and love) my cake version. It’s not overly banana-y, so even if you’re not a banana lover you might like it too!
Looking for more Banana recipes?
- Bananas Foster Cake
- Blueberry Banana Cake
- Banana Chocolate Chip Cake
- Banana Split Cake
- Nutella Banana Cake
Tips for making this Banana Pudding Cake recipe
- The recipe as-is will also work in two 8″ or three 6″ pans provided they are 3″ tall. Baking time will need to be increased.
- To make cupcakes, all you need to do is reduce the baking time — start checking at 15mins or so.
- If you want to make your life even easier you can use instant banana or vanilla pudding for the filling.
- You could also use a doctored cake mix for the cake layers if you like.
- I don’t recommend using whipped cream to frost the cake, as it’s not stable enough to support the filling or the weight of the layers.
- The cake comb I used to do the sides is from this set.
- Be sure to check my Swiss Meringue Buttercream post for tips and troubleshooting.
- Learn how to keep your cakes moist using Simple Syrup.
- To help ensure your cake layers bake up nice and flat, check out my Flat Top Cakes post!
Banana Pudding Cake
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/3 cup milk room temperature
Banana Custard (make in advance):
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 Tbsp banana liqueur or 1 tsp banana flavoring
Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- 6 large egg whites
- 2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 cups unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup whipping cream cold
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 large bananas sliced 1/4" thick
- nilla wafers
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour three 8" cake rounds and line with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder,and salt until well combined. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on med-high until pale and fluffy (approx 3mins). Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time fully incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla.
- Alternate adding flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of milk). Fully incorporating after each addition.
- Bake for approx. 30 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
- Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10 mins then turn out onto wire rack. Allow cakes to cool completely.
Banana Custard (make in advance):
- Place 1 1/2 cups milk and vanilla bean paste into a medium saucepan. Cook over high heat, stirring often until it just starts to simmer. Remove from heat.
- In a medium bowl, whisk remaining 1/2 cup milk, egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch.
- While whisking vigorously, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture.
- Return mixture to saucepan, add banana liqueur and cook over high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and comes to a boil.
- Pass through a strainer and into a small bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on top of custard to prevent a skin from forming. Cool to room temperature then place in refrigerator a couple hours to set.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined.*
- Place bowl over a pot with 1-2" of simmering water and stir constantly with a whisk until the mixture is hot and no longer grainy to the touch or reads 160F on a candy thermometer (3mins)
- Place bowl on your stand mixer and whisk on med-high until the meringue is stiff and cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approx. 5-10mins)).
- Switch to paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth.** Add vanilla and mix until smooth and fluffy.
- Whip cream and sugar until stiff peak (in a cold bowl with a cold whisk for best results). Fill a piping bag fitted with a large star tip (I used a 1M tip).
- Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Do a thin coat of buttercream on the layer and pipe a dam around the edge using a large round tip to hold in the custard (I did a double height dam).
- Place whole Nilla wafers on the bottom within the dam.*** Top with 3/4 cup banana custard and spread evenly. Top with banana slices. Repeat with next layer.
- Place final layer on top of the cake and frost and smooth the outside with a thin crumb coat. Chill for 20mins.
- Frost the top and sides of using the remaining buttercream. Smooth the sides and the top and then use a fine toothed cake comb on the sides.
- Do rosettes on top with the whipped cream and alternate banana slices and Nilla wafers between them. Spread some crushed Nilla wafers along the bottom if desired.
** The buttercream may look like it’s curdled at some point. Keep mixing until it is completely smooth.
*** Mine fit about 13 Nilla wafers per layer. Alternatively you can put the custard and bananas down first and then top wit chopped Nilla wafers instead.
Would a mascarpone+cream cheese+whipped cream frosting hold up the layers well in this recipe?
Hi Sarah! I don’t think it would be sturdy enough to hold in the filling. You could do a buttercream or ganache dam to hold that in and your frosting for the outside of the cake.
Is this recipe hard to make?! I’m taking a crack at it tomorrow, for my husband’s birthday. Hoping it goes well!
Hi Nune! The cake and filling I think are easy, the frosting is more intermediate. I have a detailed tutorial for it here: https://livforcake.com/swiss-meringue-buttercream-recipe/ Or you can use any of my other frosting recipes if you like: https://livforcake.com/category/frostings-fillings/
Thank you so much for this recipe! Turned out delicious ☺️.
Hi N! So happy you loved it. Thank you!
Hi. I have a quick question. I hope it can be answered. How can banana slices be kept from turning brown? and stay looking fresh and pale looking?
Hi Sarah! I dipped them in lemon juice 🙂
This didn’t affect the flavor at all? I was recently asked to use fresh bananas along with strawberries for the first time and want to avoid them turning brown but don’t want the lemon juice affecting other flavors. Thanks for your input!
Hi Veronica! I didn’t notice it to affect the flavor especially with everything else in the cake. It may be a bit noticeable but won’t be unpleasant.
I was wondering if you could use banana rum to make the custard with?
Hi Meredith! I think that would be fine 🙂
Rebecca Stewart says
What adjustments would be needed to make 3 – 9 inch cakes?
Hi Rebecca! Converting pan sizes is always tricky. Here’s a site I use as a guideline: http://www.joyofbaking.com/PanSizes.html
I want to bake this cake tomorrow, Thursday, but it won’t be eaten until Saturday. Do the fresh banana slices get dark inside of the cake? How long would you say the cake will stay fresh?
Hi Sylwia! The ones inside the cake should be ok, but I wouldn’t put the ones along the top until serving. The cake will be fine, refrigerated, for 2-3 days.
Hi! I really want to make this cake for my grandma’s birthday and I’m excited to try it. I’m wondering why the custard is made with banana flavoring instead of real bananas. Do you have any suggestions on making it with bananas or would that be a complete different recipe? Thank you!
Hi Crystal! You can give this recipe a try: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/banana-custard-pudding/
Tina scott says
Your SMBC recipe above calls for 3 c butter but your standard recipe calls for 2 cups.. what is the difference in taste and texture?
Hi Tina! I don’t find much of a difference in either. Technically this one would be a bit more buttery, but I don’t notice it if you really beat the buttercream to fluff it up. This one makes more buttercream which is needed for the larger sized cake.
I want to make this for my sister in law’s birthday tomorrow! Would it work to use store-bought whipped cream for the rosettes on top? And, how tall would you say this cake gets? I am little nervous about transporting it to her house.
Hi Annelyse! You can totally use store-bought whipped cream for the rosettes. The cake is quite tall, especially with the rosettes and cookies on top. About 10″ or so I’d say? I would chill the cake so that the frosting is nice and firm before transporting. Let me know how it goes!
Sophia B says
Can you use vanilla extract instead of the vanilla bean paste? Also, I usually make whipped cream with confectioners sugar and it tastes delicious. What do you reccomend?
Hi Sophia! Yes, the vanilla extract will be fine. You can make whipped cream however you like! Both work fine 🙂
Celina James says
Nice photos.Much appreciated your effort. Thanks for sharing with us.
Rachel Lew says
Hi! What temperature should i bake at for 6inch cake pan?
Hi Rachel! Bake at the same temperature, but the time might be different.
I am confused–is the recipe for three 8-inch pans (as written in the directions) or is it two 8-inch pans/three 6-inch pans (as stated in the tips section)? Looking forward to making this!
Hi Sarah! The recipe is for three 8″ pans. In the Tips section I give suggestions for alternatives.
April Migliaccio says
What adjustments do you suggest for high altitudes?
Hi April! See here for tips in baking at high altitude: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/resources/high-altitude-baking It will likely require some experimentation.
What a beautiful cake , looks amazing . Well done 🌹
Thanks so much Sana!
Recipe looks great. Cant wait to try. I’m wondering if you did something to prevent the bananas from darkening?
Thank you! Yes, I dipped them into lemon juice then dried them off before placing on the cake. Works like a charm! Might affect the flavour of those banana slices though 😉
Oh my God!! This looks so good. Will be making this very soon.
You have the best recipes!
Thanks so much Linda! Let me know how you like it 🙂
I love your recipes and can’t wait to try- but not sure what vanilla wafers are or whether there’s a UK equivalent- I’m off to google and find out!
Hi Helen! Thank you! We have cookies called Nilla wafers here, but if you can’t find those you can use something like lady fingers or any other kind of vanilla cookies. Let me know what you try!