Coffee Coconut Banana Bread Cake
Dorie Greenspan transforms our classic banana bread into a festive coffee coconut banana bread cake with swirls of espresso cream cheese frosting. It’s an easy, flavorful recipe that’s sure to impress.
Sometimes I think that my husband hides bananas and waits for them to turn brown just so that he can hold them up, pretend to be surprised by their mottled skins, and then exclaim “It’s time to make banana bread!” He loves banana bread and I love baking it, so we’re a good pair.
Because we’re celebrating Simply Recipes' anniversary, I wanted to make a version of their banana bread recipe that could welcome a few candles. I think of it as banana bread that’s ready to party. It teeters between banana bread and banana birthday cake—I think it tips more cakeward in texture and certainly in spirit.
Coffee coconut banana bread cake switches up the basics of banana bread: it’s got new flavors and, because of the mix of coconut, a new texture—each bite is a little different from the others. And it’s got frosting! The swirly cream cheese frosting (based on this recipe) not only makes the cake a bit richer and fancier, it echoes the coffee and cinnamon flavors in the cake. Actually, as I’m writing this, I’m thinking that maybe this is really a banana cappuccino!
Coffee, Coconut, and Banana: A Winning Combo
When I was thinking about riffing on the classic recipe, I thought of bananas as a tropical fruit and had this idea to build on the flavors of the tropics. Ever since I heard the expression “what grows together goes together,” I’ve been intrigued by trying to pair ingredients that might be “neighbors.”
Coffee and banana are one of my long-time favorite flavor combinations. Cinnamon and coffee, another classic. Once I decided to include coconut flakes, that’s when I had the idea to swap the melted butter for coconut oil—it was a natural jump. I like that each of these ingredients has its own personality, but none of them overwhelms the others and nothing stands in the way of the banana being the star.
Using Toasted and Untoasted Coconut
I love that coconut offers different flavor and texture possibilities. Toasting coconut intensifies its flavor, but when you add toasted coconut to the batter and bake it, you lose some of its textural interest. And so, I toasted some of the coconut to bring up its flavor, and left some of it raw, so that it would be chewy. It’s a nice double-play and it's also another way to build surprise (my favorite ingredient) into the cake.
How to Serve Coffee Coconut Banana Bread Cake
I like that this cake can be an everyday snack or a special dessert. I made it for a dinner party and then we nibbled the leftovers at breakfast the next day. The frosting makes it special—fancier than a traditional banana bread—but honestly, this is a morning-to-midnight treat.
Preheat the oven and prepare the pan:
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Use coconut oil or softened butter to grease a 9-inch round cake pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with a parchment or silicone circle.
Toast the coconut:
Place 1/2 cup (42g) of the coconut flakes on a baking sheet (set aside the remaining coconut). Slide it into the oven and bake until toasted, 7 to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it—it can go from white to burned in a flash—and stir it a couple of times so that it toasts evenly. Set aside to cool while you mix the batter.
Combine the espresso, banana, and coconut oil:
Dissolve the instant espresso in the hot water.
In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until completely smooth. Stir in the melted coconut oil.
Add the remaining cake ingredients:
One by one, mix in the cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the sugar, beaten egg, dissolved espresso powder, and vanilla extract. Mix in the flour just until combined followed by the toasted and untoasted coconut.
Bake and cool:
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake until a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 23 to 27 minutes at 350°F (175 C).
Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn the pan over onto a cooling rack, lift off the pan, remove the paper or silicone circle, and then invert the cake. Let cool completely before frosting.
Make the frosting:
Beat all of the frosting ingredients (softened cream cheese, softened butter, powdered sugar, espresso powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt) together with an electric mixer on low until combined, then on medium speed until smooth and velvety.
Frost the cake:
Spread the frosting over the cake using a small icing spatula, a butter knife, or a spoon. If you’d like, frost the sides—there’s plenty of frosting. Sprinkle the toasted coconut over top if you’re using it.
The banana bread cake will keep, covered, at room temperature for 2 days. The texture is best at room temperature. It can be kept for 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
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