Banana Bourbon Upside Down Cake

in Desserts

Pardon me while I get all bossy on you, BUT you must make this cake.

Banana Bourbon Upside Down Cake

When I was lil’ Adrianna, I always dreamed about having a big sister. I wanted someone to steal clothes from, teach me how to French braid, paint my nails all gloopy and gross-like, steal my boyfriends (do sisters do this? I watch a lot of romantic comedies) and most importantly, I wanted someone to boss me around. I thought that bossy/bratty dichotomy between elder sister and younger sister seemed so fun.

Instead, I was born the older sister to a younger brother who was victim to a few non-requested beauty “makeovers” and a healthy dose of bossy-Adrianna.

Right now, I’m taking this big sister role seriously and being super bossy and telling you to make this G.D. cake!

(Do not worry! I will paint your nails later.)

Banana Bourbon Upside Down Cake

This cake might be one of the more delicious things I’ve made in the past few months. I’m pretty pretty pretty in love with it.

And like all good love stories, it starts with butter.

The butter cooks with light brown sugar until it’s all bubbly and caramel-ey. Bourbon is added and then bananas.

The cake batter is added on top and the whole thing goes in the oven.

When it comes out, you’ll have to be super careful when you invert the cake onto a plate or cake stand. A pair of second hands help.

The caramelization will give the bananas pink highlights and since you’re a girl (maybe you aren’t?), you’ll squeal and it’ll be embarrassing.

But seriously, I mean, the bananas turned pink! How awesome is that?

Here’s the flavor low-down with this cake: there isn’t a huge bourbon flavor–it’s just a hint. No bourbon in the house? I give a big NO to plunking down an extra $30 just for this recipe. Whiskey will work, if you have it. Or rum. Oh gosh…rum!

The cake layer isn’t too sweet. The bananas with delicious caramel definitely are sweet. It almost has a flavor reminiscent of smooth, silky toffee. Yum.

I ate this on the warmer side of room temperature with a dollop of barely whipped cream and a cup of coffee.

I was pretty stoked on life.

Banana Bourbon Upside Down Cake

Yield: one 12-inch cake

Banana Bourbon Upside Down Cake


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 white granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups whole milk
  • Banana Topping:
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2-3 medium-sized bananas, sliced lengthwise


    *Before starting this recipe, be sure to read a few notes at the bottom.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small to medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Next, in a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla; and then mix until the mixture is smooth.
  3. To the butter and sugar mixture, mix in half of the flour mixture and the milk. Then, mix in the remaining flour mixture, being sure not to over mix.
  4. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet (*see note below about alternative vessels), melt the butter over medium heat. Mix in the brown sugar and salt and stir until the sugar begins to bubble, about 1 minute. Carefully add the bourbon (the mixture will sizzle!) and mix one more time. Turn off the heat and let stand for a few minutes to cool slightly. Next, arrange the bananas to your liking.
  5. Pour the batter over the bananas, and spread the batter gently so it's nice and even. Transfer the cast iron skillet to the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. To invert the cake, place a (large enough) plate on top of the cast iron skillet and turn both of them over; lift up the cast iron skillet and voila! Your cake!
  7. I like to serve this cake slightly warm with a dollop of whipped cream. And a cup of coffee. Always.
  8. *Note #1: Before you start step #4, I'd recommend arranging your banana slices in the (dry and cool) cast iron skillet, and then transferring them to a nearby cutting board. This way you have a plan as to how you want them to be arranged once the pan is full of bubbling sugar and bourbon. Is this slightly OCD? Yes, but I want your cake to look pretty, too! So this is how.
    *Note #2: If you don't have a 12-inch cast iron, you can surely use a 10-inch cast iron skillet or a 10-inch cake pan. If you use a 10-inch cast iron skillet you may have a bit of batter leftover and the cake part will be thicker. No biggie! If you use a 10-inch cake pan, you'll need to do step #4 in a skillet and then pour the caramel mixture into the cake pan.

{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

Allison @ bakingyear July 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Wow!!! this looks amazing! I just made a banana upside down cake and it turned out fabulously. Check it out!
The only question I have is that do you ever run into the issue of the middle of your banana cake not cooking through? This happened to me, and has happened to me twice before when baking banana bread. It doesn’t occur when I bake regular cakes, so I suspect that the batter is too dense. Do you have any suggestions?


Adrianna Adarme July 21, 2013 at 11:42 pm

Oh your cake looks fantastic! I don’t but that’s because this cake doesn’t have banana cake baked into it. I think the problem sometimes with banana bread is that it’s too moist, almost dense. My boyfriend’s mom would actually roast the bananas, which would dehydrate the bananas a bit, giving you a less dense bread. I think you should try that and see how it works out. I bet you’d have better results.


Marina August 17, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Oh boy. This is so going to my autumn to-do list (if I can wait so long, that is). I only have a 9 inch cake pan which probably means that the cake layer will be a lot thicker than yours and you mentioned that this part isn’t too sweet… So I’m thinking of sneaking some caramelized white chocolate in there? It sounds awesome in my head but do you think it would then be too sweet?


karen October 6, 2013 at 7:05 am

I put whiskey instead of bourbon as suggested but the bananas didn’t turn out pink :( any clue why


Adrianna Adarme October 6, 2013 at 8:58 am

Hmm…the whiskey vs bourbon thing shouldn’t have made that much of a difference. Hmm…I’m not sure why they didn’t turn out pink? Did you use a cast iron?


karen October 6, 2013 at 10:47 am

Ooops used a Tefal to melt the butter and sugar, so the cast iron would have made all the difference?


Thi Nguyen January 19, 2014 at 8:06 am

If the banana not ripe enough, it will not yield the pink color as it cooks. By the way, the cake looks gorgeous!


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